Although Watkins handles everything from wedding parties to Oscar bookings, her specialty is press junkets. Thanks to her efforts, Los Angeles’ top praiseries have made the Four Seasons the go-to venue when it comes to keeping talent happy amid the gantlet of interviews. Watkins was hired as the hotel’s events director in 1986, while the Four Seasons was still being constructed. “We had no idea the hotel was built for press junkets,” she jokes, noting that the suite-heavy design made it ideal when converting bedrooms to accommodate camera crews and roundtables. Watkins insists she doesn’t get starstruck, but beams like a proud parent at the mention of publicists she counts as friends. “The best part of my job is watching them start as an intern and then grow up into an executive vice president,” she says, citing Paramount’s Michael Agulnek, Sony’s Jason Geffen and the Weinstein Co.’s Pantea Ghaderi.
The Four Seasons handles more than 80% of the local junket trade, which means Watkins often juggles multiple events at once — though she draws the line at three, for sanity’s sake. As she explains, “You touch every area of a hotel when you do a press junket,” from moving furniture to preparing special meals for the talent (who tend to be more picky than the buffet-grazing journos).
She studied French at the Sorbonne, and expected to teach for a living until she fell in love with a man in the hotel business. The couple ran a bed and breakfast in East Burke, Vt., after which, they headed West.
“My job is my hobby,” says Watkins, who makes it a point to come in on Saturdays if there’s a junket happening. For years, she was too busy to accept the screening invitations for pics being promoted at her hotel, though she’s recently started going — and tweeting her thoughts from @LadyCWatkins.
NAME: Carol Watkins
TITLE: Director of entertainment sales
FUNCTION: Most of her day is spent with studio business, coordinating a year-round junket schedule with her Rolodex of publicity pros.
DOMAIN: Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
YEARS ON THE JOB: 26 (anniversary June 2)
NUMBER OF PRESS DAYS & JUNKETS BOOKED: 2,420
NUMBER OF SUITES: 106 (out of 286 guest rooms)
NUMBER OF UNUSED VACATION DAYS: 35