Tales from Tinseltown: Time zones? Common sense? No match for a publicist’s ego!

There is often an uneasy alliance between freelance unit publicists (UP) who work on film sets, and agency personal publicists (APP) who represent actors. Sometimes their interests conflict. Sometimes their egos do.

There is often an uneasy alliance between freelance unit publicists (UP) who work on film sets, and agency personal publicists (APP) who represent actors. Sometimes their interests conflict. Sometimes their egos do.

There is often an uneasy alliance between freelance unit publicists

(UP) who work on film sets, and agency personal publicists (APP) who

represent actors. Sometimes their interests conflict. Sometimes their

egos do.



Studios and movie companies hire a UP on a per-film basis to handle cast

and filmmaker interviews during production. APPs often want to squelch

this press. Why? Perhaps a client has been getting too much exposure, or

a bigger individual story is in the works that might be jeopardized by a

production piece. The APP may simply wish to see how the movie turns out

first.



Having done both jobs, I try to see each side. But it’s hard to see

anything when you’re awakened at 3 am by an APP asking if ’my talent’ is

nearby.



I was a unit publicist in a far-off land last year when I received such

a call. My first reaction was, ’Are you the pimp? She already left.’

(Ha! Just kidding, mom. Really. I mean it. Seriously.) My second and

much more conscious reaction was, ’Do you have any idea what time it is

here?’ The APP did not. Nor he did he have a clue to my third question,

which was, ’Do you know where I am?’



You will not believe his response, or you will not believe what I report

to be his response. But I swear on the church of the NFL that what I now

write is true: he asked, ’Is Australia in a different time zone?’



Here’s another. I called an APP from the set of a movie her client and I

were unfortunate enough to be laboring on. She snapped, ’He’s in

Canada.



I have no idea what you’re talking about. He’s not in Mexico, and he’s

certainly not in your stupid movie.’



’Well, yes, he is in my stupid movie. I’m looking at him right now.

We’re in his trailer.’



Her client, a comedic actor who’s rubbed shoulders with Oscar, was

laughing and spitting up (expensive) mineral water. He grabbed the phone

and said, ’Don’t worry. Keep showing your ignorance and you’ll be a

producer.’



I’m not suggesting these anecdotes represent the mentality of most

personal publicists, who are generally bright, articulate and focused.

But it illustrates a problem: they do not always keep track of what

their clients are doing and will sometimes take an adversarial stance if

insecure about a unit publicist’s on-set contact with their client.



When this happens, a UP will indeed rely on HCA - home court

advantage.



It’s persuasive to speak face-to-face with an actor in his trailer. Even

if he is supposed to be in Canada.



Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and

writer.



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