Saturday, November 20, 2010

Death by PR

I was just surfing for my daily bit of news and found out that a Hollywood publicist had been shot and killed on Monday Night/Early Tuesday Morning.

My jaw is still hanging on the desk because to be perfectly honest, this news scares the shit out of me.  It's my goal to get into the Ad/PR business, so if they're getting shot, I want to know why.

Who would want to shoot a publicist?  Think about it, PR people are pretty innocuous folks for the most part.  You don't see a PR person get fame and fortune like a movie star would because they're the ones behind the scenes that make it all happen and PR people are also the ones who make sure that stars get noticed.  Without PR people we wouldn't have half of the stars we have today.

So who would want to shoot someone that makes people look good without taking anything for themselves besides a little bit of a commission on how well the film or project goes?  I mean, without PR people in Hollywood, stars would constantly risk saying the wrong thing, even to the point of some of them blatantly demonstrating their complete lack of common sense, but, mix in a PR person and they sound like a Nobel laureate.  You know how I always say, "Make your words kind, gentle and tasteful, for one day, you may be forced to eat them?"  Well, a good PR person does that for their clients.  They take not-so-great moments and turn them into opportunities.  They take the gaffs that come out of their client's mouths and turn them into marvelous, witty quotes we repeat for decades.  That is what is being in PR.

Here's PR in action: One woman I know, Mandy, used to work for the Chippendales.  That's right, those buff studs who take off their clothes night after night for screaming female audiences.  Mandy, not the beefcake boys, wrote the dancer's bios that you see in the souvenir program.  I remember her saying, "Oh yes, I was really going to get something worth printing out of their mouths...[laughs]...'yeah, I'm Rodrigo and I like to work out and tan,' yeah that will put the girls in the seats, NOT.  So what do you do?  You write it for them.  Instead of Rodrigo being at the gym and tanning, no, the program reads that he likes moonlit walks by the ocean, giving women flowers and cuddling next to a roaring fire.  That way the girls don't see what a dipshit he is and how he could care less about romance..."  I kid you not.  That's PR in action.  Now when girls look at 'Rodrigo' and see his bio in the program, they think of a fantasy guy, not some self-centered, muscle-bound meathead.

Without Mandy's bit of PR there, you know how many fans the Chippendales would have?  Not as many as they do.  Women go to those shows for the fantasy, a hot guy who melts their butter and makes them forget about the asshole they have at home watching football, farting and belching, and who's idea of romance is to let her be on top every once in a while.  Instead of her burping hubby on the couch, women who see the Chippendales get the illusion of romance.  It works and it sells tickets to the shows.  Trust me when I say, you don't get into Ad/PR without understanding that you're being paid to create an image for people that they'll respond to and slap down their money to buy that particular product or service.

So, back to the PR lady shot dead in her Mercedes on the way back from a film premiere.  What could she have possibly done to deserve that?  Every single article that I've seen regarding Ronnie Chasen says that she was a top-notch person who everyone loved.  For chrissakes, six competing studios are all chipping in together to joint-host a memorial service in her honor.  OK, if you don't have the respect of your peers and competitors, you don't get memorial services thrown for you like that.

But it still hits me pretty hard.  That woman, who spent her life making everyone else look good, got shot in the chest five times on her way home from work on a quiet street in Beverly Hills.  I'm going to be sticking to the news story like mad.  I want to know why someone would want to kill her.

My eyes are wide watching the story as it unfolds.

For more details, check out the LA TimesVariety and the Huffington Post.

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