EgyptAir’s in-flight magazine apologized yesterday over publishing an allegedly fabricated interview with actress Drew Barrymore, which sparked controversy and confusion on social media over the past week.
In the statement, signed by Horus’s editor in chief Amal Fawzy and Al-Ahram Advertising Agency’s general director Hassan Abdel-Monsef, the agency said that the interview was “Submitted to us by Dr. Aida Takla, our correspondent in Hollywood who is a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the elected president of the HFPA four times in the past, and a voting member for the Golden Globe Awards.”
The statement then explained that Takla “has affirmed, on her personal Twitter account, that she corresponds for both Horus magazine and Nisf al-Dunya magazine and that she conducted the interview during a meeting between HFPA members and the actress Drew Barrymore.”
“We apologize for any misunderstanding that might be interpreted as an offence to the great artist,” they concluded.
Barrymore’s agent had released a statement denying the actress ever gave an interview to EgyptAir’s in-flight magazine ‘Horus’, which falls under the Al-Ahram Advertising Agency.
In their statement to the Huffington Post, the representatives said that Barrymore did not participate in any interview with an airline.
However, they clarified to the BBC that the quotes used in the interview were not completely made up, as they were misinterpretations of quotes Barrymore’s statements in a press conference, through they stressed that Barrymore did not “technically sit down with EgyptAir for an interview.”
The controversy started after an interview published by Horus went viral after being picked up by political analyst Adam Baron, who posted the interview on twitter and commented that it was “surreal”.
The alleged interview, conducted by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) Aida Takla-O’Reilly, opens with an introduction about Barrymore’s “unstable relationships” and “unsuccessful marriages.”
It then delves into the interview where the actress supposedly says some controversial statements such as talking about weight gain after having her son, using her story to encourage women to lose weight.
Other “statements” by the actress quoted in the article were proven inaccurate, such as a part where the actress allegedly says she is temporarily abandoning acting to “focus on being a mother”. This contradicts Barrymore’s personality, who in several other interviews addressed the hardships and rewards of being a working mother.
The statement also neglects the fact that Barrymore is starring in a currently running Netflix series, titled the “Santa Clarita Diet”. She’s also been delving further into production as well as managing a cosmetics line, wine label and even an Amazon store, reported Vanity Fair.
Despite Barrymore’s representatives denying that the one on one interview ever took place, EgyptAir as well as author Aida Takla stood their ground, releasing statements affirming that that the interview did in fact take place.
EgyptAir defended the article on Twitter, saying: “This a professional magazine interview conducted by Dr. Aida Takla Former president of the HFPA and one of the voting members of the Golden Globes.”
Takla herself insisted the interview happened, though she accused Horus magazine of editing the article leading to the confusion.
Takla took to Twitter writing, “as a member of the HFPA since 1956, I have been a correspondent for many publications for decades I interviewed celebrities published in Egypt Air’s official magazine; Horus, as well as Nisfdunia magazine, which is one of the publications of Al Ahram. @EGYPTAIR”
“It is noted that the previously mentioned publications are authorized to edit the final version of the interviews, according to adjustments required by the magazines in regards to size of the article without altering the core of the content…”
“This doesn’t negate the fact that the interview with Drew Barrimoor [sic] which took place in New York is genuine & far from fake. As far as Drew we interviewed her several times I saw her grow up before my eyes she is charming and talented.”
Al-Ahram Advertising Agency, responsible for editing Horus, released a statement affirming Takla’s accusations that they wrote an inaccurate introduction, “As is generally accepted, the lead is not part of the text of the article. It is a product of the editor’s creativity produced on the condition that it contains no information that is contrary to the truth.”
As for the inaccuracies in the article, they attributed them to translation, saying the problem was that the interview was translated to Arabic for Arabic readers, then back to English, “The translator is responsible solely for the accuracy of the translation to English,” according to the statement.
The HFPA issued their first statement on Thursday expressing their position, saying that “As an organization comprised of journalists, the H.F.P.A. expects its members to uphold the highest degree of integrity in their journalistic activities.”
“Based on our preliminary investigation, we understand that parts of the article in question were not written by Dr. Takla-O’Reilly and that other portions of the article may have come from other sources. We regret any distress caused to Ms. Barrymore by this article.”