The aftershocks of the George Christy saga are still reverberating
at The Hollywood Reporter, one of two leading trade papers covering the
entertainment industry. The Reporter's editor, Anita Busch, resigned
after publisher Robert Dowling refused to print a controversial article
about Christy, the paper's longtime society columnist. The story,
written by staffer David Robb (who also resigned), claimed the Screen
Actors Guild was investigating Christy, a part-time thespian, for
receiving false acting credits which thus qualified him for undeserved
health and pension benefits.
Christy, who denies the allegations, frequents Hollywood premieres and
parties for his column, 'The Good Life,' about the frolicking of
celebrity elite. At a PR agency a few years ago, I was assigned Christy
detail, accompanying him and a photographer around a party and wrangling
a few celebs. He was not the chummiest sort, but we managed fine.
The Christy flap is a PR challenge for The Reporter, which under Busch's
tenure, has been trying to put the publication on par with the
bigger-selling Daily Variety, where Busch once worked.
In Robert Dowling's published response, he stated Robb and Busch were
pursuing a 'personal agenda' in their 'obsessive' and unethical
investigation of Christy, and that the story was reassigned, not killed.
He also mentions that Robb threatened SAG with a retaliatory salvo after
they complained about his investigation to Dowling.
Further, Dowling views Robb and Busch's campaign against the Reporter as
This may very well be so. One thing for certain, though: the media
doesn't like to turn its scrutiny inward. The rule is: do not eat your
So the mystery then, crack PR minds, is this: Did Christy receive bogus
credits? And if so, for what? Mentions in his column? No one has ever
promised me anything in exchange for mentions in my column. And I'm open
for suggestions. Wide open. Absolutely, positively receptive (that's
enough ... Ed).
Perhaps Christy's acting was so poor the directors cut him from their
movies. What quality of cinema are we talking about anyway, Oscar
caliber stuff or Go-Go Gorillas on the Lamb, Part II. (Like most
sequels, the latter pic, regrettably, did not live up to the
Aside from the ethical wrangling, the downside is that Anita Busch and
David Robb are no longer at the paper, and that will have an impact.
Maybe it has already. There was a lead story in last week's Variety
about the purchase of entertainment PR shop Huvane Baum Halls by
Interpublic Group's Momentum, which plans to merge HBH with PMK. (I hope
they don't call it PMK/HBH. That sounds like a horse tranquilizer.) I
saw nothing about this major transaction in The Hollywood Reporter.
Until the truth of this whole affair becomes clear, there will be a PR
storm cloud hanging over the paper.