Category Archives: PR

Lewis Hamilton, the stud and the PR…

Lewis Hamilton, studless, in 2016 (Photograph: Mario via Wikipedia)

I get sundry PR releases sent to me.

I normally don’t use them, but this one I copy and paste below in its entirety without comment…

…though I would draw your attention to the regulations in Rugby League…


MERCEDES FINED £21.9k FOR NOT DECLARING LEWIS HAMILTON’S NOSE STUD

Though his choice to wear the stud in Singapore triggered a visit to the stewards, Lewis Hamilton told them doctors had advised him to leave the stud in, rather than continue to take it in and out, on medical grounds. FIA Deputy Medical Delegate Dr Ian Roberts looked at the medical report and concurred with the opinion. As a result, the stewards decided to take no further action.

The situation left us wondering what rules other sports have enforced regarding jewellery. Experts at UK retailer Steven Stone have done some research and revealed everything you need to know!

I’ve pasted some key points below, however you can read the full story here.

  • Lewis was summoned by stewards at the Singapore Grand Prix for wearing his nose stud, but provided a medical report stating that he’d been advised to leave the stud in
  • The FIA have confirmed that deputy medical delegate, Dr Ian Roberts, reviewed and concurred with Hamilton’s medical records, but Mercedes had failed to declare it, which resulted in a fine of £21,900
  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the strictest regarding jewellery
  • In Rugby League, referees inspect players’ equipment before the start of the game
  • With no rules in place Emma Raducanu recently took to the Wimbledon court kitted out in £30,000 worth of Tiffany jewellery

Football (Soccer)

Jewellery is a total no go in football, with the FA not allowing players to wear anything that is dangerous. All items of jewellery (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather bands, rubber bands, etc.) are forbidden and must be removed, with players inspected before the start of matches.

Basketball

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is incredibly strict and their rules don’t end with prohibiting jewellery – in the past four decades, they’ve also banned du-rags, personalised Band-Aids, and headbands. They also became the first major professional sports league to impose a dress code for players when they’re arriving at and leaving matches or sitting on the bench.

Rugby League

In Rugby League, the regulations state that a player cannot wear anything that might prove dangerous to other players. Referees inspect players’ equipment before the start of the game (or delegate this duty to the Touch Judges) to ensure that players aren’t wearing anything of an offending nature – such as rings, rigid shoulder pads or dangerous studs.

Rugby Union

The regulations of rugby union do not allow players to wear jewellery, gloves, shorts with padding sewn into them, or any item contaminated by blood.

Tennis

Whilst Wimbledon has a strict all-white rule for players, it doesn’t seem to have anything in place regarding jewellery – something that female players take particular advantage of. Just last week, Emma Raducanu took to the centre court kitted out in £30,000 worth of Tiffany jewellery.

Baseball

Instead of fully prohibiting jewellery, Major League Baseball just request that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game. Similar to that in American Football, this has caused controversy, with the most infamous story taking place over a decade ago, when the glare from Seattle Mariners reliever Arthur Rhodes’ earrings threw off the Cleveland Indians hitter Omar Vizquel and resulted in a bench-clearing brawl.

American Football

Though the National Football League (NFL) restrict “hard objects”, they don’t enforce a jewellery ban. Though this has caused controversy in the past and there are a wealth of stories that suggest a ban may be a good idea – for example, Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib once snatched a gold chain off Oakland Raiders’ Michael Crabtree’s neck during a terse exchange.

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An Edinburgh Fringe show: PR Mark Borkowski on meeting “bonkers people”

The last time Mark Borkowski – legendary UK PR guru and master of the publicity stunt – appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe as a performer was 15 years ago with his Sons of Barnum show. This year, he’s back for five days (17th-21st August at Assembly, George Square) with an autobiographical show: False Teeth in a Pork Pie: How to Unleash Your Inner Crazy.

So I talked to him via Zoom at his home in Gloucestershire.


JOHN: What is the “inner crazy”?

MARK: It’s about not suppressing the idea that something is a totally loopy thing to do. We are told now there are so many rules you can’t break that we don’t even start looking at really disruptive thoughts which might change our lives.

JOHN: Why are you crazily taking another show to Edinburgh?

MARK: It’s 40 years of the Assembly and it was really important to me. Back then, it was about building a network. I slept on a journalist’s floor – Nigel Reynolds. And it was because everybody went to the Fringe. Every arts journalist of any repute went there and I saw the importance of making a network. That’s what my show this year is about, really. It has lessons for people to think about serendipity and adventure.

We don’t talk enough about how important it is to connect. Everything is promoted through technology now. Zoom. WhatsApp.

In this show I felt I could remind people about the importance of the physical moment of bumping into somebody in Edinburgh and making a relationship.

I will NEVER have a bad word to say about Edinburgh because Edinburgh is different. We are all this inner chimp inside of us: the caveman. We are all fired-up by feeding, fucking and fighting that Steve Peters, in The Chimp Paradox, wrote about. We’ve gotta make the effort.

So I thought Forty years! It would be an interesting point to juxtapose 40 years ago when I publicised and produced a show and lost a lot of money and saw failure… and learning from all that failure.

JOHN: So it’s good to fail at the Edinburgh Fringe?

MARK: Learning from failure in Edinburgh is a fantastic lesson. You learn about money; you learn about what’s good and bad; you see other things that are good; you learn from other people; and it’s a massive classroom. If you allow it to be. Reminding people about the elemental power of Edinburgh is partly why I wanted to go again.

I’ve been stuck, because of Covid, not enjoying culture for two years. So I wanna get that huge fix again. I want to be reminded that there are lunatics in Edinburgh. There are crazy people doing stuff – and I don’t mean the over-promoted stuff. The big arena/massive venue stuff is not the real Edinburgh Fringe.

JOHN: What is?

MARK: Some sweaty, horrible place that probably doesn’t quite pass fire or safety regulations but you’ll probably see something bonkers there. The act might not become Michael McIntyre or find its way onto Britain’s Got Talent – well, maybe it will as a freak – but it’s something to remind ourselves and re-plug-in.

In many ways, I see this as an experiment. My last show 15 years ago – Sons of Barnum – was an experiment to see if I had a book, maybe inspired by you a bit. And this time I want to see if there’s room for an autobiography of lunatics or ‘disruptors’ I’ve met.

