You know how the saying goes: ’If you can’t beat ’em, get someone else to do it.’ And if that doesn’t work, join ’em.
You know how the saying goes: ’If you can’t beat ’em, get someone
else to do it.’ And if that doesn’t work, join ’em.
The latter seems to be the case with Harry Knowles, the Web site guru
whose www.aint-it-cool-news.com has been a thorn in the side of
Tinseltown publicists and studio execs alike. With the aid of hundreds -
if not thousands - of readers and fellow movie freaks and geeks, Knowles
gathers and reveals juicy inside info: early and final drafts of
scripts, casting decisions, test screening reactions and other assorted
Sometimes he manages to know things before studio bigwigs do. Most of
the time, he manages to annoy them. Knowles, a former collectibles
(read: junk) dealer who operates out of Austin, is not above bagging on
films or revealing endings. He’s become a powerful force, capable of
starting a favorable buzz or a negative wave.
Fearing a modern-day Walter Winchell in the making, some publicists have
begun courting his favor. Columbia Pictures even flew Harry to Prague to
cover the set of its medieval adventure, A Knight’s Tale. The film’s
director, Brian Helgeland, wanted Harry to check out the film’s
impressive locations and costumes, maybe do a little jousting and flirt
with a few damsels.
Since Harry was in town, I asked him to visit my set as well. (Sorry,
Columbia, I know it’s your dime.) Hey, I’m no dummy - I want Knowles on
our side. And I like that someone from outside New York or LA has a
national voice in the film industry.
My studio bosses were a little nervous, and I was told to keep a close
eye on Harry. Make sure he didn’t corner and interrogate an unsuspecting
script supervisor or best boy for some dish. Keep him from overhearing
sensitive conversations, like whether the caterers would dare serve pork
for a fourth day in a row, or from ’borrowing’ one of our cool props
(we’ve got lots).
I was prepared to take strong measures should Harry stray. Beefy
security guards were at the ready. Gag orders were in place. The whole
site was set to blow.
Harry, however, was a perfect gentleman. He spoke affably with the
filmmakers, toured the set quietly and made no unreasonable requests.
And not a single thing was missing when he left. The next day, a witty,
complimentary story appeared on his Web site. Part fiction, part truth -
just like a presidential campaign.
Has the beast been tamed? Who knows. Maybe Harry just wants to be liked,
as we all do. Or maybe he’s just luring us publicists into complacency,
planning to unleash a Trojan horse. Perhaps he wants to become one of
Nah. I think he just dug the set.
Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and