NEW YORK: Entertainment PR pros are increasingly circumventing Hollywood obstacles by taking on the role of reality TV producer or manager to get exposure for their clients
"We have the ideas, we help them flesh those out, and then we have the connections and the contacts," said Desiree Gruber, president of Full Picture. "It's hard to get heard in Hollywood, and it's hard to get an agent at one of the big agencies to pay attention to you."
Gruber recently helped create the TV show Project Runway for client Heidi Klum and was credited as an executive producer.
"I think that being on the front lines, you have a lot of different connections and contacts for your clients," she explained. "And if [we] have the creative ideas, why wouldn't we take it forward for them?"
Phil Viardo of LA-based The Viardo Agency, which handles PR, management, and production, agreed. He acts as both PR person and manager for reality TV clients, including The Surreal Life's Adrianne Curry , whom he is currently helping to negotiate a spokeswoman deal with a major national sports franchise.
"This whole trend has been my platform from day one," he said. "It's been working successfully for me."
Viardo said that one of the advantages is that he can often waive clients' fees and do the PR for free if he is receiving payment in another role.
"If I have a different revenue stream from a client, I usually offset monthly retainer fees," he said.
For Gruber, helping to develop TV shows hasn't been limited to Klum. She is also shopping around a show involving fitness expert David Kirsch, while Viardo is also assisting client Chris Knight, best known as Peter from The Brady Bunch.