Magazine article Variety

Box-Office Boosters Buoy the Business

Magazine article Variety

Box-Office Boosters Buoy the Business

Article excerpt

Hollywood's union publicists have their moment in the sun two days before the Oscars at the 54th annual Intl. Cinematographers Guild Publicists Awards luncheon Feb. 24 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The Publicists Guild, which has about 400 active members and 600 more on inactive status, became part of the ICG in 2002. Though its members spend much of their professional lives seeking publicity for their clients, they themselves remain relatively anonymous outside the confines of the entertainment industry.

But the awards show offers well-deserved recognition to the teams behind the top film and TV campaigns along with the group's top trophy, the Les Mason award.

Three of the nominees - Barbara Hannegan and Maureen O'Malley of Warner Bros. Pictures Intl., and William Hendley of Walt Disney Studios - are studio publicists. Ernie Malik is a unit publicist. And Rosalind Jarrett Sepulveda with the Screen Actors Guild awards is an agency publicist.

Those are the three groups that comprise the Publicists Guild membership, with studio publicists at about 170 members, followed by 145 members for agency publicists, and about 65 unit publicists.

Members interviewed by Variety say that it's tough work that demands a willingness to adjust on the fly.

"The key duties of an agency publicist is to craft a client's image in the best way possible that enhances his or her career," says Jennifer Allen of Viewpoint. "This means coming up with a workable, yet flexible plan, executing it and refining it as the client's career progresses. It demands a working knowledge and personal relationships with key media, decision-makers, key studio, network and production executives, all of whom are necessary to make the plan succeed."

Viewpoint clients include Matt Damon, Dwayne Johnson, Kristen Stewart, Lily Tomlin, Zac Efron, Kate Mara, Kevin Bacon, and Jesse Eisenberg.

"The most important part of the job is being honest, both with the client, as well as the media and those involved with a particular project," she says. "Not all things are possible, or even desirable at all times. Having the foresight and ability to select and generate correctly is key. The role of a publicist in the general sense hasn't changed; it's everything around it that is constantly evolving and it's our job to not only remain relevant but to progress with the changing times accordingly."

Malik, who is up for the Les Mason Award after four decades in the job, is finding that working as a unit publicist is more of a challenge than ever because of the explosion of social media.

"The spokes in the wheel have multiplied one-thousand-fold" he says. …

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