Publicists adapt to Internet age

Praisers step into 'brave new scary world'

In a media landscape that’s changing at hyperspeed, the nominees for this year’s Les Mason Award — given to a publicist for his or her outstanding achievements — are among the industry’s few stable elements. Each of the nominees — Tony Angellotti, Andre Caraco, Jan Craft, Rosalind Jarrett and Pat Kingsley, most of whom are 20-year or more veterans — has adapted to every seismic shift with intelligence, determination and persistent ingenuity.

Angellotti, whose Angellotti Co. has helped guide the campaigns for a slew of Oscar-nominated films including this year’s “Frost/Nixon” and “Wall-E,” is the first to acknowledge that it’s a “brave new scary world” out there. Never mind the fact that there was no Internet when he started in the biz, he says, “There were no computers!”

As a former journalist, Angellotti is especially irked by the lack of fact-checking in the blogosphere and the speed with which misinformation travels. “It’s bad news that goes round the world in record time, not the good stuff,” he says. “It’s always been that way, going back to famous divorces.”

Still, his job is to manage the information. “You have to be mindful of the domino effect that information creates,” he notes. “You’re still dealing with it, whether it’s a small blog or the New York Times.”

Kingsley, personal publicist to some of the biggest box office stars on the planet, is less charitable to the upstarts who try to slander her clients. “I rue the bloggers,” she says, calling them “a black eye to respectable journalism.”

Kingsley founded publicity firm PMK in 1980 and says the demise of newspapers and magazines and the rise of the Internet has been one of the hardest shifts to witness. She observes, “I think the older you are the more you think it’s changed in a less attractive way, but the younger you are the more excited you are about the new technology.”

This year Kingsley’s contract was bought out by PMK/HBH, although she’ll continue to work with Al Pacino and Will Smith from an office near her home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. “I didn’t want to be involved in the corporate structure anymore,” she explains, adding that she plans to get her hands dirty working with Jimmy Carter’s Habitat for Humanity — although “at my age I’m not gonna be going out and building houses.”

Working the web

Screen Actors Guild Awards publicist Jarrett is one who falls into the camp that’s excited about the wired world. In fact, nearly a decade ago Jarrett helped bring awards show credentialing into the 21st century. She recalls, “I thought, instead of people submitting their credentials in triplicate and dealing with all this paper, let’s see if we can use the Internet.” She joined forces with Jerry Mark, whose company, EventCredentials, was working to develop that very software. Now it’s an industry standard.

Jarrett also is quite fluent in online social networking, casually dropping references to Twittering about the recent awards show, downloading YouTube videos from SAG auctions and posting news on fansites about who will be presenting awards. In the past, she says, “We didn’t have that way to reach our viewers other than on-air promotions or advertising.”

Add to that the changing needs of most media organizations, almost all of which now have broadcast, online and print components, and require assets for all three. Jarrett laughs, “Get a lot of rest and do a lot of endurance sports and you can keep up!”

Not only does each outlet have multiple departments, there are more outlets than ever before. For Sony’s exec VP of motion picture publicity Caraco, the key is breaking through this “fragmented” landscape. “This is not 1988 where you call ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and get your trailer launched on the broadcast,” he says. “We as publicists really need to be creative about how we get our message out there because we don’t have the ability to have a controlled message in the way an advertising spot is.”

To that end, an upcoming “Angels & Demons” press junket in Geneva will see members of the science and religion press mingling with traditional entertainment journalists in the hopes of starting a “significant and interesting dialogue about the movie,” Caraco says. Similarly, in advance of “Quantum of Solace,” Sony invited 15 bloggers to London to have a James Bond experience that included going to a race track and driving an Aston Martin. “It’s just finding ways to make ourselves stick out in the crowd,” Caraco emphasizes.

Even when a film flops, as “Speed Racer” did, the campaign behind it may have been innovative. Warner Bros. director of publicity Craft says she’s proud of the work her team did on that film, which included a stunt with MTV where the network sped up its programming, and viewers raced to their computers to enter a contest to win a race car. Craft adds, “Things have changed as far as the technology and what outlets you’re pitching, but at the core you’re still crafting a pitch; you’re looking for what’s going to catch the consciousness of the consumer, and that’s what I’ve always found interesting and fun about what I do.”


What: 46th ICG Publicists Awards

When: Today, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where: Beverly Hilton Hotel

Who: ICG prexy Steven Poster, Acad prexy Sid Ganis, Bill Maher, Taraji P. Henson, and show host E!’s Joel McHale

Website: cameraguild.com


Press Award

Anthony Breznican, USA Today

Elizabeth Guider, The Hollywood Reporter

Mary Hart, “Entertainment Tonight”

Scott Mantz, “Access Hollywood”

Claudia Puig, USA Today

International Media Award

Claude Budin-Juteau, France

Margaret Gardiner, South Africa

Anke Hofmann, Germany

Elaine Lipworth, U.K.

Lynn Tso, Taiwan

Excellence in Unit Still Photography

Andrew Cooper

Melinda Sue Gordon

Stephen Vaughn

Barry Wetcher

Michael Yarish

Les Mason Award

Tony Angellotti, The Angellotti Co.

Andre Caraco, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Jan Craft, Warner Bros.

Rosalind Jarrett, SAG Awards

Pat Kingsley

Maxwell Weinberg Publicist Showmanship Award


“90210,” CBS Paramount

“Gossip Girl,” Warner Bros. TV

“The Mentalist,” Warner Bros. TV/CBS

Motion Picture

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” Walt Disney

“The Dark Knight,” Warner Bros.

“Hancock,” Columbia

“Iron Man,” Paramount

“Mamma Mia!,” Universal

“Marley and Me,” 20th Century Fox


Motion Picture Showmanship Award

Producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall

Television Showmanship Award

Producer Chuck Lorre

Lifetime Achievement Award

Variety Editor-in-Chief Peter Bart

Special Award of Merit

Associated Press Hollywood correspondent Bob Thomas