Publicists Fight to Keep Stars In Line Online

April 19, 2011  |  

(New York Times) — CELEBRITY publicists these days should demand hazard pay.  The rapper Chris Brown and his publicist parted ways on March 22, the same day Mr. Brown shattered the window of a dressing room during a violent tirade at “Good Morning America,” photos of which were quickly posted online.  Eight days earlier, Gilbert Gottfried lost his job as the voice of the Aflac duck after a series of tsunami jokes on Twitter that his publicist now wishes the comic had run by him. And Charlie Sheen’s longtime publicist walked out in late February after the actor held forth in a series of multiplatform stream-of-consciousness rants that kept Americans agog for days.  Remember when a publicist was called a “press agent”? Now, to quote the legendary Hollywood publicist Pat Kingsley, “suppress agent” might be a better term. In the new era of social media, any celebrity with a half-baked idea and a laptop — or any fan with a cellphone camera — can quickly undo years of careful image crafting. And many publicists (and their studio overlords) demand that clients refrain not only from talking to reporters, but also from posting anything on personal sites or blogs that could jeopardize their projects.

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