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Posts Tagged ‘TMZ’

Weinstein, Toy Company Recall Django Unchained Slave Action Figures

"Django Unchained" action figures Here’s a controversy that isn’t quite as blatant and ridiculous as the one surrounding Anthropologie‘s super-racist candlestick but still serves as an interesting case study in badly planned promotional campaigns.

The National Entertainment Collectibles Assocation (NECA), a company that makes toy lines based on film properties, recently decided to pull a line of action figures based on Quentin Tarantino‘s current spaghetti western/slave revolt blockbuster Django Unchained. Why? Because most of the black characters are slaves–and some of the white ones are slave masters. This didn’t sit so well with some.

We haven’t seen the movie and we don’t want to get into the debate over the film’s very liberal use of “the n-word”, but we are a little baffled by the very concept of toy lines from a Tarantino film (though we wouldn’t mind having a little 7-inch version of Tim Roth’s Reservoir Dogs character on our desk).

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Elmo Resigns After Second Accuser Files Suit

Kevin Clash with ElmoSeems like we just can’t quite keep up with the ongoing PR crisis surrounding puppeteer Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo. After a man accused Clash of having an “improper relationship” with him when he was 16, recanted and settled, then tried to re-file his claim, today brings news of a second man looking to take Clash to court.

According to TMZ, an unnamed accuser in his 30′s filed a lawsuit against Clash today. He claims that the two met on a gay phone chat line when he was 15 and Clash was 32–and that they maintained an ongoing relationship.

And now for the predictably gory details: This latest accuser claims that, although the relationship began nearly 20 years ago, he did not take legal action until now because he “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012″. The lawsuit even veers into character assassination, citing Clash’s “depraved sexual interests” and claiming that he used his status as an entertainer to “[prey] on teenage boys.”

Oh, and this guy’s legal team learned something from the first settlement: their filing included a demand for “more than $5 million.”

We wish we had no more to report on this unfortunate story. Even if the latest case ends with a settlement or a dismissal of all charges, the legal saga will continue to be a major headache for the Sesame Street brand.

UPDATE: Sesame Workshop just released a statement announcing that Kevin Clash has resigned from Sesame Street in the wake of these newest allegations, citing the puppeteer’s conclusion that “he can no longer be effective in his job”. A sad day for the whole team.

PR and Porn Part 2: The Insider

In yesterday’s first chapter of our week-long series “PR and Porn,” we introduced you to Brian Gross: PR pro, agency founder and one of the top publicists currently working in the adult entertainment industry.

Today Brian goes into greater detail about how the industry runs—and points us toward one of his most unique and successful clients.

You may have wondered how the adult film industry looks from the inside. When asked who wields the real power in the business, Brian says:

“It’s definitely the producers—the heads of companies like Adam and Eve, publishers like Larry Flynt at Hustler, etc. You have leaders like John Stagliano of Evil Angel, who almost went to prison for defending his first amendment rights as an artist. Then you have female entrepreneurs like Allison Vivas of Pink Visual who has made her name in the mobile world as well as the production world (Ed. Allison has quite an interesting bio).”

“As a publicist, you find very passionate people in every industry and you cling to them, because you’re excited by their energy and what they’ve accomplished.”

Many of these power brokers, however, have watched in horror over the past few years as the Internet dramatically changed their business model. What began as a huge new revenue stream quickly turned into a nightmare due to an explosion of torrenting and streaming sites. As Brian says, many producers have “had to figure out how to monetize in different ways”, just like the music industry did in the days of Napster.

Copyright infringement is a tough challenge to fight, but Brian notes that “Plenty of people are still doing quite well. The strength of brand and content and marketing prowess is what will make the difference between successful and struggling companies.”

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PR Diva Death Match: Mariah Carey vs. Nicki Minaj

Today in TV Karaoke Competition News: The hottest gossip in the world of tee-vee at the moment appears to involve a battle of egos between new American Idol judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj (with a little BabaWa thrown in for good measure).

Excited yet? The “exclusive” TMZ video of the two arguing during Idol auditions resembles the beginning of history’s most tedious catfight. We can’t really understand any of it, but we get the general impression that Nicki is a little intimidated by Mariah’s seniority and that Ms. Carey is playing this year’s J.Lo by steadfastly refusing to be upstaged by anyone.

One thing is clear: Barbara Walters raised the stakes on Thursday’s episode of The View by repeating Mariah’s claim that Nicki threatened to “shoot the — b*tch” while walking offstage. Minaj then got a bit defensive (and slightly insane) on Twitter, mocking Carey for hiring more bodyguards while the show’s publicists loudly claimed that no one had made anything resembling a death threat.

