‘Heather and Paul’ are in the best possible PR hands, but who will emerge triumphant from this public tussle of reputations?
So we have a gripping new reality soap opera to watch, made more compelling because the leading players are both A-list celebrities, and not belly-wriggling invertebrates sweating their arses off on a South Pacific island.
Yes, the very public trial by tabloid of Heather Mills and Sir Paul McCartney has ratcheted up a notch or three and got us gibbering like baboons.
The tabloids will not take sides; they want the best stories so they can sit back and allow the public to watch the blood flow.
A third of the populace has experienced divorce and had to cope with financial settlements, so “Heather and Paul” have become a brand of reality soap opera.
Their very public tussle of reputations has the rare ability to satisfy the avarice of circulation hungry editors.
The reason it has taken on a new aspect, like Kate Moss a year before, is because Heather Mills has employed a stalwart hack turned media strategist to claw back her dignity and improve her present public image.
Step forward Phil Hall, the ex-editor of both the News of the World and Hello!, and once hired to help Max Clifford in his Mayfair HQ. Astute, clever and sharp, this well-connected man brought in to spin for Heather Mills promises compelling times ahead.
It wasn’t that long ago that Mills was in a definition of hell, but after a mighty proactive media blitz Hall has heroically endeavoured to disinfect her soiled past with some success.
We have seen the mounting of a counterpunching media relations campaign, much needed to dilute the ugly headlines that have dogged the former Lady M.
Sir Paul’s affairs had been ably managed by the Outside Organisation, but he and his PR minders now face a formidable test.
Coughing up our cereal over the salacious tales of Mills’ past splashed across the front page of the Sun in June, we thought her reputation was sunk.
But the lady was not for burning. She had to be proactive and chose to fight fire with fire.
Since Hall arrived on the scene we have seen images of Heather dumped with a blank, helpless face, all alone and living in a “barn”.
Outside was forced to respond: the music legend, we learned, had frozen his and Heather’s joint bank account once he realised that she had withdrawn “gross” amounts of cash after their split.
The next tabloid twist to the story earlier this week revealed that Heather had turned up at the couple’s former home in London, only to find the locks had been changed.
And, yesterday, it emerged she had hired Diana’s divorce lawyer, Anthony Julius, of Mishcon de Reya. One day she’s in a Porche, the next she is sheltering in a Mondeo. How quickly her fortunes turn.
I love this PR “Rumble in the Jungle”; like Ali and Frazier the two sides wind up haymakers, slugging punch for punch in a ring of their own making.
As the months unfold, it will be interesting to see which camp can win the battle for hearts and minds.
The game plan will be to compress the most words into the smallest of soundbites.
Both parties are in the best possible PR hands – individuals with guile and brawn, and who can take huge risks on behalf of their clients, because they have stupendous experience.