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Jason Schwartzman and Jesse Dylan Promote L.A. Museums in Short Film (First Look)

The PSA -- publicizing the new Pacific Standard Time arts initiative -- stars the actor as a man who can't outrun conceptual artist John Baldessari.

The print ad for the campaign. Photo by Jesse Dylan.

The Hollywood Reporter has first-look footage of a new comedic short film starring actor Jason Schwartzman.

Helmed by director Jesse Dylan (Kicking & Screaming, American Wedding), the almost-five-minute PSA, shot at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, promotes the sprawling new arts initiative Pacific Standard Time. The museum extravaganza, beginning in October, will see 60-plus exhibits open in 2011 and 2012. The Getty Trust-funded program showcases the work of Southern California artists and designers between 1945 and 1980, giving context to how L.A. has become the major art capital it is today. 

In the spot, titled Pacific Standard Time: Jason Schwartzman Celebrates John Baldessari, the Bored to Death star is followed by a huge image of white-bearded conceptual artist John Baldessari, who talks to him from walls. The artist appears after Schwartzman is heard saying to a friend: "Wanna go check out the museum? Are you kidding me? Have a good night. I don't like art?"

Baldessari -- known for his works which question the very nature of viewing art and for his signature works, among others, showing blue dots covering faces -- engages in a playful dialogue with the actor about museum-going. 

"Metaphorically, if you give some kids some gorgonzola cheese, you know, they are going to spit it out. But if you give them some Velveeta they say 'Um yummy' and then maybe when they are young adults they are really gonna savor gorgonzola cheese and arts like that," says Baldessari.

To which Schwartzman responds: "Stop following me." Eventually the artist gently convinces Schwartzman to check out the museum. "I think the best thing is not to be intimidated and if you don't like something you just say you don't like it. That's fine," says the artist.

The PSA is an innovative approach from TBWA\CHIA\DAY, which also recently released another spot pairing musician Anthony Kiedis with painter Ed Ruscha, who along with Baldessari, also has works spotlighted in Pacific Standard Time shows. The ad agency felt strongly that an on-the-nose, earnest tone was not what it wanted. The idea was to link influential artists with today's creative forces. A print ad is also being released featuring Ice Cube and the late furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames.

"The traditional way museums and shows market themselves tends to be to showcase a signature piece of artwork with the name and the date from and to and pole banners or posters. It's a convention. What we wanted to do was turn that upside down. We wanted to make the short film accessible and also make your curious in a light-hearted way," says Patrick O'Neill, executive creative director of TBWA\CHIAT\DAY Los Angeles.

Schwartman was especially thrilled to meet Baldessari. "I am a fan of Mr. Baldessari's work and I couldn't believe I actually got to go to his studio and talk to him," says the actor. "I talked to John for almost an hour and a half. Look at how I went from Mr. Baldessari to John so quickly in this conversation. I've never met a famous artist before."

Director Dylan, who also is the CEO and creative director of media-production company Wondros, and Schwartzman had met years ago. Dylan, who calls Schwartzman his "dream guy," called up the actor out of the blue. "Jason's acting style has an intelligence and curiosity about things that you relate to and that was John Baldessari's approach back in the day. It's a charming and unexpected pairing," says Dylan, who says the idea of projecting Baldessari's face on the sides of buildings "came from a fragment of a dream."

"I actually go to museums with my kids at least once every three weeks. We need to appreciate artists even more. They are a precious commodity of Los Angeles," adds Dylan.

What do you think?

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