LOS ANGELES: Normally, this space highlights the week's best efforts made by publicity hounds to distinguish their news bits from the rest of the pack. But as any PR aficionado knows, sometimes the greatest achievement lies in keeping information out of the media's hungry grasp.
This week, we recognize the art-house divisions of Hollywood's major studios, which met last week to discuss their parent companies' ban on awards-season screeners. Shockingly, no one let a single word slip about what was said. Not a "no comment," not a "sources said," not even a leak as to what the unlikely confab ate while they contemplated their next move. Excellent PR work, especially considering the personalities in the meeting included more than a half-dozen outspoken industry heavyweights like Miramax's Harvey Weinstein, and entourages of publicity and marketing teams.
The ban on screeners - copies of awards-contender films sent out to Oscar voters and journalists - has been widely covered by the media. While major studios and the MPAA have billed it as anti-piracy measure, Hollywood's independent-film community saw it as a blow to their small-budget films' chances of winning Oscars.
Days after MPAA head Jack Valenti announced the decree from above, reps from Sony Pictures Classics, Focus Features, United Artists, Miramax, Fine Line Features, and Paramount Classics met in person or by teleconference to discuss their options. Along with sharing ideas, the meeting allowed participants to send a very loud message of dissent to their corporate parents. Though that missive was surely received, it did not rise to the level of a punishable offense because the media blackout kept the revolt an internal matter rather than the business-page scandal that it could have become with bad media relations.
So no matter who takes home the most Oscars, Hollywood's art-houses, for proving they know how to craft corporate campaigns as well as entertainment ones, are awarded PR Play of the Week.