LAST CALL: Tales from Tinseltown - Awards take sting out of beingcinematographers' 'bitches'

Which movie had the best publicity campaign: American Pie 2, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Legally Blonde, Moulin Rouge or Shrek?

Which movie had the best publicity campaign: American Pie 2, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Legally Blonde, Moulin Rouge or Shrek?

That's one of five vexing questions we union film publicists will answer at our annual Publicists Guild luncheon this week. The other award categories are for the top TV campaign, publicist, and domestic and international entertainment journalist. The bonus question is: Who would win in a fight between Britney Spears and Barbara Walters? My money's on Babs. Sure, she's giving up a few years, but she's a scrapper.

Entertainment publicists are involved in virtually every other organization's award shows, so it's only natural we would develop a case of award envy.

Such an affliction can only be remedied with our very own kudos. The event is held every March a few days before the Academy Awards, and, in addition to ourselves, we honor a couple of producer bigwigs (to entice them to show up), and hand out a lifetime achievement award to a famous actor.

Last year, it went to Michael Douglas in recognition of the very active role he plays in promoting his films. I will not mention this year's winner because that would ruin the suspense. My perennial choice, Gary Coleman, was once again overlooked. That's why I boycott the luncheon. When the Guild comes to its senses and gives Coleman the acclaim he deserves, I'll be there.

I wasn't nominated for any of the publicist awards. It might help if I started paying those union dues on time. It might also help if I knew some of the other nominees. I only know two. One is a nice guy named Tim Menke, who was an assistant at Paramount a decade ago when I worked there. So he gets my vote. The other is a gal named Spooky. She's nice, too, but I have a firm rule to never cast a ballot, for any reason whatsoever, for someone called Spooky, Gilbert, or Dirk.

Bestowing these prestigious awards is one of the perks of belonging to the union. I'm trying hard to think of others, but I'm drawing blanks.

Give me a minute. Anyway, we don't even have our own union anymore, really.

We were swallowed up by the much larger Cinematographers Guild, whose members outnumber us nearly 13 to one. Hopefully they don't intend to take advantage of their superior ranks, but there are reasons to be concerned. The agenda for our first joint meeting mentioned a "touch-football game between photographers and the new bitches.

I'm pretty sure they mean us.

Maybe it will turn out to be a good thing. We'll say kind words about them to the press, and they'll include us in set photos. Oh, and I just thought of another perk: We now get 10% off film development costs at all participating Fotomats.

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