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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Bad Boy Kummer

Starts May 5

Notorious, former journalist Tom Kummer was a blank page to me, although I have been reading German newspapers and magazines for years. Born in Switzerland, he wrote for the Hamburg magazine Tempo, then as Hollywood correspondent for the Suddeutschezeitung, as well as freelance for all the established German newspapers and magazines. He was well known for his revealing interviews with Sean Penn, Sharon Stone, Courtney Love, Bruce Willis, and other famous stars. In 2000 it came to light that he never interviewed or even met any of his subjects; all the information was a figment of his creative imagination (probably more interesting than a bona fide interview might have been, but that was not the point). He was fired from the Suddeutschezeitung, as were his two chief editors.

Since then he has moved to Los Angeles with his wife and two small children where he works as a paddle tennis teacher.

Hungarian director Miklós Gimes, also a journalist in the print business as well as film director, was interested in Kummer’s feelings and thoughts. In this documentary he visits him in Los Angeles and goes to his former work places such as Zurich, Berlin and Hamburg to interview former contacts. Although no former employer wished to be part of the film, in the end Gimes did find 30 friends and former colleagues who were willing to discuss their relationship with Tom Kummer. He was compared to Jayson Blair, a journalist who was fired from the New York Times for similar deceptions. Kummer is cheerful, neither regretful nor apologetic and still seems to think that he is the cat’s meow. To me he came across as a narcissistic exhibitionist, happy to star in his own film, as well as intelligent and talented. I can imagine that his “interview” with Knut the polar bear, who recently died in the Berlin Zoo, was brilliant and probably reflected exactly what Knut “said” ; too bad the talent was wasted but perhaps he is a good paddle tennis teacher. At least, I now know what that sport is.

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