Next Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony is the biggest day of the year for entertainment publicists. Getting your client the right exposure during the run-up is critical.
Next Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony is the biggest day of the
year for entertainment publicists. Getting your client the right
exposure during the run-up is critical.
For many, Access Hollywood is one of the best places to have your
Its ratings might be lower than rival Entertainment Tonight, but the
daily magazine show is a must-watch in the star-centric markets of New
York and Los Angeles.
The competition for coverage is heating up, however, and co-executive
producer Rob Silverstein has rejected a lot of what he’s been
’We look at films and ask who’s in it? Are people interested in this
person or in that story,’ he says.
The staff starts work at 4:30 am PST and by 7:30 am Silverstein has a
run-down of what is going into the 22 minutes of airtime he has to
The NBC-produced show is taped between 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm and shown at
different times across the country.
The co-executive producer, who works with a team of senior producers and
segment producers, has a pitching session daily and a serious planning
session weekly. ’We want to know from everyone, what’s the Access
Hollywood angle?’ he says. ’Basically then it’s a yea or nay.’
Silverstein joined the show when it first launched four years ago. He is
a three-time Emmy Award-winning sports producer. The pacy format and
punchy delivery is reminiscent of sports casting, so it’s no wonder that
Silverstein’s aim is: ’To make Access Hollywood the SportsCenter of
The native New Yorker is now located on the left coast and says, ’Our
relationship with publicists is tremendous. They love our hipness, and
celebrities like to be on the show.’
Silverstein describes Oscar weekend: ’It is like an army going to
We have 10 cameras and we bring back all the material; the arrivals,
what happened at the show and for 48 hours nobody sleeps. We get our
best stuff there, it is our Super Bowl.’
Movies are Access Hollywood’s biggest topic anyway, getting a daily
mention among the 15 to 17 stories that run each show.
The producers work four different beats - film, TV, music and news
(which they all cover) - and are also assigned specific film studios.
Access Hollywood has a New York bureau with two to three crews who can
shoot at a moment’s notice. The office is equipped with editing
facilities that allow it to feed into the LA office.
But Access Hollywood producers are not just listening to pitches, they
are out there shoring up relationships with the likes of publicity firms
Rogers & Cowan and PMK. ’We want to pitch publicists,’ says
’We are trying to be pro-active. It is not good enough just to go on the
set anymore. We have to ask, what do we want from this?’
The Oscars are not the only awards that bring in viewers for the
magazine show. This year Access Hollywood dedicated its entire February
24 program to a post-day round-up of the Grammy Awards, which reaped the
highest-ever ratings. Nationally it scored a four rating/1 share,
against its season-to-date performance of a 2.3 rating (about 2.9
Those figures have helped increase interest in music items.
Shira Berk, publicity manager at Rolling Stone magazine, says she
pitches the show all the time. ’We did a cover story on Santana, who had
given us an exclusive, and Access Hollywood did a piece with our music
editor. They’ll take your story and don’t really care what ET is doing
with it. They stick to embargoes and are great about doing bigger
Access Hollywood, anchored by Pat O’Brien, a former CBS sports anchor,
and Nancy O’Dell, a former investigative reporter for a Miami TV
station, has scored a number of scoops recently. The team worked with
PMK publicist Melissa Kates to bag an interview with Calista Flockhart.
Michael J. Fox did only one interview about his decision to quit Spin
City - and that was with Access Hollywood.
Two weeks ago, the team sat down and each came up with five A-list
celebrities they’d like to get on the show. Among them is actress Halle
Berry, who was injured in a controversial car accident. ’Nancy O’Dell is
handling the story very delicately,’ Silverstein says. ’I think when she
is ready to talk, she’ll come to us.’
Silverstein explains that the show’s success has all to do with the
’There is a trust that publicists have with us. The Michael J. Fox
appearance needed handling in a classy, not maudlin way.’
Nancy Haberman, EVP and media director at Rubenstein Associates,
recently pitched a charity event involving Katie Couric. She works
regularly with New York-based producer Jeneine Doucette and explains
that if you’re approaching the show, you need to know who and what you
’We pitched them something on a new colon cancer initiative involving
Katie Couric,’ Haberman says. ’You can’t just ask them to turn up, you
have to offer them something to make it more interesting. If they ask
you, you have to know what you are going to be able to provide.’
Of course, Access Hollywood is a news show and when news breaks you
should be prepared to get dumped, Silverstein says. He always insists
that people are made aware they won’t be on and tries his best to
reschedule people for the following day’s show.
His attitude to exclusives is flexible. ’We don’t demand them. There are
stories out there viewers want to see and we are confident in our
ability to make them compelling. We are straight forward and make no
Access Hollywood is also aware of the tight press restrictions some
movie studios work under, which on occasion forces them to accept
pre-recorded publicity material. ’If Madonna is doing a movie and it is
tight security, you have to make a comprise,’ he says, but b-roll is
usually a no-go.
3000 West Alameda Avenue
Burbank, CA 91523
Tel: (818) 526 7000
Fax: (818) 526 7001
Executive producer: Gary Considine
Co-executive producer: Rob Silverstein
Supervising producers: Barry Berk, Clay Smith
Senior segment producers: Mark Bracco (television) Nancy Harrison
(music) Adam Jordan (film) Dave Wong (film)
New York Bureau
10 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (212) 332 3140
Fax: (212) 332 3141
Bureau manager: Chris Fahey
Senior segment producers: Jeneine Doucette; Melissa Pervel.