If people buy into that, then maybe I will set about writing a book about it as well.

Let’s see if a younger audience – and it WILL be a younger audience in Edinburgh this year – will they buy into my mantra. If they do buy into my mantra, then there’s a hope I can do more. I am using Edinburgh as an experiment and that is what the Fringe used to be about.

JOHN: Surely An Autobiography About a Bunch of Showbiz Lunatics must be a commercial book?

MARK: Well, you have to strike the right balance. Publishers want the juicy stuff and I wouldn’t ever give away stuff that was entrusted to me. There would be stuff they would want me to focus on that I’m not interested in talking about.

JOHN: You can’t libel dead people.

MARK: Yeah, but their families are still there and, if their families don’t know the stories, what right have I got to tell the story of someone who didn’t want it to be told? There’s responsibility in memory which you have as a professional. You were paid; you had a trusted relationship. Some people I fell out with, but that’s no reason to do anything. If you seek revenge, prepare to dig two graves.

JOHN: You could write a real tell-all book that’s only published after your death. You’ll be dead and all the relevant people will be dead.

MARK: But your motivation when you’re alive should remain when you’re in your grave.

JOHN: When you are running a successful PR company, presumably to make money you have to have boring clients despite the fact your passion is to have mad clients.

MARK: It’s a balance. I always had and always will have an ear open to somebody with a mad idea.

JOHN: Have you ever actually turned down a client because they were going to be too boring? 

MARK: Oh, loads. In the early days, I did turn down half a million quid. I just felt it would dry me up. 

JOHN: It says here you’re “the last of the old school publicists”. How are the new publicists different?

MARK: Influencers. Influencer relations. It’s more using tech. Young people just won’t pick up the phone.

  • “Well, I texted him”…
  • “Well, pick up the fucking phone and talk to them!” 

People THINK they want to be a publicist, want to be a storyteller… but they just don’t pick up the phone! 

JOHN: Surely they can FaceTime rather than pick up the audio phone?

MARK: Same difference. I’m talking about the fact they would rather deal with an issue in a 3-line text. That is bizarre to me.

The other day, a tech journalist said to me that he could never get to meet people but finally he met this PR person for coffee and, afterwards, she called him up and said:

“I really enjoyed that. Can I ask a favour?… Would you say you met two of my friends?… Our boss is pushing us to go out all the time to meet people. We don’t really want to do that. So, if you could just say you ‘met’ them, my boss will be off their backs.”

I thought how terribly sad that was. To have a metric, a box ticked. I’m not anti-tech, but I just think we’re losing something.

I’m sick and tired of people who rely on everything from apps. To be guided around a city, to date, to shag. They probably even use WhatsApp to get their drugs.

I think there is something important about the connection of meeting people.

JOHN: We are talking on Zoom. You are in the West Country; I am in London. Does this count as meeting me?

MARK: Yes and no. It’s the best thing we can do until we get back to the idea of me coming back to London five days a week… No, it’s not the same… But, if you can’t have a ten minute conversation about an issue, hearing the tone of voice and so on, what’s the point? What do you KNOW about that person from a text?

JOHN: PR is just advertising face-to-face…?

MARK: There was a horrible time in the 2000s where ad agencies did see PR as an extension of advertising.

JOHN: Isn’t it?

MARK: It’s a communication practice to be sure, but… PR is a many-headed hydra. You cut one off and there’s another one that grows on in a different way. PR is a subtler craft of using influencers and social media and building content and a network.

JOHN: What’s the point of paying for PR at the Edinburgh Fringe? Acts can do it themselves.

MARK: Well some people go up and have a punt and they’re not very professional. They don’t understand the story or how to run a stunt, so it just becomes a bit of a noise.

JOHN: Your show False Teeth in a Pork Pie is only on for five days…

MARK: A five-day experiment.

JOHN: And after that?

MARK: I genuinely don’t know. I’m following my own mantra: Just see what happens. If it works, maybe I’ll travel it around, come to London with it. There’s a smattering of names in it. The Marlon Brando moment with Tony Kaye… My madness in Swindon… How I escaped being arrested… Stuff about Charles Hawtrey when I had to look after him… and just the joy of bonkers people, really.

They think differently; they look at things differently. I would never have met them if I hadn’t started my venture partly in Edinburgh and trusted in getting lost.

Serendipity is that event or that person you just bump into. That’s the joy of the Edinburgh Fringe.

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Dan Harary (Part 2): Seinfeld, sex and party night at the Playboy Mansion…

In yesterday’s blog, I chatted to US publicity guru Dan Harary, who is publishing four books between now and next Spring.

Last month saw the publication of Flirting With Fame: : A Hollywood Publicist Recalls 50 Years of Celebrity Close Encounters

…Dan with Steven Spielberg, Amber Smith, Ann-Margret, Dr Ruth and Jack Black…

The chat continues here…


“I was 24, no car, no money, no proper job, no connections…”

JOHN: You were allegedly Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘very first fan’ in 1981…

DAN: That is absolutely true. In 1981, I had been in LA for about six months. I was 24, no car, no money, no proper job, no connections. I was a gofer for a video company, which meant I had to run for sandwiches and coffee, clean people’s offices and my biggest job was to get my bosses’ cars washed: Jaguars, Mercedes, BMWs… They were all millionaires; I was penniless.

One day I went to the car wash. There were only two people there: me and Jerry Seinfeld. I had seen him the year before, in 1980, in Manhattan and he had been so remarkably funny. 

So, at the car wash, I turn and say: “Jerry Seinfeld?”

“Yeah?”

“My name is Dan. I’m your biggest fan.”

He goes: “Gee. I didn’t know I had any fans.”

We shook hands and I said: “I saw you in New York last year. What are you doing now?”

“Well, tonight I am gonna make my debut on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”

And that night…

JOHN: …he became a star.

DAN: …he became a star. Yeah. But the funny part of that story, really, is the second half… 

I said: “You and I are about the same age; we both came here from the East Coast; but I don’t have any friends here. Could you and I be friends?”

