TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Road to Tinseltown is a short one for Washington publicists

These days, Hollywood public relations is all about the elections.

These days, Hollywood public relations is all about the elections.

These days, Hollywood public relations is all about the


Candidates for the presidency are venturing to the West Coast to garner

support and money from its high-profile constituents. At the same time,

Hollywood bigwigs often busy themselves with candidacies - or even toy

with running, in the case of Warren Beatty - for the myriad power lists

that appear in magazines such as Entertainment Weekly’s ’Power Issue’

and industry publications.

This, alas, is why the recent rash of Beltway-to-Dream-Factory

migrations shouldn’t be especially surprising to anyone. For Columbia

Pictures’ Barbara Dixon and 20th Century Fox’s Florence Grace, two of a

handful of PR pros who have made the move West, this season of platforms

and power lists highlights the differences between their past and

current careers.

Dixon, who worked for 13 years as a lobbyist for the Motion Picture

Association of America before joining Sony last year as SVP of

publicity, says that the most difficult part of leaving DC was that

after 20 years, the people she had worked with were in positions of

power and influence. ’These are people who are making policy decisions

that affect normal people, and I miss them,’ she says. On the other

hand, she adds that, ’In DC, you don’t get to interact with these very

creative, outside-the-box people like you do in Hollywood.’

Asked if they miss the weight given issues rather than individual egos,

both Dixon and Grace maintain a politically correct stance. ’The two

cities are alike because they are one-company towns,’ says Grace, a

Reagan White House veteran and current VP of corporate communications

for Fox. ’People here are more creative and are just trying to make

movies. Back there, they’re really trying to change the world.’

Pointing out similarities between the two PR climates, Grace says that

’as corporate people, our work tends to be more news-driven. We have to

react immediately, on deadlines, which goes back to everything we dealt

with at the White House.’

While Dixon says that the press is similar on both coasts, ’Out there

(DC), the press is about covering different issues, the big-picture

stuff like where are we on healthcare. The term ’publicist’ doesn’t

exist in Washington. You’re not publicizing someone or something - it’s

about communicating a message or an issue.’

Grace concedes, however, that Washington tends to have a better

understanding of how the press operates: ’They don’t have any illusions

that you can get a reporter to hold a story just because you don’t want

it to run.’ Clearly, a lesson that needs to be learned.

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