TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Tinseltown's newest awards are not for thefaint-hearted flacks

For my New Year's resolution, I've decided to embrace the age-old

adage, If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. No more railing against the

proliferation of fatuous award shows from my modest pulpit. The Machine

is simply too big, too menacing to be stopped. So I'm feeding it myself.

May I present, for your post-holiday enjoyment, the first annual

"Tinseltown Tops" (T-Top) Awards, honoring outstanding achievements in

the field of entertainment publicity and home gardening. Let's get right

to it.

The T-Top MOP (Most Outstanding Publicist). Choosing two finalists was

easy. Selecting the winner was not. Who could overlook the Hamptons

Hellfire, Lizzie Grubman, whose spirited handling of her Daddy's SUV in

a moment of personal crisis garnered worldwide headlines. Her plight

held our interest all summer, against stiff competition from the likes

of Condit/Levy. Lizzie is one publicist who fully understands the

saying, "If you can keep your headlines while others are losing

theirs ..."

In an ordinary year, Lizzie would have waltzed away with the prize, but

not so fast. This was also the year of the infamous Cindi Berger power

play. The PMK publicist was caught on camera yanking the mike from her

irrationally exuberant client, Mariah Carey, as if the songbird were

about to reveal state secrets to her gathered throng of adoring fans.

She was.

I have it on good information that Carey was, indeed, about to reveal

confidential test results on our missile defense system. (C'mon, you

think her subsequent hospital admission was really for "exhaustion?" It

was the CIA, man.) Anyway, we know who the Daddy is in this

client/publicist relationship. And being Daddy is better than

embarrassing Daddy. The winner, by the Daddy factor, is Berger.

Most Embarrassing Studio Publicity. Let's admit it, we're publicists,

not Abraham Lincoln. We fudge the truth a bit on occasion. We're not

liars, OK, but we're not overly inclined to let facts get in the way of

a good story. Or blurb. But Sony got busted. Big time. The David Manning

fiasco (in which Sony created fake favorable film reviews) is an

all-time classic.

The reaction from other studio publicists was delightful snickering,

followed by the horrified thought, "We're not doing that, too, are we?"

Sony wins this one in a romp.

Most Overhyped Studio Campaign. Pearl Harbor vs. Harry Potter. Most view

the former campaign as tasteless, the latter as nauseating. As Potter

was the better film, let's let it off the hook and give the prize to

Harbor, which blatantly attempted to drag us to the theater by our


Honorable mention: Planet of the Apes.

Journalist Impersonating a (Shame-less) Publicist Award. Entertainment

Weekly's Dan Fierman wrote an obsequious homage to the remake of Ocean's

Eleven that would make even the most hyperbolic publicist blush. True,

the remake is better, but the actors, no matter how well-dressed, are

not. Charisma doesn't come from cloth. This new-school cast can't touch

the Rat Pack, proving again there's still just one Chairman, and his

name is Frank.

Happy New Year, to winners and losers alike.

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