And he looked at me like this… (ODDLY)… and he says: “Weeell, I don’t give out my phone number, but here’s my business manager’s card”… He gave me the card. Nothing happened…

So, cut to 12 years later… 1993.

Jerry Seinfeld and Dan Harary in 1993…

I’m at a TV Convention in San Francisco. Seinfeld, the TV show, was now very, very popular. Sony Pictures were selling Seinfeld into syndication. 

I’m walking through this TV Convention. Jerry’s there. 

I went up to him and said: “Jerry…”

“Yes?”

“My name is Dan.”

We shook hands again.

I said: “I met you in 1981 at the Sunset Car Wash. It was the day you made your debut on The Tonight Show.

He looked at me and said: “I remember you. You wanted to be my friend.”

He pulls his hand out from my hand. He turns and he walks away.

As we’d first met in West Hollywood, he probably thought I was gay. Who knows.

“…women I’ve loved, lost or chased…”

JOHN: But you’re not gay. Your second book Carrots: A Sex Odyssey is coming out this September and it is…

DAN: …the history of women I’ve loved, lost or chased or never had the courage to love at all and there’s quite a few of them.

JOHN: In the blurb, it mentions you had a 20-year long sex addiction “later in life”. What took you so long?

DAN: I was very shy when I was young, even though I had the long hair and I played the drums and I worked with Bruce Springsteen and KISS and Fleetwood Mac – I did lighting and stage work at The Sunshine Inn. I was a straight-A student in school but, with women, with girls, I was very very shy. 

I was with my wife from the age of 25 to 36. We had two kids. When I got divorced at 36…  I was no longer shy…

From 36 to 56 I became a sex addict. I went wild for quite a while but now I’m glad that period of my life is behind me. 

JOHN: You worked at the Playboy Channel for three years and Playboy Channel events were held in Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion West.

Hugh Hefner and Dan Harary at the Playboy Mansion in 1984

DAN: Most of the times I was there was for events during the day. I think I met Hefner three times; he was very nice. I did go to a few parties there at night. I wasn’t there when people were making love in the pool. I didn’t see naked people, but I saw some interesting things at night. 

The Halloween parties that he had! Celebrities were there and gorgeous 18/19 year-old girls with almost no clothes on. At one of those parties, I had my drink and I’m like the grandfather next to these young girls. They’re like my daughter’s age. 

I’m looking around thinking: For a straight man, this is heaven! There’s a table of shrimp and lobster and steak. And on other table is free alcohol: every possible drink. Garry Shandling and Matt Dillon are there I remember… James Caan. And then the girls! Every girl was drop-dead gorgeous and some were there with their mothers! 

I met this one girl of 19 and her mom was like 40 and they were both equally beautiful.

Dan and Playboy Playmate Kym Malin, 1985

I was single at that time but I was so overwhelmed that, after two hours, I actually said to myself: I have to leave! 

It was too much.

It was just too much.

JOHN: Surely you owed it to yourself to stay?

DAN: I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. First of all, these girls wanted millionaire, movie star boyfriends. I’m not a millionaire and I’m not a movie star.

A lot of women I’ve met in my life want to use me, OK. Can you help me do my PR? I’ve had actress women, models use me. I like pretty girls and they like to torture me! But that one night at the Halloween party I actually had to leave. It was like being a kid in a candy store but you have diabetes.

JOHN: You must have unfulfilled ambitions? You were a drummer in lots of bands…

DAN: When I was a Senior in high school, a friend of mine who was friends with Bruce Springsteen told me: “Dan, Bruce is looking for a new drummer. Why don’t you consider trying out for him?”

Now I did not like his music at that time. I was into The Who, Led Zeppelin, Cream, The Beatles, The Stones. 

Years later, I came to love quite a few of his songs. Independence Day is one of my favourite songs. But, at the time, he wasn’t famous and I had no connection with his music. So I told my friend: “It’s not for me.”

Had I auditioned, you never know… I had a beautiful drum set, I was a very good drummer, I had met Bruce the year before. He would have known who I was. But, you know, I didn’t even drive? I was 16. Bruce was seven years older than me. If we had gone to a bar, I wouldn’t have been able to play. I was 16. Under-age.

That’s the closest I ever got to becoming a famous drummer.

New York’s Last Rock ‘n’ Roll Mecca…

JOHN: Your third book is Inside The Cutting Room: A Backstage Look at New York’s Last Rock ‘n’ Roll Mecca. It’s published in Spring next year and it’s about the music business…

DAN: The backstory is my best friend from childhood – Steve Walter.  We met in 1968. He and I grew up together. We were in bands together. We worked at The Sunshine Inn together. When I was 24, I went to LA; he went to Manhattan.

He owns The Cutting Room club. My lifelong best friend.

He opened The Cutting Room 25 years ago. A lot of very very famous musicians, rock bands have played there over the years.

JOHN: Lady Gaga was discovered there?

DAN: Absolutely correct. March 2006.

In March 2006, there was The Songwriters of New York Talent Showcase and 19-year old Stefani Germanotta played on my friend’s stage along with about a dozen other young performers.

There was a woman in the audience named Wendy Starland who, when she saw Stefani perform, called a record producer friend and said: “I just discovered the next Big Thing.”

Wendy took Stefani to meet this guy who heard her stuff, said, “You’re the new John Lennon. You’re a good songwriter,” signed her up and, the next time she played The Cutting Room that Fall, they introduced her as Lady Gaga.

JOHN: On your personal website, you describe yourself as “an author, entertainment industry publicist, drummer and former stand-up comic”. The domain name is danhararyauthor.com – danhararyAUTHOR not danhararyPR or just danharary… I know you have your business site www.asburypr.com but danhararyAUTHOR.com implies that writing is personally more important than other things?

“…the new Woody Allen. I was gonna write sitcoms…”

DAN: In Eighth Grade, I was writing short stories and my English teacher loved them; she told me I was a talented writer. I came to LA to be a comedy writer for television. I wanted to be the new Woody Allen. I was gonna write sitcoms. I came close with Seinfeld in 1992. I came close but didn’t sell my script. I came close three times; it didn’t happen. Along the way, I fell in love, got married, had kids. 

I’m a good writer. A lot of publicity, as you know, is writing. So my sitcom comedy writing ambitions veered off to PR. And that’s how I made a living for 40 years. It’s just how it happened. I told my mother: “At the age of 66, I’ve now finally fulfilled my dream of being an author.”

