Posts Tagged ‘publicist’

Alex Hall: Unfortunate, Out of Her Depth and Beyond Salvation

The performance of Alex Hall, Jeremy Clarkson’s now-infamous-once-gagged ex, on ‘That Sunday Night Show’ last week was a classic example of the dark underbelly of the kiss and tell process. Your publicist finds an op, you do it no matter what, and you end making a quick facial omelette. It’s like Faust’s pact with the devil except even more boring to watch as it’s acted out.

Hall was somehow savaged by a panel which contained, amongst others, professionally ineffectual wall hanging Louis Spence and Chiles himself, the world’s least threatening man. Even worse: she has achieved the exact opposite of her presumed aim. Following her constant, whining ubiquity over the past few days, the only sane response is to actually feel sorry for Clarkson. She’s unlikely to make the money she wants, but even if she does, it’ll be pretty tainted now.

Rumour has it that Hall has fired Clifford following the debacle. It’s fascinating to me that this is the conclusion people have drawn: much more likely he’s quietly given her the shove. He sat next to her, blandly besuited like a court-appointed attorney in a police drama, ashen faced as she shot herself in the foot time after time. An attempted gag in which she turned the initials used to refer to her case under the injunction (a.m.m vs h.x.w) into a faux-provocative acronym fell flatter than Spence’s washboard abs. ‘Adulterous Motor Mouth vs. Hurt Ex Wife’, if you’re interested. Cue slow clap.

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Arch West: The Final Chip off a Very Old Block?

It’s a great story for anyone who’s obsessed by the showmanship of selling:  Arch West, the great Frito-Lay marketing exec and inventor of Doritos, has been covered with his beloved chips in his final resting place. West came from a long line of great retail mavericks who had the fire and the guts to tap into the popular consciousness and then harness it instantly and recklessly, with scarcely a thought for the opinions of shareholders and other boring considerations. I know my banging on about the golden age of showmanship is something you see a lot on this blog, but I’m increasingly worried that we’re not going to see his like again.Tortilla Chips

What is it with snack moguls? First Fredrich Baur, retail genius and inventor of the iconic ‘Pringles’ can, had his ashes buried in one of his beloved crisp receptacles back in 2008, and now this fantastic news item from West, presumably a sight that roughly resembled Doritos’ stoner student target customer after a big night in. The real genius of the retail surpremo is represented by these almost mythic funerals: these were guys who truly lived the brand, who integrated their lives and their behaviour into what they were communicating. There is something unimaginably inspirational about these two men, who know who to grab column inches even from beyond the grave.

Their heritage is rich. When Gordon Selfridge came to London, he made a fortune out of the women’s lib movement by promoting luxury shopping as a lifestyle choice, a statement of freedom: he was unafraid to be a huge character and to consciously attract huge characters. He encouraged women to look at his freedom, to look at that of his wife, and to demand this for themselves via the medium of their wallets.

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Elizabeth Taylor: A Star Blinks Out

One of the last goddesses from the pantheon of great Hollywood stars has died. Let’s give thanks for the life of true movie icon Elizabeth Taylor.

As a fledgling publicist I met her retinue at a film shoot at a long forgotten theatre, axed by funding cuts in another age. The encounter left an indelible mark on my psyche. Not then versed in the ways of celebrity, and unable to comprehend its hierarchy and protocol, I was transfixed by the legend that was Elizabeth Taylor, and the encounter with this uber-sleb ignited an innate curiosity in the ways of Hollywood

That day, Taylor arrived to shoot the movie she was filming in a yellow Rolls Royce. I’m fairly convinced it was the car from the movie of the same name. The stage had been set. Various members of the papparazzi had been tipped off, a curious crowd gathered, waiting for her entrance – delayed, naturally, as Taylor’s make up was touched up in the car by two handmaidens.

She exited the car regally, looking more beautiful than any other mortal. She had journeyed from Olympus and her radiance lit the drab Autumnal gloom of London’s grimy East End.

The moment she stepped into the real world, a flurry of court helpers surrounded her in a circle. The symmetry was perfect, the aura hypnotic. Any questions thrown her way were fielded and analyzed by a series of filters, before the closest aide whispered a definition in her perfect ear. They moved in strange, bureaucratic ballet, a protective guard shielding Taylor from the sins of the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Churnalism and the Death of the Press Release

At long last the question of how much of our daily news originates from PR pixies is to be answered. A new website,, has been launched and its mission is to expose the extent to which articles have been lifted from press releases.

I welcome the site – it’s not something good publicists should fear. In the spirit of transparency, I’m very comfortable to declare that on occasions I’ve let my imagination run riot. Once – or maybe even twice! – I have ensured that a dismal fact has not stood in the way of making a story work. Then, in an age when there were more journalists than PR, it was tough generating ink.
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Looking to the Future of PR

The recent story in the papers about Geoff Baker, the former gatekeeper for Sir Paul McCartney who now dresses as a dustman to give tours of his home-town, should act as a salutary lesson for all entertainment publicists.

