PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: A real-life blastoff for 'Thirteen Days'

LOS ANGELES: The PR staff at New Line Cinema wasn't satisfied with

a high-profile White House screening of its new film, Thirteen Days -

even though the showing, arranged by former Clinton press secretary Mike

McCurry and attended by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), provided President Bush

the perfect opportunity to flash his bipartisan credentials and got

major national coverage. Nonetheless New Line had even higher designs

for its celluloid.

New Line's PR staff of 20, with help from Santa Monica PR consultant

Stephen Rivers, arranged for a DVD copy of the film to be stowed aboard

the Space Shuttle Atlantis when it blasted off en route to the

International Space Station earlier this month. There, the film, which

revisits the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, was viewed by two Russian

cosmonauts and an American astronaut.

'You had cosmonauts joining with an astronaut to dramatize a chapter in

American history where we were eyeball to eyeball, and now we're working

shoulder to shoulder,' said Steve Elzer, SVP of corporate communications

at New Line. 'That was the pitch, and that's why we got such tremendous


The story was promptly snapped up by CNN, AP and Reuters, and trickled

down to dozens of local outlets from there.

Elzer said studio officials with shuttle crew contacts helped oil the

wheels. New Line has also held screenings at the UN, Harvard University

and in the Library of Congress.

Elzer noted that most cinematic PR campaigns this time of year are aimed

at seducing judges for the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes. 'While

we're certainly trying to do that, we're really trying to get the

attention of policy makers and world leaders,' said Elzer.

Well, we may not be the Academy, but New Line's space-age campaign

handily wins our PR Play of the Week.

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