JOHN: So now we get to your fourth book… the one about the UFOs…

DAN: Yes…

(… CONTINUED HERE …)

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Dan Harary (Part 1): Flirting with Fame; insulting Schwarzenegger and Streep…

Dan Harary talked to me from Los Angeles at the weekend…

Dan Harary calls himself “an author, entertainment industry publicist, drummer and former stand-up comic”. He started his own company Asbury PR of Beverly Hills in 1996. Now, 26 years successful years later, he is suddenly publishing four – yes four – books. The first was published last month: Flirting With Fame: : A Hollywood Publicist Recalls 50 Years of Celebrity Close Encounters.

Part of the PR pitch for it is:

“Dan quite often found himself in rather bizarre circumstances while interacting with famous people – like having a staring contest with Barbra Streisand, twice; or smoking a joint in silence with Jill Clayburgh in Central Park; or talking with Billy Crystal about Chinese food at Sid Caesar’s funeral; or introducing his mother to Mel Brooks and finding out they both went to the same high school. Dan’s countless ‘close encounters of the celebrity kind’ are sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and quite often cringe-inducing.”

We chatted at the weekend…


Flirting and skirting but never hurting…

JOHN: FOUR books being published between now and next Spring? Why now?

DAN: Flirting With Fame was from Covid. Last Spring, 2021, I looked at the calendar and I was going to turn 65 and realised the very first celebrity I ever met was when I was 15 years old – Richie Havens, who was a famous singer from Woodstock.

During Covid, I was bored and had nothing to do. Wow! It’s been 50 years since I’ve been meeting and working with celebrities! So I took a piece of paper and just wrote down all the hundreds of celebrities I’ve met or worked with and there were so many of them that I thought: I should just write a book.

When I was in high school, I had really long hair, I played the drums and ran lights and stage crew for a little concert hall in Asbury Park – The Sunshine Inn.

Bruce Springsteen played there quite often; he was considered like the house band. Before it was called the E Street Band, he had a band called Steel Mill, one called Doctor Zoom and The Sonic Boom and then he had the Bruce Springsteen Band.

JOHN: You’ve known everybody.

DAN: It’s not that I know them, John. It’s like in the title of my book – Flirting – It’s like I skimmed with hundreds of very very very famous people. Most of my clients are behind-the-scenes people in the entertainment world. I’m FLIRTING with fame. I’m not famous. Only a few of my clients – like Jay Leno – were famous. But, over the course of time, I’ve been in situations surrounded by a lot of famous people.

JOHN: According to your own publicity for the book, you pissed-off some…

DAN: Arnold Schwarzenegger, sure. I was at an event in Beverly Hills in 1996. He wasn’t the Governor of California yet, but he was a big star. The event was for Milton Berle. You remember Milton Berle?

JOHN: Of course. A comedy legend.

Dan with Sid Caesar – semi-retired but still active in 1987…

DAN: I worked with Milton a few times. I represented Sid Caesar for a couple of years.

Anyway, I was at an event in Beverly Hills for Milton Berle. I knew Arnold Schwarzenegger would be there and my 8-year-old son was a huge fan of The Terminator movies. So I took a photo of Arnold as The Terminator and a white marking pen.

During a break in the festivities, Arnold is at a table with two giant bodyguards and I just tapped him on the shoulder: “Hello. My name is Dan. My son is 8 years old. He loves The Terminator. Would you be kind enough to give a quick autograph?” I have the photo and the pen in my hand.

He looks at me and he goes (CONTORTS FACE) “GHHHRRRRRRR!!!!!”

I say: “Arnold, please. He’s 8 years old.”

“GHHHRRRRRRR!!!!!”

I swear to God. Steam virtually shooting out of his bright red… like he wanted me to burn in a fire…

“GHHHRRRRRRR!!!!!”

Arnold Schwarzenegger: GHHHRRRRRRR!!!!!

He never said a word to me. 

So now I’m like shaking, right?

His bodyguards are looking at me.

I’m like: Come on, Arnold, you can do it! 

It’ll take five seconds.

Come on, man. Please! Please do it!

“GHHHRRRRRRR!!!!!”

Really, it was a stand-off. And, eventually, he realised I was not going to leave without it… So, after quite a while, he finally grabbed the pen and did it and wrote: TO JORDAN – BEST WISHES.

My son is 34 years old now and he has it framed on his wall in his house in Alaska.

JOHN: The thing that most shocks me is that Arnold Schwarzenegger needed two bodyguards.

DAN: They had little earpieces with little curly wire that came out.

JOHN: Meeting ‘stars’ can be strange…

DAN: I was at a photo shoot with Kevin Costner in 1990… Kevin wasn’t a huge, huge star then, so he was very approachable. He couldn’t have been nicer. This was to promote an Earth Day TV special on ABC. 

A lot of executives from Warner Bros and ABC were there and everyone was saying: “She’s coming! She’s coming!’

I didn’t know who. They didn’t tell me.

“It’s ten minutes till she’ll be here… She’s coming!… Ten minutes!… Five minutes!”

“Who’s coming?” I asked.

They said: “Meryl Streep!”

“Meryl Streep?” I said. “Meryl Streep is coming?”

Carla holding her Oscar for Sophie’s Choice…

She was very famous, of course, and, at the time, was just a few years out from her Sophie’s Choice Oscar. This is MERYL STREEP, you know?

So Meryl Streep’s coming! Oh my God! Oh my God!

I wasn’t a particular fan of hers. I don’t think she’s particularly… I was never a fan of hers ever, but everyone was scurrying around: “Meryl’s coming! Meryl’s coming!”

So I got caught up in it.

The doors open. It’s bright sunshine outside. She enters. She’s all in white. She’s like an angel from Heaven. It’s like Mother Mary has descended and we’re like the peasants in Guatemala or wherever. She comes in and there’s like 20 people in a line. ABC people. Warner Bros people. I’m at the very end of the line. Next to me is a friend of mine named Carla from Warner Bros.

So Meryl goes along the line like the Queen of England. 

“Miss Streep, it’s such an honour”… “Miss Streep, it’s such an honour…”

I’m caught up in it.

