Southside Steve, Jason Bailey defend awkward 'Fantastic Four' interview

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Sunday, August 2, 2015

Several national entertainment journalists went after Jason Bailey and "Southside Steve" Rickman of the Rock 100.5 Morning Show for their line of questioning to the cast of "Fantastic Four" last week.

Bailey's confusion over the mixed race siblings in the film and Rickman's flirty compliments to one of the actresses came across as awkward and the interview was cut short. On Monday, the two morning hosts defended themselves and did not apologize.

"It's blown way out of proportion," Bailey said on air Monday morning during the 6 a.m. hour.

When the video was leaked, Hitfix and Buzzfeed posted rather nasty stories on Friday evening.

Krystie Lee Yandoli of Buzzfeed said the hosts asked "incredibly offensive questions." In her story, she mixed up Bailey with Rickman.

Writer Donna Dickens of Hitfix included this sarcastic headline: "Radio Personalities Time Travel From 1950 to Harass 'Fantastic Four' Cast.' The subtitle: "How Not To Interview 101." She called Rickman's words "sexual harassment."

Soon, Mashable and Entertainment Weekly got in on the act as well. And some folks on social media went kind of nuts. (Bailey said over the weekend he baited Twitter "trolls" who are from out of town and have no idea how the show works.)

Last week, the two morning hosts participated in a press junket at the St. Regis in Buckhead for the film, which comes out August 7. The pair interviewed Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm), Kate Mara (Sue Storm), and Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm).

Buzzfeed provided screen shots with the Q&A attached, including this kicker. CREDIT: Buzzfeed

Bailey wondered upfront about how Johnny and Sue could be brother and sister since he's black and she's white. Simple answer: Mara said her character was adopted.

“They could be raised as brother and sister," Jordan added. "There’s a whole bunch of different family dynamics there can be without the obvious adoption."

Some people online perceived this to be "racist" simply because he asked a race question.

On Monday morning, Bailey said they don't design the show to be old-school "shock jock" style. They weren't trying to be provocative for the sake of being provocative. He noted that the characters were white in past "Fantastic Four" films. To the actors, he didn't provide the context in the question set up.

"We can't ask race in a story line fashion in a movie that's make believe and not have the word racist thrown around?" he said.

He noted that Jimmy Kimmel asked the same question earlier to Jordan and Jordan responded a bit defensively.

Rickman, who developed a playboy reputation over the years before he got married, was often mocked by former Regular Guy lead Larry Wachs for his fawning, sometimes ignorant, questions to celebrities. In this case, his compliments to Mara made her clearly uncomfortable - or merely unimpressed.

“You’re way, way hot,” Rickman said to her. “Why’d you cut the hair? Your hair was beautiful.”

“This is a great interview,” Mara said sarcastically. She then said she cut her hair for another movie, adding, “They asked me to. I’m an actress. I have to be a chameleon.”

After obsessing over her hair a bit more, Rickman mentioned how much he liked her toes since "I'm a toe guy." Mara's response: "Wow."

Bailey, on air Monday, said, "If I had a nickel every time Steve said that to a man or a woman... I would be very very wealthy. It's just a Steve thing."

"I don't do anything weird with feet," Rickman said. He liked toes "from appearance."

He said the publicists gave the "cut" sign after his "toes" comment and the interview abruptly ended.

Bailey defended himself and Rickman Friday in a Buzzfeed email. Via Twitter direct message Sunday, he told me he was fine with what happened.

"I was curious about the brother and sister thing," Bailey wrote to Buzzfeed. "You have a white sister and black brother wouldn’t you want to know how that happened? I did. The other Fantastic Four franchises explain the relationship so I figured with this new hipster version they’d have some different back story.”

Rickman texted me Sunday to say he didn't mean to come across as sexist. "I guess it was the time frame [they were scheduled to have five to seven minutes with the cast] or her mood that it came across as sexist," he wrote. "I was just shocked to see that she cut 22 inches off her head, but she looked fine with short hair too."

Here's the video in full on YouTube:

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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