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
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.