PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Ben's biggest success is admitting failure

LOS ANGELES: The biggest bomb this year not to come out of a B-52 is Gigli. The film, which stars real-life power couple Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, was met with reviews that ranged from stunned to angry, and in a rare moment of relevance for movie critics, the drama tanked at the box office.

LOS ANGELES: The biggest bomb this year not to come out of a B-52 is Gigli. The film, which stars real-life power couple Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, was met with reviews that ranged from stunned to angry, and in a rare moment of relevance for movie critics, the drama tanked at the box office.

But even in the wake of such failure, the stars' careers must go on. So the days following Gigli's release found Affleck doing crisis management on some of the US' most important media outlets. Appearing on The Tonight Show, Affleck made light of Bennifer's disaster by reading quotes from Gigli reviews aloud. He ended by cracking up about his favorite slam of all: a New York Times headline that read, "Ben and Jen Finally Get Some Privacy." The Today show ran clips of Affleck's Tonight Show spot two mornings in a row. Most immediately at stake is the star's forthcoming film Jersey Girl, which also features Lopez, albeit in a supporting role. In an interview with Reuters, Affleck played down his fiancee's role in the Kevin Smith-directed project set for release next year. "I think Jersey Girl is a really good movie," he said. "Jen is only in it for about 10 minutes, so it's not really a 'Me-and-Jen' movie. In fact, after the towering success of Gigli, I suspect Miramax will find a way to sell it as other than a 'Me-and-Jen' movie." The impromptu damage-control campaign was far from the typical media tours that Hollywood stars do for their films. Instead of fawning entertainment journalists lobbing softballs, Affleck had to endure the snarky comments of those preying on the critical and commercial failure, and he did it with wit, humor, and humility. Rather than blast the critics as many stars do, Ben admitted the movie was a flop. His acknowledgment of the mistake, his dealing openly with it, and his efforts to move on has the makings of a classic crisis PR strategy. And, though that won't get back the $10 you J. Lo fans dropped on the film, it does earn her beau PR Play of the Week.

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