Diary: Tales from Tinseltown - Hollywood may be on holiday, but publicists are on the move

August is downtime in Hollywood, when executives take their families on holiday and business dealings grind to a halt. Which is precisely why August is the month to watch. It’s transfer season, when companies take advantage of the lull in activity to reshape their exec corps.

August is downtime in Hollywood, when executives take their families on holiday and business dealings grind to a halt. Which is precisely why August is the month to watch. It’s transfer season, when companies take advantage of the lull in activity to reshape their exec corps.

August is downtime in Hollywood, when executives take their

families on holiday and business dealings grind to a halt. Which is

precisely why August is the month to watch. It’s transfer season, when

companies take advantage of the lull in activity to reshape their exec

corps.



Publicity is no exception. As the summer has progressed, a number of

shake-ups have occurred, and the burst of activity has underlined two

undeniable dictums about publicity.



The first is that, like talent agents, talent publicists are only as

good as their client lists - clients normally, but not exclusively,

remain loyal to the publicist rather than to the agency. The second is

that at some point a successful publicist will always want to move to

another agency, or set up his/her own. This is why entertainment PR has

become so fragmented and cluttered with start-up entrepreneurial

firms.



Two moves stand out: Desiree Gruber, who last month quit her job as a VP

at Rogers & Cowan to set up Full Picture, her own venture in New York;

and PMK stalwart Mara Buxbaum, who left Pat Kingsley’s powerhouse shop

to become a partner in Kelly Bush’s small but trendy agency I/D Public

Relations.



Underlining the see-saw nature of publicity, many of Gruber and

Buxbaum’s clients are said to be traveling with them. Gruber’s roster

includes Naomi Campbell and Miramax Films, while Buxbaum reps Christina

Ricci and Mira Sorvino.



Gruber, 32, is said to be driven by the desire to control her own

destiny.



Full Picture is symbolic of the broader ambitions of today’s younger

publicists.



In addition to plain old publicity, Gruber’s full-service venture aims

to be a production and management company that will also raise finance

for film and TV projects.



I/D, on the other hand, is already snapping at the heels of PMK.

Buxbaum’s list fits well with I/D, which has grown on the back of young

talent such as Mike Myers, Brendan Fraser, Natalie Portman and Ben

Stiller. Conversely, PMK and Rogers & Cowan deal primarily in

established stars. But I/D isn’t taking over yet. The talent players -

which aside from PMK and Rogers & Cowan include BWR and DDA - still

control most film stars.



But the bigger agencies have been put on notice. They will find it

harder to hold onto dynamic staff members, especially those that have

created their own power bases by developing close ties with clients.



Nobody is invulnerable. PR agencies, especially those that focus on

talent representation, must bring in emerging actors in order to stay

fresh.



Otherwise, August will cease to be quiet and become bloody.



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