It’s Meryl Streep! It’s Meryl Streep!

She gets to me and I’m at the very end of this long line and, by the time she got to me,  I was so nervous I shook her hand and said: “Hello Carla, so nice to meet you…”

She looked at me like the RCA Victor dog, with her head on one side, thinking: “…What was…? Did he just…?

I didn’t really know what was happening. She walked away and then my friend Carla told me: “Dan, you just called Meryl Streep ‘Carla’” and I said “I did?? Really??”

JOHN: I’m surprised you would be overawed by a star: you did stand-up comedy.

Dan stands-up on stage at Hollywood’s Improv

DAN: I did comedy much later – here in LA – 1998-2001. I only ever made $6 from it in total. Jerry Seinfeld made $6 billion. I made $6. I have it framed. I did it because, when I was in Sixth Grade, I had a teacher who used to make students go to the front of the classroom and give an oral report. She tortured us: 

“Stand up straight!… You’re slouching!… You’re mumbling!… Speak louder!… Speak softer!… Don’t look at your nose!”… All she did was criticise. So I had a fear of public speaking from the age of 12.

And, for a publicist, it’s really not good to have a fear of public speaking.

So I took a class at the Improv in West Hollywood with one of the owners and the graduation of the class was to do 8 minutes on stage at The Improv. Next to my son being born, it was the most nervous I ever was in my life. I almost threw up before I went on stage. My mother was there; all my friends were there. 250 people. I was shaking; nervous; my heart was pounding; I was a nervous wreck. But I went out and did my thing and I survived.

I’m not a natural stage performer. I’m a drummer. I was in bands all my life. Playing in a band? That’s easy. No sweat. But to stand up on stage with a microphone and you’re saying your jokes?… It’s very, very scary.

JOHN: I suppose the drummer is at the back and not the centre of attention.

Dan not quite hiding behind his youthful hair and cymbals…

DAN: I suppose that’s right. I had really long hair and you have cymbals in front of you. When I played, my hair used to fly everywhere. My parents saw me play once and someone said to my mother: “That drummer, she’s really good for a girl…”

JOHN: But you weren’t interested in performing comedy as such? Even though you knew Sid Caesar and Milton Berle…

DAN: I represented Sid Caesar for two years, 1987-1989. He paid a monthly retainer to our PR firm to keep his name in the press. He was sort-of semi-retired but still active; he was in good health still; he did guest starring roles on TV. I got him many interviews: at the time he was re-releasing Your Show of Shows on VHS tapes for the first time.

Also he, Milton Berle and Danny Thomas did a live tour of the US in 1988 and I was the publicist – The Living Legends of Comedy Tour

JOHN: That was when you got to know Milton Berle as well?

DAN: Around the same time. I spent a day with him at a TV station in Hollywood. He had written a book called BS: I Love Youan autobiography – and he was there to promote it.

So I’m at the TV station and there’s a knock on the backstage door and this little old hunched, shaking Jewish man with a hat and a coat and a cane came in.

“Mr Berle?” I said.

“Yes.”

“My name is Dan. I’m here to help you out.”

“OK. Very good.”

I took him to his dressing room. He closes the door very quietly.

Dan with switched-on larger-than-life Milton.

I wait about 10-15 minutes and then the door bursts open. He’s standing perfectly straight. Different clothes. Big cigar… “Hi kid! Here I am! Where do you want me?”

I almost asked him: “What did ya do with Milton Berle?”

The man who went in and the man who came out of the dressing room – Two completely different men. 

JOHN: It wasn’t a joke? He had just suddenly ‘switched-on’ Milton Berle?

DAN: Yeah. He BECAME Milton Berle in that 10-15 minutes in the dressing room.

I led him out onto the stage and everyone was so excited. 

But instead of shaking people’s hands and saying “Hello, how are you?” he goes: “Aaah… I don’t like that camera over there! These lights: these can be moved! I don’t like this set! That chair has to be over here! This spotlight has to be…”… and for the next 45 minutes all he did was re-arrange this entire studio that had been created just for him. Everyone was like: What is he doing? But it’s MILTON BERLE: What can you do? All you can do is obey his commands!

JOHN: What happened at the end when he left the set? Did he return to being the old man?

DAN: He did the interview. He was very funny. At the end, he shook hands and was very nice. I walked him back to his limousine and he remained in character. He has the cigar. He’s smiling. He’s not the man who walked in. Now he’s ‘Milton Berle’.

(… CONTINUED HERE… with Jerry Seinfeld, sex addiction and party night at the Playboy Mansion…)

 

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Filed under Books, Humor, Humour, Music, PR

Jeremy Murphy – US PR’s “snarkiest publicist” is past caring and hates Woke

“…I just don’t care any more. I just don’t…”

If you are offended by four-letter words, read no further. This is your final warning.

New York based PR man Jeremy Murphy has his first book out.

Its title is: F*ck Off, Chloe: Surviving the OMGs! and FMLs! in Your Media Career.

The publicist’s (and publicists’) publicist claims it  is “America’s most offensive book about media, woke-ism and GoogelSharedZoomDrive”… that it “invites the writer’s inevitable cancellation”… and that “its title is almost as offensive as its contents”…

So, obviously, I had to have a transAtlantic video chat with him at the weekend via Zoom.

(Other equally good or better services are available).

Another warning for over-sensitive Americans: the word ‘humor’ is correctly spelled as ‘humour’ throughout what follows…


“Their parents wanted to be their best friends… which is just weird…”

JOHN: Who or what is Chloe?

JEREMY: Chloe is like a stereotype of Generation Z.

It is a unique species. I’m sure (a lot of) Generation Z are very hard workers. But the Chloes in Generation Z have too much self-esteem; they were raised by parents who liked them too much; their parents wanted to be their best friends, which is just weird; and they’ve been raised on Social Media. 

So anything they say has to have Likes, Comments and Shares. They expect this and have grown up on this. So, when they enter the workforce, that’s where their mind is. They think anything they say should get attention. They are very sensitive and want constant validation. And they are WOKE. So woke. They have these ideals.

They want to know your carbon footprint, your stance on Black Lives Matter, your minority makeup… I’m sorry. Look, you’re lucky to have a job. Why don’t you just do the job?

