THE PUBLICIST: Inebriated actors can turn film PR into a sobering experience

Once in a while - when there's no football on TV and I'm out of beer - I meet with a fellow publicist to share an adult beverage and lament the fact we never went to law school. We swap shop horror stories and talk about going straight, knowing full well we'd both gladly jump on the next plane to the next job before the bill arrived.

Once in a while - when there's no football on TV and I'm out of beer - I meet with a fellow publicist to share an adult beverage and lament the fact we never went to law school. We swap shop horror stories and talk about going straight, knowing full well we'd both gladly jump on the next plane to the next job before the bill arrived.

Usually the disasters from my previous assignment take top prize (which means I pick up the tab), but not this time. I listened with delighted empathy as my friend regaled me with misadventures on a film she just wrapped in Italy. Working abroad is fun. Studio bosses are an ocean away, the locations are gorgeous, and the crew is multicultured and sophisticated. (I'm not saying LA crews are less sophisticated and cultured than Euro crews, it's just that, well, they are.) Plus, the Euro press is a real hoot - a different breed than American journalists. My pal had assembled about 20 members of the aforementioned clique for a press junket with the stars of the film she was working on - a romantic comedy that sweeps across pretty much all of Europe. It had been a tough task to begin with, arranging travel and lodging for writers from nine different countries. But here they all were, bright and early, awaiting two principal cast members, who were already 20 minutes late. The donuts and bagels were gone. Our poor publicist had exhausted her supply of stalling happy talk. Yes, they'd all been to Venice before. Yes, it was very nice. OK, then... Our subjects finally showed up 45 minutes late. It would be polite to say they were "hung over," but they weren't. They were...still drunk. Sloppy, red-eyed, slurred-word sloshed. Apparently they had quite the time of it the night before. And were still having it. After five minutes it was apparent that impending disaster was unfolding. The two plastered thespians were a high-wire act about to fall, so our publicist stepped in, apologized, and escorted the journalists to a new location. An interview was hastily arranged with another actor, who was, praise be, sober. Incredibly, the two inebriated ingrates complained the publicist had "embarrassed" them. The producers, to their credit, sided with the publicist (a rare event) and called the actors' agents. Apologies were made; fences were mended. My friend even extracted promises from all the writers to ignore the incident. She deserves a medal, but had to settle for a drink - on me.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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