It’s not unusual for studio headsto gush undue praise on executive appointments. But the case of Joe Hyams appears to be different.
Warner Bros. chairman Robert Daly doesn’t call him the “dean” of publicity and advertising lightly. In fact, it is Daly who says Hyams’ recognition is long overdue.
The 32-year veteran of the Burbank studio was promoted yesterday to executive vice president of special projects.
While the heady title may sound much like other appointments, with Hyams it’s almost medal material.
Hyams has been around the department forever and is still loved by his colleagues, or so they say.
He has shepherded projects of talents such as Stanley Kubrick, Francois Truffaut, David Puttnam, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford and John Wayne. Not just in the U.S.–he also traveled with the road shows worldwide.
Before joining WB in 1960 as national advertising and publicity director, Hyams worked in publicity for 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures as well as several indies, including Hecht-Hill-Lancaster and Batjac Prods.
He became a VP of publicity at WB in 1970 and was promoted to senior VP 17 years later.
“To me he is the dean of what he does,” said Daly. “He has essentially had the title of special projects for a while, but this is the recognition for the outstanding job he has done for this company for such a long time.
“Joe definitely marches to his own drum, but he’s also a terrific company man. When he’s into a movie, he’s working with the filmmakers all the way through. He doesn’t just work it domestically but foreign … all the way through. He did it with Oliver (Stone) on ‘JFK’ and he’s been doing it with Clint (Eastwood) on ‘Unforgiven.’ ”
In the words of his immediate supervisor, Rob Friedman, president of worldwide theatrical advertising and publicity, “Joe is a lone gun. He’s always out front with a film, seeing it through all aspects of not just publicity, but marketing. The department is basically his support staff.”
Hyams may work for Friedman, but it’s Friedman who calls Hyams a “mentor and friend” of 22 years.
But a modest Hyams seemed a bit uncomfortable with the praise.
He says he’s more “on the fringe” than the typical studio publicity exec, and sees himself as more of a liaison between the studio and talent.
“I think maybe I should be singing their praise,” he said. “Warner Bros. has been very good to me for a very long, long time.”