Summer Bummer! Zooey’s a No-Show at WSJ Culture Event

In keeping with her fickle, heartbreaking character in the new film (500) Days of Summer, Zooey Deschanel bailed on a date with The Wall Street Journal Monday night. Ms. Deschanel was scheduled to headline a screening and Q&A at the AMC Lincoln Square, as part of The Journal’s inaugural “Summer Scoops Live” series, but just before the film began, culture editor Christopher Farley announced to the sold-out theater that the young star wasn’t coming. She had, however, recorded a statement that was shown after the film.

“Hello, everybody, I’m really sorry I couldn’t be there for the Q&A, it sounded like a really great event,” said Ms. Deschanel, who was away filming a new David Gordon Green movie in Ireland. “Umm, I guess I should maybe answer a few questions preemptively. … I did the movie because I liked it,” she said to a smattering of laughter. Also? Everybody was great to work with. That was about it.

Ms. Deschanel would have been one of the biggest young names in The Journal’s seven-part series, which features cultural newsmakers in conversation with the paper’s reporters.

Participants include father-daughter filmmakers Sidney and Jenny Lumet; ?uestlove from the Roots; and Moby. (If they show, that is!)

“We want to let people know that we cover culture at The Wall Street Journal, that we’re covering culture that matters to them, that we cover hifalutin culture and pop culture, and all sorts of things,” Mr. Farley said. (He declined to comment on the paper’s plans for a New York culture section that will compete with The Times, which Off The Record reported on last week.)

In (500) Days, Ms. Deschanel slowly breaks the heart of young Joseph Gordon-Levitt over an indie soundtrack of Regina Spektor, the Pixies and the Smiths. The couple yells “Penis!” in the park, and they play house in Ikea. All of which delighted the young crowd—mostly women in their 20s—who had groaned earlier when Ms. Deschanel’s absence was announced.

The Journal hadn’t bothered to put up notice of the cancellation on its Summer Scoops Web site, which continued to feature the paper’s signature pen-and-ink portraits of Ms. Deschanel and the film’s director, Marc Webb, who carried the Q&A session along with the film’s two screenwriters.

“I think people wanted to hear a good discussion of the film and weren’t worrying so much about which of the actors were here or weren’t here,” Mr. Farley said.

Without the lead actress, the questions for the two screenwriters and the director were mostly technical. “I felt maybe we got the N.Y.U. film school,” Mr. Farley joked.

The only personal question had been submitted to the reporters by an unnamed Journal editor: “What if someone gives you a book and one of the characters is particularly dislikable, and you know that’s why your lover gave it to you, as an implied criticism. Should you confront him or her?”

“Does he wear a tinfoil hat?” Mr. Webb asked. “Have an open and honest discussion about your feelings,” he deadpanned.

After the session, Mr. Webb said it was “an honor” to be hosted by the venerable Wall Street Journal, and that the youthful film was not out of place in a paper better known for covering commodities than comedies.

“Listen, romance is something everybody can identify with,” Mr. Webb said. Even Journal readers—or, at least, the girls who go to Journal movie screenings.

Summer Bummer! Zooey’s a No-Show at WSJ Culture Event