To prepare for his starring role as a cub reporter in ''Edison,'' Justin Timberlake was going to go undercover. He announced he was going to tag along with a real journalist to pick up some pointers, but he said he wasn't going to reveal the identity of his lucky tutor, lest the poor scribe get mobbed and be unable to do his or her job. Nonetheless, the Associated Press found out the name of Timberlake's advisor -- not too hard, since it was AP's own Bob Porterfield. AP reports that Porterfield was indeed mobbed when Timberlake accompanied him to the Los Angeles County Courthouse last week.
Porterfield showed the singer how to do a public records search, using as an example court papers regarding an old lawsuit filed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Denzel Washington against an electronics firm that allegedly used their likenesses without permission in its ads. In ''Edison,'' Timberlake will have to convincingly seem like he knows how to find such records, since his character uncovers a citywide police corruption scandal. Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey are his costars.
Porterfield, who's won two Pulitzer prizes and teaches journalism to graduate students, said of his star pupil: ''I thought he was sharp. He seemed attentive and interested in learning this stuff. He has a real interest in developing his part. He took quite a few notes.'' In other words, Timberlake could have a career to fall back on if this showbiz thing doesn't pan out.