The Publicist:

Rankings-snubbed stars join list of Hollywood publicist woes

Rankings-snubbed stars join list of Hollywood publicist woes

A handful of Hollywood publicists no doubt received angry - or at least disgruntled - phone calls and e-mails from unhappy clients when Premiere's "Top 50 movie stars of all time" April special issue hit the newsstands.

Nothing like a celebrity scorned to send shivers down the collective spines of everyone connected with the irked idol. (Gibson, Willis, Schwarzenegger, and Costner were among those omitted from the list.) It's the poor publicists who are held unfairly responsible for the outcomes of these silly rankings, which the media can't seem to get enough of. (Most powerful, most talented, most likely to save your drowning kitten...)

The dreaded call from the star begins something like this: "Box-office king for three years and I'm not in the top 50? Why do I pay you? You're supposed to know these $%#&% writers. Why am I not on that list?"

I've witnessed a few of these one-sided conversations, which typically end with the publicist profusely apologizing and promising to make sure the client tops another such poll coming up, inevitably, next month.

"I know the editor of Total Entertainment Today. I gave his script to Jerry Bruckheimer. I'll make sure he repays the favor by placing you in the top five of the "Greatest film comeback lines after being struck in the groin" special issue. With photos. C'mon...didn't I keep that pic of you and Paris Hilton out of People last year? Who loves you? Who takes care of you?"

In some cases, publicists actually do influence these "power" ratings, which are obviously publicity and sales gimmicks. Or, a title might boost a star's ranking to increase its access. I'm just guessing here, but I doubt that the editors of Premiere truly believe Tom Cruise is the third biggest movie star ever. Ever? Ahead of Newman, Wayne, Bogart, Stewart, and Gable? Perhaps they're trying to flatter the actor or his publicist (in this case, his sister) to ensure continued access to arguably the most popular star today. Fifty years from now, it's doubtful you'll find Cruise's name on any top-10 list. Reminds me of a music magazine's "poll" of all-time greats from the late 1970s that placed the Bee Gees ahead of the Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Who.

GQ lists its own 10 top actors of our generation this month and Cruise is not mentioned. Maybe he didn't want to participate, or perhaps the GQ editors are banking on Depp, DiCaprio, and Cage ruling the new Hollywood roost.

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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