I’m over 40 and I’ve been in media for 20+ years. Once you’ve worked in media that long, you get a little jaded and you see things as they are. The Chloes come in and they want the corner office on Day One. They have such expectations – and I find great humour in that.

JOHN: Your name is Murphy. Presumably you have Irish ancestors?

JEREMY: Yeah! I think one of the grandparents. Definitely the great grandparents.

JOHN: Do you feel the Irish in you somewhere?

JEREMY: Well, I drink a lot!… But, yeah, I mean, the Irish are firebrands. They don’t mince words. They wear their hearts on their sleeves. There is no passive-aggressive. What they feel, they say. But what I love about the Irish is they say it and then it’s over and you go to the pub and have a pint and you’ll laugh and sing.

JOHN: So is this a definition of you too?

JEREMY: I’ve just reached that age where I just don’t care any more. I just don’t. I don’t have time for grudges. I don’t have time for micro-aggressions or passive-aggressive. I’m pretty honest.

I wrote a book. I own my own firm (360bespoke). There’s nothing you can do to me. You can’t fire me. So I’m gonna put it out there. I’m going to say what everybody else is thinking.

“The outcome was pretty much the title”

JOHN: Bigtime movie producer Julia Phillips dished the dirt on Hollywood in her book You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again and the outcome was pretty much what was said in the title. Are you worried?

JEREMY: I don’t care. I checked with my clients and they thought it was hysterical. There’s nothing anyone can do to me. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. It’s real salty and offends everybody, but I’m hoping that, in that, we all laugh… We are so sensitive right now. Everyone’s looking for something to be outraged about.

JOHN: You were only allowed two uses of the word ‘cunt’ in the book, not your original ten.

JEREMY: Well, that word is not so accepted in America. I have a lot of British friends and I know our ‘bitch’ is your ‘cunt’. I have so many British friends who use it like that and I kind of do and the publisher was Errmmmmmm…. So I had ten instances and I had to lose eight of them.

I had to lose a few things, because it was very very salty. I had a chart: MATCH THE TERRORIST GROUP TO THE PR AGENCY. That had to go. Then I had a list of HOW TO IDENTIFY THE OFFICE CUNT. That got nixed. And I had a whole chapter on body shaming and the publisher said: “Jeremy… Someone has to buy this book.”

JOHN: So you can, to an extent, offend cunts but not fat people?

JEREMY: Yeah.

JOHN: The Chloe problem exists in the US AND the UK?

JEREMY: Yes. We are SO similar. But dealing with the UK is a pleasure. People work at the same speed; you always get a response. Try dealing with the French! 

“Do you really want to be quoted?”

JOHN: What’s wrong with the French?

JEREMY: Well, they don’t like to work! 

JOHN: (LAUGHING) Do you really want to be quoted as saying that?

JEREMY: I WILL! I mean, they’re nice people! I mean, in Italy, they don’t even respond. Oh my God! I’m kind of jealous, because they’re not so obsessed with their jobs. What’s the old adage? WE LIVE TO WORK AND THEY WORK TO LIVE.

JOHN: It helps that the English language is…

AMAZON ALEXA: I don’t have an answer for that.

JOHN: Bloody Hell! That’s my Alexa breaking in. She must have been listening all this while. I didn’t even say “Alexa…”

Errmm…

It’s always said the Americans don’t have a sense of irony and the British do.

JEREMY: Oh, yeah, I mean, we DO have a sense of irony. But your sense of humour is so clever and very ironic. You guys can insult us and we don’t realise. We hear a British accent and we’re like: Ooh! It’s so sophisticated! I think it goes back to being a Colony. We hear that accent and, all of a sudden, you’re better.

JOHN: Surely we might also say something jokingly – and ironically – and Americans might take it seriously?

JEREMY: Exactly. It’s so clever. I love British people.

East? West? Jest publicity is the best publicity

JOHN: You have gone into PR mode.

Is there a difference between East Coast and West Coast? I think maybe New York understands irony, possibly because there’s a lot of Jewish humour in there. And the West Coast doesn’t understand irony at all.

JEREMY: Yeah. Not at all! Because everything’s about THEM. I HATE dealing with the West Coast.

JOHN: What’s the difference between the East and West Coasts, then?

JEREMY: IQ level…!

JOHN: (LAUGHS)

JEREMY: I think it’s about speed and urgency and getting shit done. In New York, it’s like rat-a-tat-tat. Now-now-now-now-now. We take care of business. There’s no bullshit.

In LA, it’s a little more relationship-based. Hey! Let’s do lunch! and I love you, babe! and You’re the real stars!… I don’t want to say it’s superficial, because Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world and they produce a lot of amazing stuff. 

But the cultures are totally different.

JOHN: Is that because of the weather? You were saying the Italians are more laid-back than the British and the Californians are more laid-back than New York… Compared to Italy and the Mediterranean countries, the weather is shit in Britain… and the weather in New York is not quite as good as it is on the West Coast, so New Yorkers concentrate more.

JEREMY: It could be. I know when New York people move to LA, their skin becomes orange, their hair becomes blond and they don’t eat.

JOHN: Donald Trump is a sort-of New Yorker and he is orange.

JEREMY: He is unique. Maybe more of a Palm Beach person.

JOHN: I read somewhere that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry use American PR people who don’t really understand the British public’s psychology. So the PR advice they give Meghan & Harry is wrong for the UK.

Chloe is like “an international plague”

JEREMY: No. THEY are wrong. They’re horrible. I’m sorry, I think they’re grifters. They’re looking for cash any way they can get it. I think Harry is communicating with us through eye-blinks. I think he’s really got Stockholm Syndrome, like he’s been kidnapped.

JOHN: Well that’s just lost you a potential lucrative Harry PR contract… Why should I buy your book?

JEREMY: I think it’s a funny read. It’s HONEST. I put on paper what people have to deal with and I think it’s maybe cathartic for people. I’ve got great feedback: Oh God! I experience that every day! I do think it will appeal to British people too because Chloe is universal. It’s an international plague.

JOHN: So, a sequel book?

JEREMY: Chloe Doesn’t Have Bandwidth.

JOHN: What?

