On Los Angeles' KTLA this morning, an otherwise run-of-the-mill interview to promote the Robocop remake took a deeply awkward turn. "Did you get a lot of reaction to that Super Bowl commercial?" asks KTLA's Sam Rubin in an interview with Samuel L. Jackson. "What Super Bowl commercial?" asks Jackson. Rubin looks off camera, where someone is presumably telling him that he's made an error. "Oh — my mistake," says Rubin, trying to move on.
But it's too late. "You're as crazy as the people on Twitter. I'm not Laurence Fishburne!" says Jackson. (Fishburne starred in a Super Bowl ad for Kia's K900, riffing on his role as Morpheus in the Matrix trilogy.) "That's my fault, I know that. That was my fault," acknowledges Rubin.
But Jackson isn't letting him off the hook that easily. "We don't all look alike! We may be all black and famous, but we all don't look alike! You're busted. You're the entertainment reporter? You're the entertainment reporter for this station? And you don't know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne? There must be a very short line for your job."
At that point, Rubin tries to swivel the conversation back to Robocop. "Oh, hell no," says Jackson. "Really? Really? I'm the other guy. The other one. 'What's in your wallet?' [A reference to his commercials for Capital One.] There's more than one black guy doing a commercial. I'm the 'What's in your wallet?' black guy. He's the car black guy. Morgan Freeman is other credit card black guy. You only hear his voice, though, so you probably won't confuse him with Laurence Fishburne."
Somehow, the interview does eventually return to Robocop, but not for long; Jackson helpfully reminds Rubin to do some research before inviting any other Robocop cast members onto the show. "Make sure you don't confuse them with those other white actors that are out there, like Brad Pitt," says Jackson. "This is a well-deserved spanking. Thank you for it," acknowledges Rubin.
Later in the broadcast, Rubin changed his tune a little, in one of those non-apology apologies that have become the industry's status quo:
First and foremost, I do know who Samuel L. Jackson is. I've interviewed him several times over the years, but never quite like the conversation we just had. I indicated to Samuel that I had seen him during the Super Bowl, and he thought that I had confused him with the commercial Laurence Fishburne had done for a car company. Of course, a Captain America ad had also run during the Super Bowl, but I immediately felt so dumb I didn't bring that up, and he gave me the shellacking that was well-deserved. I pride myself on the fact that — unlike a lot of people who do this kind of work — I do know what I'm talking about. But I didn't 30 minutes ago, and I'm really embarrassed about it, and I very much apologize to Samuel L. Jackson and anyone else who was offended for what was a very amateur mistake.
In fairness to Rubin, Jackson did appear in two frames of a 30-second commercial spot for the Captain America sequel — but if that was really what he meant, why didn't he make any attempt to clarify? To recap: Not only is Rubin "apologizing" while insinuating that Jackson was wrong all along, he manages to slip in a cheap dig at all the other entertainment journalists out there. Stay classy, KTLA.