The red-carpet photo op isn’t just for celebs anymore.
Increasingly, everyone from associate producers to midlevel studio execs, agents and managers are smiling for the cameras. The goal: registering a presence in the vast array of after-event photos that get posted online the next day at websites like WireImage, Getty Images and Berliner.
“I call it the Disney effect, because these people are out to brand themselves like Walt,” says veteran photographer Patrick McMullan, who, along with the other shutterbugs who contribute to his eponymous photo agency, covers industry events on both coasts. “It used to be just Hollywood industry people, but now New Yorkers are doing it, too.”
Photo agencies with online sites have become party and premiere report cards. The morning after almost any event, ambitious execs skim these sites to tally up the happenings and determine their place in the Hollywood social hierarchy.
“I want to know if there was some opening or a party that I didn’t get invited to,” says one film studio junior exec who trolls WireImage.com almost every morning. “Even if I didn’t get invited, at least I know about it and I don’t look clueless if it comes up.”
For those looking to make their presence visible at premieres and awards ceremonies, it can be a humbling negotiation to get flashbulbs a-poppin’. One photog says he was offered $20 by an agent to ensure that his mug landed online. Another recalls being bullied by a publicist who insisted that her client, an entertainment lawyer, was “a major mover and shaker.”
Clearly, being visible counts these days.
“The idea that agents aren’t supposed to be as important as their clients doesn’t always apply anymore,” says Alex Berliner of Berliner Photography, an L.A. outlet that’s been covering events for some 34 years.
Likewise Hollywood’s power brokers. They may not be as recognizable as, say, “American Idol” finalists, but within certain circles, they inspire as much awe — and command attention on the red carpet.
On Portfolio.com, the Web site of Conde Nast’s new business glossy, it’s folks like Brad Grey — not Brad Pitt — who get attention. A section called “Spottings” features red-carpet shots of CEOs and media titans glad-handing famous actors and musicians. Recent postings included Robert Evans giving Sumner Redstone a peck on the cheek, Bob Iger with his arm around Orlando Bloom and Dick Parsons mugging with rocker John Mayer.
“It’s an interesting juxtaposition to see a CEO with a celebrity,” says Portfolio.com managing editor Chris Jones. “And nowadays, the lines between business and culture and finance are blurry. You don’t have to be an actor to be famous.”
Indeed, a quick search on Getty Images finds Grey in some 634 pictures, while Iger and Amy Pascal are posted in about 300 shots each. Jerry Bruckheimer has about 900 photos on the site.
But you can always tell the ones who have the power from those looking to get it.
“The really successful ones know that they have to do it,” says one publicist who has marshaled begrudging studio heads past paparazzi. “It’s the up-and-comers who are always jumping in the shot with a big smile.”