TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Hackman's publicity stunt for 'Heist' is areal scene-stealer

Celebrities are known to whine when their publicists ask them to do

things to promote their new films, books or TV shows. As much as you

might enjoy watching your favorite stars hawk their upcoming wares, the

fact is they'd often rather not appear on The Tonight Show or speak to

Entertainment Tonight.

Publicists frequently hear, "Do I have to deal with that lady from

People? She seriously bugs me." Another common cry: "What? Another print

interview? I've already done six million today." The most effective

rejoinder to that is, "We've only done five million. C'mon ... one more,

please. This is for Good Housekeeping."

Five million print interviews are nothing. Compare that to what veteran

Hollywood publicist Dick Guttman asked his obliging client, Gene

Hackman, to do to promote his upcoming film Heist. Guttman convinced the

Oscar-winning thespian to take one for the team - right in the crotch.

That's right, the proverbial jewelry box, the 'nads, the buttercups.

Remember that, fellow pubs, the next time a client complains about

merely having to endure a pricelessly earnest Diane Sawyer


As likely reported in your daily newspaper, it seems the 71-year-old

Hackman became embroiled in a fender bender dispute, which was resolved

in the manly, but silly, fashion of fisticuffs. A former Marine private,

Gene landed a few good smacks before one of the adversaries kicked him

in his non-Marine privates.

Ouch! In the words of Austin Powers, "You don't give man a shot in the

pills. It's just not cricket." Unsurprisingly, the crotching tigers who

confronted Hackman were driving a Volvo.

While to the unsuspecting, this "accident" appears a chance mishap, I

smell the work of a publicity genius here. Only the wily Guttman can

still stage a stunt that makes headlines across the country. Dick was

probably weaving across lanes in a car ahead of Hackman trying to force

someone into his lane. Now that's a publicist!

What better PR for a movie tough guy than to open a can of whuppass on a

belligerent motorist? Wouldn't we all. But unless you're Gene Hackman or

Mike Tyson, I wouldn't recommend it. The ongoing terrorist threats and

an exhilarating football season have men everywhere ramped up on excess

testosterone and adrenaline.

A psychiatrist friend of mine, Dr. Carol Starr, says, "The anticipation

of a sporting event typically causes an increase in testosterone levels,

both for the athletes and for the spectators, even TV viewers!"

Translation: Don't tailgate face-painted UCLA Bruins fans on the way to

the Rose Bowl.

Indeed, even normally mellow Tinseltowners are edgy, including my docile

neighbor Ralph, who now carries pepper spray everywhere. In view of

that, "Sorry, my bad" is the watchword of these tense times.

My grandmother always used to say a smile is the best PR. And it's so

much nicer if you still have your teeth.

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