DIARY: Tales from Tinseltown - Kingsley’s eyes wide shut over PMK Cruise control obsession

A PR company must represent the interests of its client - but it’s not always possible to do this without alienating the media. A spat in Hollywood last week involving the prestigious publicity agency PMK illustrated this maxim perfectly.

A PR company must represent the interests of its client - but it’s not always possible to do this without alienating the media. A spat in Hollywood last week involving the prestigious publicity agency PMK illustrated this maxim perfectly.

A PR company must represent the interests of its client - but it’s

not always possible to do this without alienating the media. A spat in

Hollywood last week involving the prestigious publicity agency PMK

illustrated this maxim perfectly.



As reported here previously (PRWeek, July 12), PMK founder Pat Kingsley

gained an unprecedented say in the publicity campaign for the Stanley

Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut, due to her representation of both Tom

Cruise and Nicole Kidman.



Nobody questions Kingsley’s intimate knowledge of how the US press and

television networks operate, nor her ability to assess when to give

journalists total access - and when to shut them out.



In the case of Eyes, the normally infallible Kingsley appears to have

made a misstep. According to the Los Angeles Times, PMK distributed a

waiver at the film’s press junket requiring TV shows to present the

agency with rough cuts of Cruise interviews prior to transmission of

reports.



The PR firm would then get the opportunity to veto segments that it

didn’t like. In addition, the waiver obliged shows to destroy interview

footage that they weren’t going to use.



It’s not unusual in showbiz for PMK - or other agencies, for that matter

- to attempt to control how their star clients are depicted. Strategies

vary from approving questions in advance to selecting the journalist to

conduct an interview. If media outlets don’t agree to the agency’s

demands, they can face retaliation - such as being excluded from the

next Tom Cruise film.



The PMK waiver on Eyes, which went out to top shows such as

Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood, was clearly considered a

step too far. Kingsley said that when it was called to her attention,

she got rid of it. This is either because journalists refused to sign

it, or because she realized on her own that it was a tactical error.

Nonetheless, everybody interviewing Cruise was asked to sign a new

waiver, the content of which was unclear.



Kingsley told the LA Times that her primary concern was that if news

organizations had unrestricted access to interview footage, they would

be able to exploit Cruise’s image long after the campaign for Eyes was

over. In that vein, PMK denied MSNBC permission to run a series of old

Cruise interviews.



Of course, with Cruise - still in his prime - and many other major stars

on her roster, Kingsley obviously believes that she has the leverage to

make tough demands. And a lot of the time she does.



But the fact that even she can stumble serves as a warning to other

publicists.



Too often, agencies are asking for the earth on behalf of clients with

less than half the stature of Cruise. And even he won’t be Tom Cruise

forever.



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