Studio scrambles to tubthump the WWII film

NEW YORK — With “Letters from Iwo Jima” in kudos contention, Warners decided to make Clint’s day in Gotham.

Eastwood made the media rounds Monday as the studio went into a full-court press for the Japanese-language World War II pic.

Helmer taped appearances for “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Charlie Rose” and also sat for “Larry King Live.”

Event follows interviews Eastwood and topliner Ken Wantabe gave to print reporters Sunday.

Ever since Warners did an about-face and decided to make a push for “Letters” a little less than a month ago, studio has had to scramble to tubthump the pic.

It quickly put together a special screening and cocktail party Sunday night at the Time Warner Center in Gotham in lieu of an actual premiere. (An industry screening in L.A. later this week wouldn’t include Eastwood, a spokesman said, because there wasn’t enough notice to schedule him for that night. Exec producer Steven Spielberg was skedded to attend)

But it was too late to book a hotel and invite media to a separate press day in Gotham. So interviews were essentially piggybacked on a “We Are Marshall” junket already scheduled for the weekend, with reporters conducting interviews with Eastwood and Watanabe.

“Letters” has been getting awards buzz with the National Board of Review and L.A. Film Critics Circle, which both named the movie best picture.

Warners also must work with a mostly unknown cast, making the Eastwood appearances that much more important — but also giving the studio hope that Clint’s previous tendency for a December surprise, like the late-building buzz for “Million Dollar Baby,” will repeat itself.

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