I first met Geoff at the height of his journalistic powers, as a showbiz reporter for the Star. This was well before the modern British publicity industry started to emulate Hollywood in the late 20th century, taking control of every aspect of their client and shutting out the media if they wouldn’t play ball; before the idea that stars were brands really set in.

Geoff’s big legacy as a journalist is the Princess Margaret awards, now called the Shaftas (shame the title is so crude). In the days when the geriatric Royal PR spin machine shut up shop at 5pm and the old duffers wouldn’t dignify anything with an answer out of working hours, Geoff announced – at five past five – that Princess Margaret was to make a guest appearance on Crossroads. The story was beautifully absurd. Absurd enough to have everyone gleefully report it long before the Palace could step in and correct the story, allowing it to become one of those ‘true at the time’ stories. Out of this came the Princess Margaret awards, celebrating the liberties taken by showbiz journalists. Read the rest of this entry »

Dishing the Dirt at Peachy Coochie

Anyone wanting to know a little more about the dark practices of Hollywood in the early days of the 20th century should come along to Peachy Coochie at the Toynbee Hall at 7.30 p.m. this Thursday, October 28th, where I will be revealing more about Maynard Nottage, one of the publicists featured in The Fame Formula.

I will be outing some of Nottage’s darker and more dubious practices, some of which didn’t appear in the book, and illustrating who it affected and how. It will take in ambitious actresses, pornography from the Roaring 20′s, carnival freaks, forgotten Hollywood B listers and even a water-skiing lion.

For anyone who doesn’t know what Peachy Coochie is, it’s a night of lectures, each of which take just over six minutes. Each lecture comes with 20 slides and the speaker discusses each slide for 20 seconds. A Peachy Coochie night will inject information right into your brain so painlessly that you don’t even realise you’ve learned something. Read the rest of this entry »

Kanye Fix It?

There has been a lot of debate about the relevance of PR council to the stars since the Twitter revolution. Stephen Fry, Ashton Kutcher and Ross Brydon all do a pretty good job of managing to reach out to their fans. With these examples, and others, in mind, stars like Kanye West may wonder why they need to spend money on a PR when they have the DIY tools at their fingertips. But Kanye is proof positive that some slebs need sound and serious PR advice before they attempt to engage their fans over the net.

West has been letting rip on Twitter with unrelenting detail about himself. He has picked a fight with a journalist from the LA Times music blog who had the temerity to accidentally miss out a word from the title of his album but the incident that generated the most ire was his use of a robot to pump out 300 tweets in a few minutes containing lyrics and some nasty invective.
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The Publicity Spin Drier

The Mel Gibson/Oksana Grigorieva row that has been consuming America whole for the last few weeks has taken a new turn, according to the TMZ website, with Oksana’s publicist Steve Jaffe leaving for pastures somewhat less argumentative.

The big question racing round the media and the net is: did Jaffe walk or was he pushed? But in an age when the big news organizations are repositioning themselves as verifiers of the news, given the predominance of the blogosphere and the Twitterati as breakers of the news, it’s never going to be as cut and dried as that.

According to RadarOnline, and quoted in the Mail, Jaffe has stated: “The case was so all encompassing in terms of my time and the strict orders by the judge. I have other clients in serious crises who require my time.” Read the rest of this entry »

How to Save Public Figures from Sex Scandals and Themselves

The collapse of Lord Triesman – and potentially the British 2018 World Cup bid he was in charge of – after a fit of sexual hubris and some seriously careless talk about bribery, brought on by the less-than-sincere attentions of a younger woman, is a sorry story, but a familiar one.

This is a story that highlights the lack of investment in PR at the highest level. There’s an awful lot of bollocks talked about stories that are ‘so important’ that you can do trades with the papers on them, with shadowy publicists portrayed as Fagin types hand-rubbing and smirking in the background. This is mostly absurd – an exercise in scapegoat making.

A good publicist is counsellor and conscience – a Hollywood hybrid of shrink and media hound – and should protect their client. They have always been looking to the long game rather than the easy buck; the reinvention of the client to keep them in the limelight for years rather than to just take a cut from one hefty payment and then move on. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sleb’s Prayer

Our publicist which art in Chinawhite
shallowed be our names.
Thy quick-fix come,
thy stunts be run
in Heat as they are on Popbitch.
Give us this day our daily big-ups
and forgive us our coke deals
as we forgive those who report our coke deals to the press.
Lead us not into the Priory
and deliver us from journalists
for thine is the Twitter, the spin-cycle and the story
for fifteen months and forever.


Adam Horovitz

Written after hearing that a chain of hotels frequented by celebrities, which are to be featured in a reality show, have asked to use The Fame Formula as a replacement for the Gideon’s Bible – something for the down-at-heel Z Lister to turn to for inspiration.