Tales from Tinseltown: Ain’t it cool? Knowles goes to Prague and stays out of trouble

You know how the saying goes: ’If you can’t beat ’em, get someone else to do it.’ And if that doesn’t work, join ’em.

You know how the saying goes: ’If you can’t beat ’em, get someone else to do it.’ And if that doesn’t work, join ’em.

You know how the saying goes: ’If you can’t beat ’em, get someone

else to do it.’ And if that doesn’t work, join ’em.



The latter seems to be the case with Harry Knowles, the Web site guru

whose www.aint-it-cool-news.com has been a thorn in the side of

Tinseltown publicists and studio execs alike. With the aid of hundreds -

if not thousands - of readers and fellow movie freaks and geeks, Knowles

gathers and reveals juicy inside info: early and final drafts of

scripts, casting decisions, test screening reactions and other assorted

scoops.



Sometimes he manages to know things before studio bigwigs do. Most of

the time, he manages to annoy them. Knowles, a former collectibles

(read: junk) dealer who operates out of Austin, is not above bagging on

films or revealing endings. He’s become a powerful force, capable of

starting a favorable buzz or a negative wave.



Fearing a modern-day Walter Winchell in the making, some publicists have

begun courting his favor. Columbia Pictures even flew Harry to Prague to

cover the set of its medieval adventure, A Knight’s Tale. The film’s

director, Brian Helgeland, wanted Harry to check out the film’s

impressive locations and costumes, maybe do a little jousting and flirt

with a few damsels.



Since Harry was in town, I asked him to visit my set as well. (Sorry,

Columbia, I know it’s your dime.) Hey, I’m no dummy - I want Knowles on

our side. And I like that someone from outside New York or LA has a

national voice in the film industry.



My studio bosses were a little nervous, and I was told to keep a close

eye on Harry. Make sure he didn’t corner and interrogate an unsuspecting

script supervisor or best boy for some dish. Keep him from overhearing

sensitive conversations, like whether the caterers would dare serve pork

for a fourth day in a row, or from ’borrowing’ one of our cool props

(we’ve got lots).



I was prepared to take strong measures should Harry stray. Beefy

security guards were at the ready. Gag orders were in place. The whole

site was set to blow.



Harry, however, was a perfect gentleman. He spoke affably with the

filmmakers, toured the set quietly and made no unreasonable requests.

And not a single thing was missing when he left. The next day, a witty,

complimentary story appeared on his Web site. Part fiction, part truth -

just like a presidential campaign.



Has the beast been tamed? Who knows. Maybe Harry just wants to be liked,

as we all do. Or maybe he’s just luring us publicists into complacency,

planning to unleash a Trojan horse. Perhaps he wants to become one of

us.



Nah. I think he just dug the set.





Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and

writer.



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