THE PUBLICIST: No matter the stage, Arnold knows how to steal the show

There's no business like show business.

There's no business like show business.

Even if you're in politics. No one knows that better than Governor Schwarzenegger (R-CA), whose media mastery relies more on a big entrance and grand exit than the moments in between. I was allowed to tag along with his advance team at a recent event in LA to see firsthand how well they control the message and access. With his appearance two hours away, the advancers spoke with security, reviewed the press list, and did a walk-through of the scripted stage arrival. Thirty minutes beforehand, they explained ground rules to the media and accompanied photographers to the front of the stages. Broadcast and print press had to remain in the back of the huge hall. Two journalists mildly complained that there was to be no Q&A afterwards. "There was obviously greater access and fewer security restrictions involved with Arnold's appearances before he became governor," says a publicist who has worked with him for several years on an LA fundraising event for underprivileged youth. "Now there are much tighter controls over credentialing, photographer positions, and interviews. I've always made all the PR decisions for this event in the past - and Arnold just showed up. Now his team makes all the calls." The governor works with an A/V company that stages his political appearances as if they were rock concerts. Just before his arrival, the doors opened to a mad rush of 5,000 attendees who stormed the arena as if the red light had just gone on at Krispy Kreme. Lights dimmed, he came thundering through the hall on a motorcycle, raced up a ramp and onto the stage. The crowd roared - just as Arnold entered stage right. "I want to thank you for changing the Constitution to allow me to run for President of the United States... oh, wrong speech," he began. The fans ate it up. Arnold's team has done a masterful job of dressing up the boss' PR image since he took office. Which makes it somewhat ironic that Arnold himself may throw kindling on the embers of his chauvinist reputation through an upcoming movie appearance in Around the World in 80 Days. In it he plays a womanizing sheik, a role filmed last summer. Sure, he's only acting. Exactly what, some claim, he's been doing as governor. The difference is, Arnold is willing to play second banana to Jackie Chan on a film screen, but not to George Bush on the political stage. Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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