THE PUBLICIST: Ford drawn to PR since he can't attract film fans as he once did

During their careers, it's not unusual for movie stars to treat publicity like it's a day-old pastry in the office kitchen. Sneer at it in the morning, but later on, when the hunger pangs strike, come back and gobble it up. The newest entry in the publicity-snack sweepstakes is none other then Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford.

During their careers, it's not unusual for movie stars to treat publicity like it's a day-old pastry in the office kitchen. Sneer at it in the morning, but later on, when the hunger pangs strike, come back and gobble it up. The newest entry in the publicity-snack sweepstakes is none other then Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford.

During his heyday in the '80s and '90s, Ford was probably the business' most bankable box-office draw. A "can't miss." The actor made no pretense in those fat times of his disdain for publicity and promotion, and was a very reluctant, if not absent, participant in the traditional Hollywood marketing blitz that precedes a major film release. Things like print interviews, Tonight Show appearances, Entertainment Weekly photo covers, junkets, smiles, and small talk at the requisite premiere. With his enormous popularity, Ford could skip most of those tedious chores, and rely on his grin and good humor to pack 'em in at the theaters. But times have changed. Ford is no longer a young buck, and today's youthful action heroes are cut from a louder, bigger, brawnier cloth. Vin Diesel, The Rock, Eric Bana...not exactly the thinking man's hero Ford was. Regrettable, yes, but that's a reflection of our louder, bigger, brawnier culture. Super-size that, sir? Oh, hell, yes. The television, the SUV, the beverage, the fries. More, bigger, more... With his drawing power no longer what it once was, Ford must now do two things he didn't have to do when he was flying the Millennium Falcon or chasing the Ark - pair with a younger, "hip" actor, and do publicity. That second one must sting. For his upcoming film Hollywood Homicide, in which he stars with Josh Hartnett, Ford has been pulling out all the PR stops. He's even agreed to host a prime-time retro of his movies on USA Network, and is accepting a special honor from the Stuntman's Association on the televised World Stunt Awards. Sure, Ford is known to do more stunt work than your typical matinee idol, but he's no Jackie Chan. I bet he feels the same way, and his appearance on the show proves the importance he places on making sure Homicide is a hit. Old lions don't like giving up their place at the head of the jungle food chain, and there's nothing like making a fresh kill at the box-office to keep the young pack off your heels a bit longer. Wonder what other veteran stars might be catching a whiff of that day-old pastry in the kitchen.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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