You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Where’s my jet?

Luring celebs to Vegas is a logistical challenge

Now that ShoWest is post-Oscar, when all is said and done, this year’s show may end up getting a lot more press bang for its buck.

Sure, there have been fewer celebs at the four-day event than when the studios pulled out all the stops in the cash-flush 1990s. But the entertainment press, like nature, abhors a vacuum. So any and all news coming out of Vegas in late March may have Mary Hart, the glossy showbiz mags and even a few sober dailies gobbling up the ShoWest doings like a Marine on leave at a steak dinner.

For the TV entertainment tabloids in particular, footage and stories from the week’s events probably will be rehashed for a number of news cycles.

“It’ll be hard to quantify, but I think we’re going to get more attention than in past years,” says Wayne Lewellen, theatrical distrib topper at Paramount Pictures.

Where Universal Studios shone at ShoWest 2003 with its big Wednesday night banquet, this year it has been Paramount’s turn. The studio has high hopes for a big slate this coming spring, summer and beyond, including “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” “The Manchurian Candidate” and “The Stepford Wives.”

Popular on Variety

Marshaling the resources to get Meryl Streep, Jim Carrey, Denzel Washington, Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Bette Midler and three dozen other stars onto the two-tiered dais Wednesday night was a pretty impressive PR feat. In addition to the fact that ShoWest banquets are a one-off phenomenon that aren’t broadcast live or tape-delayed (simply a photo-op event), getting the agendas of a dozen or so top actors, directors and writers in sync for one night is a major challenge. Not to mention the entourages of agents, managers, publicists and masseuses.

“An absolute logistical nightmare,” says Lewellen, with a laugh. Very expensive. And very complicated.

Finding enough corporate jets to fly everyone from all over the country (and create gridlock on the tarmac at McCarran Airport) is one thing. Negotiating the often-choppy waters between the studio marketing and PR departments on the one hand, and the ubiquitous and powerful publicists of A-listers on the other, is something else entirely. It’s the green-room, red-carpet world of a movie premiere times 20.

“In the show business world of the 12 big ‘asks,’ getting a star to any ShoWest event is a big one,” says a major studio flack. “In other words, it’s not automatic that they’re going to say yes like they would to presenting an Oscar or Emmy.”

But, as difficult as the events are to put together, they remain, most execs agree, simply a cost of doing business.

“Just like the old days, we need to remind exhibitors that (the studios) are still in the star business and still in the big, big movie business,” says a studio topper.

As retro as the banquets may seem, they can change the economic prospects of a film dramatically. When Paramount was in early production on “Forrest Gump” in 1994, for example, no one at the studio was quite sure how the film was going to play and had penciled in a conservative rollout for the Tom Hanks vehicle.

But when a six-minute trailer of the pic had exhibs at ShoWest on their feet, the studio had the greenlight to switch to an aggressive marketing mode. The film opened wide with huge promotional support and went on to gross $674 million worldwide.

More Legit

  • Mrs. Doubtfire BroadwayCon panel

    Listen: 'Mrs. Doubtfire' the Musical, Live From BroadwayCon

    In the Broadway-bound musical version of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” actor Rob McClure has the unenviable job of following in the footsteps of comedy great Robin Williams, who memorably played the title role in the 1993 film on which the stage show is based. Listen to this week’s podcast below: How does McClure hope to fill those [...]

  • Grand Horizons review

    'Grand Horizons': Theater Review

    Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one, as you surely must have: A nice, all-American family is in the process of breaking up and trying to make this sad state of affairs seem funny in Bess Wohl’s Broadway outing “Grand Horizons.” After 50 years of marriage, Nancy (the ever-elegant Jane Alexander) and Bill (the [...]

  • Uncle Vanya review

    'Uncle Vanya': Theater Review

    Director Ian Rickson has had success with Chekhov in the past. His exquisitely balanced, tragicomic production of “The Seagull” (2007 in London, 2008 on Broadway) was well-nigh flawless with, among others, Kristin Scott Thomas as painfully vulnerable as she was startlingly funny. Sadly, with his production of “Uncle Vanya,” despite felicities in the casting, lightning [...]

  • The Welkin review

    'The Welkin': Theater Review

    A life hanging perilously in the balance of charged-up, polarized opinions: This courtroom drama could easily have been titled “Twelve Angry Women.” But playwright Lucy Kirkwood (“Chimerica,” “The Children”) is far too strong and imaginative a writer for so hand-me-down a cliché. Instead she opts for “The Welkin,” an old English term for the vault [...]

  • Tina Fey attends the "Mean Girls"

    Tina Fey Announces Movie Adaptation of Broadway's 'Mean Girls' Musical

    It’s good to be mean…the “Mean Girls” musical, that is. Producers of the hit Broadway show announced today that the Tony-nominated production is being adapted for the big screen for Paramount Pictures. The musical is based on the 2004 movie of the same name. “I’m very excited to bring ‘Mean Girls’ back to the big screen,’ Tina Fey, [...]

  • Freestyle Love Supreme

    Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda and 'Freestyle Love Supreme' in Exclusive Clip From Sundance Documentary

    Before turning “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” into musical phenomenons, Lin-Manuel Miranda could have been found on stage, spouting off-the-cuff rhymes with his improv group, “Freestyle Love Supreme.” After performing across the globe, the troupe — founded 15 years ago by Miranda, his frequent collaborator Thomas Kail and emcee Anthony Veneziale — made its Broadway [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content