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.”
Reading between the lines, I can’t help but suspect that representing Oksana Grigorieva must have been tough – the story is wall to wall in America and there are any number of people getting in on the act, trying to make a fast buck out of the tabloid feeding frenzy.
Given that the internet is a remorseless story pump (imagine the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico before BP capped it, but replace the oil with a heady brew of gossip, scandal and press releases), any publicist dealing with a story as big as this one is likely to be on it 24 hours a day. That’s not a situation in which one can be strategic, as the constant flurry of rumour, counter-rumour and media theorizing would mean that everything has to be dealt with now, this second, without a moment to plan.
For a publicist, working in a situation like this is akin to throwing one’s career into a spin drier – there is no control to be had, especially when both the leading players seem to be dead set on making each other’s lives extremely difficult which, by extension, makes the lives of those working with them extremely difficult too. A good publicist doesn’t dish the dirt on their client, not even an ex-client whom they parted with acrimoniously.
Not that one is ever likely to find out precisely what is going on behind the scenes – there’s more than enough bullshit flying around to obscure that nicely. Better that a good story gets out, anyway – the truth in these instances is usually pretty dull.
There is also little money in this game. Very few tabloid figures can afford to remunerate for the sort of 24/7 council and strategic advice that the Mel/Oksana situation demands. Characters who allow their lives to be defined by opinion and the lust of the crowd will undoubtedly be terrible clients. It usually takes about 48 hours to come to that realisation.
And, most importantly, a sensible 60-year-old cherishes his life over and above high emotional spin cycle. Whisper it, who needs a toxic client. There is no glamour. There is only the horror.