By Joshua Rich
Updated February 15, 2007 at 12:00 PM EST

Oh, Larry, Larry, Larry. Millions of people watch you every night and, apparently, take you pretty seriously. But after I witnessed your bad behavior at a recent movie screening in Beverly Hills, I think I’m gonna have a hard time doing the same in the future.

Let me explain. Universal Pictures held a critics’ screening of the new Ryan Phillippe-Chris Cooper FBI-espionage thriller Breach last Friday morning, and I attended. I sat right there in the front row of the tiny private screening room, and old Lar happened to be perched in the row behind me. Shortly after the movie started, however, Lar started getting calls on his cell phone. Polite guy that he is, he had the thing set on vibrate. Less-than-polite guy that he is, he kept getting in and out of his seat to take the calls. (Gotta love how you could see his perfectly-coiffed profile move along the screen in silhouette each time he went back and forth.) Even-lesser-than-polite guy that he is, he gave up on exiting the auditorium after a while and just had his conversations while sitting in his seat. Right there. While the big Hollywood film was playing and others were trying to watch. Yep.

Now, there’s no doubt that Lar is more important than I am, and, to be sure, his calls sounded mighty important: One, for example, seemed to come from an old friend whom he told, in his distinctive baritone, after a few minutes of catching up, “I’ll talk to you on Monday.” But his conduct was, shall we say, irritating, and it made paying attention to the film a real challenge. And I wasn’t the only irked and distracted member of the audience: As this Los Angeles Times column about old Lar mentions, his behavior nearly led to a fight breaking out (between two other viewers) right in the middle of the movie. True story, PopWatchers.

addCredit(“Larry King: Steve Granitz/”)

Oh, but that’s not the end of it. I opened up my copies of the L.A. Times and the New York Times today and, lo and behold, there’s a splashy quote from Lar himself, praising Breach.It reads: “A spine-tingling true drama. Chris Cooper is magnificent.There isn’t a dull moment.” Uh, well, it’s no surprise that the guythought there wasn’t a dull moment in the movie — hell, he kept movingaround and nearly started a scuffle! Indeed, this was one action-packedscreening. It’s just that there was more action happening in thetheater than in the film.

To be fair, I have to agree with Lar on everything in his quote: I liked Breach (as did EW’s Owen Gleiberman, by the way). But this whole episode leaves me really concerned and confused. I wonder, as did the author of that L.A. Timescolumn, if people do take Lar’s critical opinion about movies to heart— is he a movie critic? I wonder if there’s a chance that Lar’sendorsement might actually hurt this film that I liked. I wonder if hisquotes somehow dilute the impact of “real” critics. I wonder how he’deven know what to say about this film since it’s crystal clear that hewasn’t paying attention to it for long stretches. I wonder,PopWatchers, I wonder.