TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Hollywood publicists get ready for move fromticket line to picket line

With writer and actor strikes looming, some of the wage-earning

members of the film industry - the ones who can't afford to be out of

work indefinitely - are looking for potential business opportunities to

tide them over. Location scouts, key grips and camera operators alike

are scouring the newspaper for mom-and-pop shops to manage or own and

operate during the hiatus. Dry-cleaning, shoe stands, tattoo parlors,

yogurt shops - nothing is off the table in this dire situation.



For film publicists, the impending strike is even more ominous. A

hairdresser can always cut hair that doesn't belong to a movie star. An

art director can always do commercials. But a movie publicist needs,

well, a movie. For us, it's going to be a long dry summer.



That's why I already have my business venture lined up. I hesitate to

mention it because someone may steal the idea. All right, I'll trust

you.



Here it is: I'm going to open a hot dog stand in Malibu. It's pure gold.

Enjoy some sun, watch the waves.



And all I really have to do is say, 'You want I should put some mustard

on that?'



Not everyone has prepared as diligently as I have, alas. I know a unit

publicist in LA who, paying for the sin of her lavish spending habits,

says she can last about seven weeks without an income. And that's not

including her Tuesday lunch at the Ivy. She's so panicked she's

considering going back to a PR agency.



'I haven't worked at an agency in four years,' she told me. 'I dread the

thought.'



I didn't have the heart to mention it to her, but agencies may dread the

thought of being inundated by resumes from film publicists like her who

have become too specialized to be an effective hire. Especially when no

movies are being made. To make matters worse, the hi-tech balloon is

still losing air, causing agencies to reduce all hires, much less

nomadic generalists from the entertainment industry.



I'm thinking of forming a support group. We'll meet at my house one day

a week for cheap eats (whatever hot dogs I didn't sell that day,

probably) and have creative meetings.



Just as if we were actually employed. We'll bounce ideas off each other

about movies that don't exist, and devise effective campaigns to attract

fantasy audiences. Then we'll have a big premiere at the end of the

summer for our pretend movie. Maybe by the third week of football season

we'll all be back to work. On real movies.



In the meantime, let me know if you're in. I want to be sure to order

enough buns.



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