THE PUBLICIST: Securing the perfect publicity shot requires maximum focus

Getting seven principal members of a movie cast together for a group publicity shot is, to say the least, challenging. It's also mandatory.

Getting seven principal members of a movie cast together for a group publicity shot is, to say the least, challenging. It's also mandatory.

From day one, the publicist is held accountable for that coveted shot. Get it, you're the hero. Fail, and you'll be looking for work as a grip. The photographer and I had been trying for three months. Three long, difficult months. "How's it looking for that group shot?" "Well, we're still trying to put it together, of course," I explained. "Haven't had them all here at once, and no one wants to come in on their day off. You know how that is." (That last part is always embellished with a knowing chuckle, which seeks to find empathy and support from the sympathetic ear on the other end. It rarely does, however.) "Well, you are going to get it, yes?" "Oh, sure. Yeah. We'll get it." We were never going to get it. The schedule was against us. The stars - celestial and terrestrial alike - were against us. On only two occasions had all seven worked the same day. Both were a wash due to bad weather and bad timing. And then came an unexpected break. Script changes suddenly required six of the actors on set at one time. Six! I only needed to wrangle one more and the world was mine! Alas, the missing thespian was elusive, with a penchant for nightlife and the territorial radius of a timberwolf. An all points bulletin was issued. Hours crept by. Nothing. My opportunity was slipping away, as was the sanity of the nervous photographer, who was mumbling to himself in the corner that no "artist" should have to endure this. Then, a news flash: "Edgar" had been found, oddly enough, in the hotel gym. A large driver removed the barbells from his chest in mid-bench press, threw him into a van, and whisked him to the set. Twenty minutes later, fully made up and dressed, and still somewhat dazed by the rapidity of events, he was ushered on the set to join us for the moment of triumph. The entire crew burst into applause, sharing in the publicity department's small but satisfying victory. I called the studio publicists to revel in our coup. "Great news," they cried. "By the way, you didn't have them all in costume did you? We wanted them in street clothes." A publicist's glory is fleeting, indeed.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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