THE PUBLICIST: Movie-goers will always get a top performance at ShoWest

Selling toilet partitions may not seem glamorous, but for a guy I met in Vegas (let's call him "John"), it's more than just a job. It's showbiz. John, you see, sells his toilet partition hardware to movie theaters. Merchants like John mingle with theater owners each year at ShoWest, where 500 vendors' booths hawk everything from cafe-style coffee drinks and endless varieties of candy to the latest in chairs and loudspeakers.

Selling toilet partitions may not seem glamorous, but for a guy I met in Vegas (let's call him "John"), it's more than just a job. It's showbiz. John, you see, sells his toilet partition hardware to movie theaters. Merchants like John mingle with theater owners each year at ShoWest, where 500 vendors' booths hawk everything from cafe-style coffee drinks and endless varieties of candy to the latest in chairs and loudspeakers.

The freebies are great. I didn't buy a meal all day. Think Raisinettes rule? Wait until you see the breakthrough they've made in taffy technology. Publicists and promoters are there to answer questions and steer you towards their displays. The most popular vendor dispensed with all that and poured free margaritas. As a conscientious reporter, I felt compelled to partake of everything on the premises. I asked pointed questions ("Any more chocolate?"), and listened to the latest digital audio systems. I made sure to pick up every single brochure and try all the varieties of popcorn. I even fell asleep in one of the marvelous "executive screening room" chairs. I was awakened somewhat brusquely, I might add, which is why I shan't name the brand. (Think of that next time you interrupt someone dreaming about Monica Belluci, mister. And you know who you are.) The 3,000 ShoWest conventioneers, like all Vegas visitors, hail from across the US. They ranged from single theater owners, to studio execs, to multiplex moguls. They share a single mission: to make the film-going experience as exciting and pleasant as possible - within reason. A civilian at a seminar asked why theaters don't run the "#$@%&" trailers at film's end, sparing those who don't wish to see them. A stunned silence followed, and the moderator quickly moved to the next question. The highlights of the convention are the invitation-only screenings of major upcoming movies, and the related press conferences. Big stars have attended these events in past years, but not recently. Don't know why. But it matters not. Business is booming at the Cineplex, despite the cost of tickets and the advent of wide-screen high-definition home theaters. Going to the movies is a social experience few are willing to abandon, even at the cost of $30 bucks for two tickets and snacks. With that in mind, theater owners are determined to make you happy and comfy. Which is why I'm holding out for Laz-Y-Boys. And better pizza.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer.

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