JEREMY: This is the new thing. When you deal with a PR person or a journalist and they don’t want to deal with you, they say: “I don’t have bandwidth right now…” 

JOHN: What does not having bandwidth mean? The WiFi is going to crash?

JEREMY: Thankyou! It’s like I don’t have the mental capacity, I don’t have time… I don’t know what it means, but everybody says it… It’s the polite way of saying, “Fuck off!”

JOHN: Does ‘bandwidth’ vary between West and East Coast?

JEREMY: Oh, no! Everybody! Everybody! I think it’s an American thing at the moment; I’ve not seen it from anybody in Britain yet.

JOHN: Yet…

JEREMY: I’m going to get in so much trouble for this…

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Filed under Offensive, political correctness, PR

PR, lateral thinking, political porn and Channel 5 TV’s new Tractor World…

A tractor attracter…

Even if you are on painkillers and muscle relaxant drugs for a sore spine/hip/leg/ankle… when you get an email from an unknown person called Xander with the heading TRACTORS: BIG, BIGGER, BIGGEST – as I did three days ago – you tend to open it immediately.

Tractors are currently amusingly sexy in the UK because, a couple of weeks ago, MP Neil Parish had to resign after he was ‘outed’ for watching porn on his mobile phone in the House of Commons chamber. He said he had been looking at a tractor website and, accidentally, he had then found himself watching a porn site.

The email I got was a PR pitch plugging a new Channel 5 series (starting tonight) called Tractor World

Increasingly prestigious as my blog may be, I am surely not the first choice for publicising a TV farming series about tractors.

I thought: Either this is a wild mistake or it is an admirable piece of lateral thinking – Because of the Neil Parish MP link, you might as well pitch a tractor story to what is sometimes called a comedy blog.

So I asked Xander (Alexander Ross), co-founder of Percy & Warren – a PR agency specialising in the film, TV & entertainment industry – why he had sent me the email…


Xander and I talked about tractor PR via WhatsApp…

JOHN: Why did you contact me?

XANDER: We go to databases to put together relevant lists of people and you filtered through on Comedy and TV. 

JOHN: You contacted me, presumably, because of the Neil Parish tractor porn story.

XANDER: Yeah, we were chatting about Tractor World and thinking maybe we could do a slide show of people and tractors with a romantic Barry White song over the top of it. That might be a little too on-the-nose, but quite fun. You’ve got to jump on an opportunity when it presents itself and it just so happens now that a documentary series on tractors is coming out like a couple of weeks after the MP story.

JOHN: The producers, RawCut Television, didn’t mind you being lighthearted about their serious documentary series?

XANDER: We spoke about it and they wanted something that could make them laugh as well. It was actually a hard brief, but…

JOHN: A hard brief?

XANDER: Well, it’s a lot harder to make somebody laugh than it is to make them cringe.

A lot of the (serious) shows that come out on Channel 5 have got that sort of popular edge to them:. You take something that’s not about the London metropolitan elite or whatever but is for a more dispersed crowd – not your office worker living in the suburbs of London.

Actually, Tractor World HAS been quite a fun one to work on. If you get something like Star Wars or whatever, you’re turning down opportunities of coverage whereas, with something like this, you have to find a way to publicise it that is a little bit different or maybe even a little bit tongue-in-cheek.

For Channel 4, we do Devon and Cornwall, which has been a huge ratings success for the channel. It’s massively popular: a wholesome, kindhearted sort of programme.

JOHN: I know nothing about agriculture or tractors or muck-spreading techniques. Why should I watch a TV series about tractors?

XANDER: If you like things like Clarkson’s Farm and you’re interested in finding out about other lifestyle worlds… Good documentaries are the ones that make you interested about something in which you have no expertise. So, if you can find something that’s nice and warmhearted and has a bit of fun to it, I think you’re onto a good bet with that.

Tractors – always a sexy subject…

JOHN: I once stumbled on a BBC documentary series about the history of British motorway service stations. I have no idea how it got commissioned, but it was fascinating. It was amazing. Who knows? Maybe, in advertiser talk, tractors are now ‘sexy’ too… A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian was a bestselling book only a few years ago.

XANDER: As I say, we’re working on Devon and Cornwall at the moment. We’ve also been working recently on The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge with Sandi Toksvig – another Channel 4 show. It’s about making miniature houses and stuff like that. Shows like The Great British Bake Off do very well at the moment. People like nice and warmhearted and a bit of fun.

JOHN: Your company mostly does glamorous media-type things – a master class with film producer Jeremy Thomas, the return of BBC Three to terrestrial TV…

XANDER: Yes. We were born out of the pandemic in July 2020. We were a company that sprang out of another company – Franklin Rae PR – that expanded into loads of different areas.

They had been a film and TV specialist for about 20-odd years and had moved into architecture, financial technology and stuff like that. I was heading up the (media) division, but when we were pitching for new business, people would say we were too generalist.

So we asked the CEO if we could spin it off into a separate company. We did that in July 2020 and we’ve just gone from strength to strength, very much with an international outlook… Clients in Finland, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Canada, the US; done stuff in Brazil; done a little bit with Japan, although Japan can take a lot longer than other countries.

JOHN: Why?

XANDER: Just that decisions are taken a lot more slowly. You get moved through hierarchies. You have to establish trust with one person, then move on to establish trust with the next person. Eventually you reach the decision-maker and then they decide Yes or No. It just takes a longer time to go through all those networks, but it’s worth it.

JOHN: What’s the most bizarre and interesting account you’ve worked on?

XANDER: I worked on a show a few years back called The Penis Extension Clinic

JOHN: Who did you approach to get PR for that?

XANDER: Oh, you go straight to the tabloids for that sort of stuff.

JOHN: Presumably for Tractor World, you have been going for the agricultural community.

XANDER: Yes, Farming Life and so on. Agribusiness. It’s in Farmers World today, but it’s also in the Daily Telegraph.

JOHN: What’s the Telegraph’s angle?

XANDER: They’ve said it’s something for Neil Parish to watch.

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Filed under PR, Television, UK

A beggar with a mobile phone, a symbol of fluidity and a roller-skating dog. Not.

The room where I was born in the local maternity hospital

I am a simple chap.

