THE PUBLICIST: Publicists bask in a brief pre-Oscar moment in the spotlight

It's the Friday before the Oscars, which means the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom is stuffed full o' publicists and a scattering of celebs and journalists. It's the epicenter of the entertainment universe, albeit briefly. Yes, kids, it's the annual self-adoration snoozer known as the Publicists Guild luncheon. I'm not saying the boredom teetered on painful, but the Marquis de Sade would have been ecstatic.

It's the Friday before the Oscars, which means the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom is stuffed full o' publicists and a scattering of celebs and journalists. It's the epicenter of the entertainment universe, albeit briefly. Yes, kids, it's the annual self-adoration snoozer known as the Publicists Guild luncheon. I'm not saying the boredom teetered on painful, but the Marquis de Sade would have been ecstatic.

I'm kidding. This year's event - with its usual female-to-male ratio equaling that of a dental hygienist convention - wasn't half bad, owing to the funny emcee, Jimmy Kimmel, and the presence of his eminence, Clint Eastwood. Yeah, that's right. Dirty Harry came by to collect a lifetime achievement award. Are you kidding me? One of the top five movie stars of all time breaks bread with us, and umpteen of my fellow pubs leave beforehand or can't get off their cell phones? What is this, "Make my half-day?"

The media coverage of the luncheon gets better each year - as do the gift bags. Listen to this haul: a book (what screenplays are based on, if you're confused); a key chain, mints, magazines, gift certificates, bottled water, and five DVDs - including The Simple Life and Pirates of the Caribbean. Woo hoo! Hey, I know it's not what Oscar presenters get (basically their own keys to Fort Knox), but it's a huge step up from the ink pens and VHS movies like Death Sentence 4 we received in the early '90s. (I skipped seven years of the event, upon the advice of my therapist).

Julie Andrews got a standing O. Kiefer Sutherland was given a hand too. (A friend of mine is the photographer on 24, and says very good things about him).

A commemoration of Disney's 80th anniversary featuring Mickey himself was fun, but went over a bit awkwardly due to the company's current boardroom squabbles. That itself is puzzling, given Disney's films last year earned an industry-record gross.

The Guild's top honor is the Les Mason Award for career achievement. Two of the five nominees were unit publicists (always a safe choice, as they go months at a time never being heard from). The other three were from Warner Bros. Is that fair? Sure, the WB folks rock, but what about the good publicists at Fox, Disney, and Paramount? Next year I want this settled on the red carpet: clipboards and Blackberries at 20 paces, followed by a "best paparazzi smackdown" competition.

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

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