Is this what passes for excitement in Seacrest-world? We’re already bored, but we guess we need to ask what the show’s producers and third-party stars think about all this deadly-serious drama.

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Is Prince Harry’s Strip Poker Scandal Really So Bad?

OK, so the web has been abuzz with news of Britain’s wild child, the fiery ginger Prince Harry, and his recent all-nude Vegas review. We agree that it looks pretty bad (and yes, we just linked to TMZ. Now we feel like taking a long, hot shower).

But is this incident really a big PR problem for the royal family? The British public seems to turn to them for entertainment in tough times, and the royals occasionally make concerted efforts to showcase their sillier side. So certain, uh, slip-ups might actually make them more relatable, especially in the land that invented tabloids and reality TV. Despite their history, the Brits do sometimes manage to keep it classy: their mags have refrained from publishing the nude photos themselves at the request of the royal family’s PR team. Color us surprised.

But this is really just another day in the life of the crown. Our trivia-minded friends at Mental Floss remind us that the royals have seen far worse: Read more

Showing Up Is Only Part of the News Media Battle

The decision about which news stories media outlets cover live has been front and center in the wake of Monday’s press conference with one of Herman Cain’s accusers, Sharon Bialek, and her lawyer, Gloria Allred. So naturally it was the first topic of discussion for a panel of news editors, reporters and marketers from The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and CNN.

They spoke at PRWeek’s NeXT conference in New York on Tuesday, where they also debated the merits of being first to break news and the challenge of adapting to a more news savvy but overloaded audience.

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Unlike Everyone Else, WH Has Only a Few Words To Say About Weiner

While both Democrats and Republicans are called for Rep. Anthony Weiner to vacate his Congressional seat, the White House is saying little about Weinergate.

USA Today reports that a House ethics committee has already begun deliberating the issue with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) saying he’d like to dump Weiner from his committee assignments.

However, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One, “The president is focused on his job,” without commenting at all on whether Weiner should stay or go, simply calling the pictures “a distraction” and “inappropriate.”  Although Time.com reports that the President did tell Today’s Ann Curry, “I would resign.” In a tweet from The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza (who has written a post here), he says that the single line “seems to me to seal the deal.”

Separately, we reported last week that Spirit Air was leveraging the scandal for its marketing purposes. These days, the airline isn’t the only brand using Anthony Weiner’s Twitter escapades for their own advantage.

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Rep. Giffords Photos Released to Stave Off Paparazzi

Photo: P.K. Weis/southwestphotobank.com for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords via Facebook

Photographs of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was critically injured during a mass shooting in her home state in January, were posted on her Facebook page yesterday in an effort to keep the paparazzi at bay, said a spokesperson for the Congresswoman.

That spokesperson, C. J. Karamargin, told The New York Times, that there was word of a “bounty” for photos of Giffords as she leaves inpatient rehabilitation this month. Karamargin said he heard TMZ had offered $250,000 for photos, a claim that the gossip site’s founder Harvey Levin denies.

Last week it was reported that despite the unbelievable progress Giffords has made over the past months, her ability to communicate is still greatly impaired.

We wish her all the best for a continued recovery.

A New Model for Celebrity PR

“She’s in your face and sure of herself, and she has no filter.”

This, from a profile in Thursday’s New York Times, is a description of ID PR founder and CEO Kelly Bush — who’s also referred to as an “Internet fixer,” “grizzly bear” and “tough customer,” among other (complimentary) things.

The piece explains that instead of serving as their clients’ gatekeepers, Bush and her team tackle the “Web-driven, 24-hour media culture” — that is, celebrity PR in the TMZ era — head-on: addressing controversy (and creating it, at times), playing “Internet fixer,” even managing actors’ careers. (Bush handles publicity for and manages clients including Ellen Page and Paul Reubens.)

Efforts such as these, the article contends, are changing entertainment publicity as we know it.

What do you think? Anyone else helping to shake up the business?

Oksana Grigorieva asks Judge to Make Mel Pay for PR

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Mel Gibson’s ex-girlfriend wants him to pay her PR bills, Fox reports TMZ sources saying. She allegedly spent $84,000 in PR and legal fees to “thwart public perception that she sold secret tapes,” the story says, claiming she felt she was “getting trashed in the media.”

TMZ sources say Grigorieva felt hiring PR reps was the only way [to] counter someone as big and powerful as Mel Gibson.

The story goes on to say Grigorieva wants the custody/child support case judge to clear the debt, catch being, it points out, that the judge wouldn’t award money for PR expenses, but rather would only switch up the agreement (5,000 a month and the house) based on their baby Lucia’s needs.

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