PUBLICIST: From Clinton to cheesesteaks, Philly can put on a great show

With a nod to WC Fields, who wouldn't rather be in Philadelphia for the 4th of July? This is where it all began.

With a nod to WC Fields, who wouldn't rather be in Philadelphia for the 4th of July? This is where it all began.

The Constitution, the Liberty Bell, Washington's home movies. (Sure, George was the father of our country, but what he really wanted to do was direct). I was in the City of Brotherly Love working on a new political reality show and had but two days to see everything. So much history, so little time.

We were taping a debate at the year-old Constitution Center. I was floored by the huge line of people waiting to get in. "Guess I must be quite the hotshot publicist after all," I smugly applauded myself.

Um, no. Turns out the huddled masses were waiting to see Bill Clinton, who was signing books on the same floor. Guess the former Prez shared Fields' sentiments, too. (Not to mention a very similar-looking proboscis. Have you nose-ticed that?)

Smelling a grand column opportunity, I waltzed in to try to find a PR rep to give me the lowdown on Clinton's smash summer signing sessions, which have taken him halfway across the country. I was abruptly halted and interrogated by a huge door dressed in a suit. My God, an entire family could live in that suit. Did he have to take out a mortgage for it? I explained my desire to speak to "a PR rep for Clinton" and was directed to another Secret Service agent, only slightly less immense than the first.

"Not possible," I was told. Something about credentials. I pleaded my case. "I see a PR rep standing right over there. Giveaway? The clipboard. Can't I go over there and speak with him for a sec?" I considered gesticulating wildly for attention, but realized making sudden and strange moves around bored and irritated Secret Service men could be hazardous to my health.

Clinton was only 30 yards away. If I could just make eye contact...

"Sir, you'll have to go back behind the ropes."

Later, I met the Constitution Center's director, a nice man who volunteered to introduce me to the ex-Prez's peeps. Too late. The Clinton caravan had hit the road.

Oh, well. Our show was a hit. That night's fireworks were spectacular. Like Bill, Philly is a "comeback" city, with two new stadiums, authentic people, and more damn history than you can shake a stick at. No wonder M. Night Shamylan likes to make his movies here. And you can't get cheesesteaks like this in Hollywood.

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

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