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Bernie Mac hits a home run with savvy PR performance

Bernie Mac hits a home run with savvy PR performance

Bernie Mac had a double date last week. The fourth season bow of his TV series and the premiere of his new movie, Mr. 3000, took place on the same night.

Since I had already paid for the beer in the fridge, I opted for the premiere, where someone else would graciously be footing my bar tab. Held at the beautiful El Capitan Theater, it had all the requisite bells and whistles of a proper Tinseltown shindig. A locked- down Hollywood Boulevard, long limos, and hordes of paparazzi . The film was written by two pals of mine. It was nice to see their parents there, beaming with pride. (Clearly, they're unaware of the humiliations routinely suffered by movie scribes, or they would have insisted their sons go to dental school.)

Owing to the film's baseball theme (a retired player returns to the game to regain three forfeited hits, hoping to boost his chances at Hall of Fame induction), the evening attracted such diamond greats as Willie Mays, Dave Winfield, and Jose Canseco, the latter still cheesy after all these years. The bases were loaded with several other stars, some there to show support, others to pitch their own upcoming projects, explaining why some guy from The Apprentice was there. Premieres are understood to be an open publicity buffet. TV cameras and klieg lights are the equivalent of carrion to buzzards - everyone is welcome to feed, per pecking order. But sometimes celebs pull a "media hit and run" by departing after walking the red carpet, not even sticking around to see the movie.

Unlike some other stars, Mac has a solid grasp of what good publicity is, which is why, when Entertainment Tonight asked him to comment on the co-stars of the upcoming Ocean's 12, he wasn't having it.

"I'm not here to say things about anyone else," he told ET, "but I'm happy to talk about myself all night."

Way to go, Bernie. ET's practice of covering events only to pose questions to stars about other matters is tiresome. They devoted a scant nine seconds to the premiere, while Access Hollywood did a half-minute, including a sound bite from co-star Angela Bassett.

At the after-party, Bernie held court upstairs at the Highlands nightclub, while The Rock, standing nearby, attracted a similar throng. As the crowd gradually drifted out, some carrying inflatable bat souvenirs, the consensus seemed to be that the evening - if not a home run - was a solid stand-up double.

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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