TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: The Hollywood policy on sick days: don’t call us, we’ll call you

In Hollywood, you don’t get sick. You raise money for sick people, but you yourself simply cannot get sick without your career feeling the consequences.

In Hollywood, you don’t get sick. You raise money for sick people, but you yourself simply cannot get sick without your career feeling the consequences.

In Hollywood, you don’t get sick. You raise money for sick people,

but you yourself simply cannot get sick without your career feeling the

consequences.



However, one star - Michael J. Fox, who announced last month that he is

leaving the day-to-day grind of a network TV series to concentrate on

his battle against Parkinson’s Disease - seems to have bucked this

trend.



Since the day he announced his departure from ABC’s Spin City, Fox has

been celebrated by media and industry types alike. While nobody is

taking credit for Fox’s break with usual Hollywood fortune - you get

sick, you get forgotten - some of the kudos deserve to be laid at the

feet of top Hollywood PR shop Baker/Winokur/Ryder.



Larry Winokur said the firm attempted to react in a ’quick, concise and

truthful’ manner on behalf of Fox, limiting the exposure to a written

statement and a handful of media interviews personally selected by the

actor.



’We find that if you move swiftly, honestly and resolutely, you have a

greater opportunity to keep the reporting on point.’



The strategy worked. When Hollywood celebrities or power brokers get the

sniffles - or heaven forbid, suffer an actual health crisis - the

publicity makes or breaks their net worth in the industry. In the most

severe cases, studios’ stock value rises or falls on the health of their

biggest draws.



Recently, Tinseltown has been hit with a spate of high-profile health

crises. News that Steven Spielberg had a kidney removed sent a shock

wave through Los Angeles that rivaled the Northridge earthquake.

Likewise, when Miramax co-chief Harvey Weinstein didn’t make the scene

at Sundance this year (his absence was eventually attributed to a

puzzling bacterial infection), the studio went into true crisis mode -

no less than Bob Weinstein, Harvey’s brother and co-chief, handled all

media calls himself.



By contrast, Spielberg publicist Marvin Levy made a statement that his

client had a kidney removed due to an irregularity. ’Once you’ve made a

rather bold statement that someone had a kidney taken out, there isn’t

much more you have to say except that the guy is back home, comfortable

and doing some work,’ he said.



Last week, an article in the LA Times seemed to imply that the mere

suggestion that Spielberg and Weinstein were having health problems

would make people hesitant to work with them.



Just about everyone dismissed this as laughable - as if anybody in

Hollywood would turn down an opportunity to work with Spielberg or

Weinstein even if they were six feet under.



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