On the beat: entertainment/Los Angeles

Entertainment PR masterminds have relied on the most innovative new-media tactics to connect with consumers. Still, 2007 might ultimately be remembered as the year PR looked back.

Entertainment PR masterminds have relied on the most innovative new-media tactics to connect with consumers. Still, 2007 might ultimately be remembered as the year PR looked back.

Be it a movie or TV-show remake (3:10 to Yuma, Bionic Woman) or a new twist on an '80s fave (Transformers, Hairspray), entertainment publicity got positively retro. Take 20th Century Fox's endeavor on behalf of July's The Simpsons Movie, in which previously peaceful US Springfields battled to be voted the official home of Homer. Inventive and attention-grabbing, yes - but it was all for a series older than many of its most fervent fans.

While some stars attracted press more for their time behind bars than in them, Disney was transporting tweens to a more innocent era, particularly via sweet-and-sensitive Hannah Montana and clean-but-cool High School Musical 2.

Disney wasn't alone in its enlightened approach to good, old-fashioned entertainment. On July 7, the Live Earth concerts created a global community around music and climate-consciousness. After a teary send-off to retiring host Bob Barker, CBS renewed its commitment to The Price Is Right, tapping Drew Carey as its new star. And Christian community leaders played media watchdog, alerting filmgoers to sacrilege in films like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and The Golden Compass.

In LA, morality was an issue beyond the box office. Several metro medical centers were accused of dumping homeless patients on the city's drug-infested Skid Row. SoCal burned, prompting questions about the region's emergency-preparedness plans. And then-married LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa became romantically involved with newswoman Mirthala Salinas, prompting inquiries regarding his "devoted family man" image and her journalistic integrity.

As 2007 ends, much of the entertainment industry is overshadowed by the ongoing WGA-AMPTP conflict. Unable to agree on new-media residual payments, writers are leveraging a decades-old labor tack - striking - to convey their demands. What this means for entertainment PR and the economic well-being of LA is only beginning to become apparent. It doesn't look good.

But with reruns, TiVo, and DVDs, we still have Springfield.

In addition to choosing entries for PRWeek's 2007 Book of Lists, PRWeek reporters provided individual overviews of a year within their beat. "On the beat" columns are also dispersed throughout the Best of Lists 2007 PDF.


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