I was born in Campbeltown, then a fishing town with multiple whisky distilleries on the west coast of Scotland.

I was brought up there and in a council estate on top of a windy hill in Aberdeen.

And in Ilford which then claimed to be in the county of Essex but which, in all reality, was and is just an extension of London’s East End with some slightly better housing.

What I am saying is that I am not an up-market person and do not have any inbuilt affinity with people who have affectations to artiness.

And I like simple sentences.

So some things still seem a bit strange to me.

Added to which I think I may have lived too long.

This afternoon, a beggar on a Thameslink train in London asked the people in my carriage for money to buy credit for his mobile phone so he could arrange a bed for tonight… via his mobile phone. He got no money and wandered off to the next carriage muttering: “You’ll give money to foreigners but not to me…”

I was on my way to the private preview of an art exhibition by Joy Yamusangie at the Now Gallery, just opposite the O2 venue in what estate agents now call North Greenwich.

I am not one of life’s avid modern art gallery goers.

It’s usually the people who put me off.

But some masochistic gene hidden deep within me made me go to the preview after I read (or despite reading) the PR pitch:


The invitation to Joy Yamusangie’s preview

I am delighted to invite you to the private view of Joy Yamusangie’s new exhibition Feeling Good. The private view will feature a performance by Awale Jant Band and DJ set by Alex Rita & Errol (Touching Bass).

Yamusangie’s solo presentation takes the form of an imaginary jazz club inspired by the story of the jazz artist Billy Tipton. Yamusangie has drawn inspiration from Tipton’s story while using jazz as a symbol of gender euphoria and the relief of feeling good within themselves.

In Joy’s exhibition, jazz is used as the symbol of fluidity, joy and freedom and it speaks specifically to Yamusangie’s own experience with understanding and celebrating their trans identity and journey with learning music.

Artist Joy Yamusangie’s image of  a man with a trumpet

Yamusangie’s profoundly autobiographical practice amalgamates bold colours with vibrant self portraiture that functions as a distinct act of self appreciation.

Family, memory and community sit at the core of the artist’s practice and Yamusangie uses these elements to explore Congolese diaspora from a highly personal perspective.

The artist’s exploration of race, identity and representation stem from a place of intimacy as they investigate socio-political issues within the microcosm of their own community.


I went to the preview.

I left after 20 minutes. 

I should have left after 10. 

I never even got to the music bit. 

When I left, I went to North Greenwich tube station. There were some young men on roller-skates and a dog who was not on roller-skates. They were enjoying themselves. Including the dog.

That’s my sort of event.

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Filed under Art, PR

The most translated word in the world is not beautiful…

(Photo by Sara Cervera via Unsplash)

One thing about writing this blog is I get sent some odd messages from fairly random PR people about fairly odd and random subjects and events. Some dull; some interesting.

Some subjects are more interesting than others…

I got an email this morning telling me:

In 2017 it was reported that the word ‘beautiful’ was, monthly, the most translated word around the world. Espresso Translations wanted to find out if that had changed and to some surprise it has.

Analysing Google search terms such as ‘how to say’ in ten countries, along with the most searched for results using Google, we can now reveal the below findings:


Search term Average Monthly searches
How to say Chocolate in Italian 18,000
How to say Chocolate in French 18,000
How to say Chocolate in Spanish 17,459
How to say Chocolate in Portuguese 17,378
How to say Chocolate in Japanese 12,154
How to say Chocolate in Dutch 18,000
How to say Chocolate in Polish 14,744
How to say Chocolate in German 15,654
How to say Chocolate in Turkish 13,364

How to say beautiful is still not far behind those numbers:


Search term Average Monthly searches
How to say Beautiful in Italian 18,000
How to say Beautiful in French 14,000
How to say Beautiful in Spanish 14,459
How to say Beautiful in Portuguese 11,378
How to say Beautiful in Japanese 12,154
How to say Beautiful in Dutch 18,000
How to say Beautiful in Polish 13,744
How to say Beautiful in German 11,654
How to say Beautiful in Turkish 13,364

‘Pizza’ and ‘What is your name?’ were amongst the world’s most popular searches:


Search term Average Monthly searches
How to say Beautiful in Italian 18,000
How to say Pizza in French 16,000
How to say Doctor  in Spanish 11,959
How to say Beautiful in Portuguese 11,378
How to say Hello in Japanese 9,674
How to say you are welcome in Dutch 8,000
How to say cheers in Polish 13,744
How to say what is your name in German 7,125
How to say Beautiful in Turkish 13,364

No payment was received for posting this blog, but I wouldn’t say No to some chocolate.

I jest, of course.

 

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Filed under Food, Internet, PR, search engine

David McGillivray’s pitch for a new and sexually shocking Maugham feature film

My previous blog here was about writer-producer-hyphenate David McGillivray’s upcoming autobiography Little Did You Know.

At the end, he mentioned that he had optioned movie rights to Robin Maugham’s scandalous novel The Wrong People, which he is pitching to prospective financiers.

Non-producers/financiers seldom see actual pitches. They only see the finished product if it ever gets made.

So I thought it would be interesting to print the text – with his permission – of McG’s sales pitch for The Wrong People. Here it is. The photos in the pitch were taken in the 1970s by actor Sal Mineo.


SECRETLY PUBLISHED

FORGOTTEN FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS

ROBIN MAUGHAM’S SCANDALOUS NOVEL
IS ABOUT TO SHOCK A NEW GENERATION

From award-winners David McGillivray and Peccadillo Pictures

Robin Maugham’s

THE WRONG PEOPLE

Set in the UK and Morocco in 1967, The Wrong People follows the torments of English schoolmaster Arnold Turner, who has the misfortune while on holiday in Tangier to be seduced into the dangerous world of Clarence Baird. A rich and unscrupulous expatriate, Baird entraps Turner into bringing him one of his most troubled pupils, Dan Gedge, so that he can be groomed. The monstrous plan, involving a dead-of-night kidnapping and a secret passage to Marseille, has a shockingly unexpected conclusion

Robert Cecil Romer Maugham, 2nd Viscount Maugham, and author of The Servant, took the advice of his famous uncle Somerset when he wrote The Wrong People.

The book’s theme – a sexual predator living in Morocco tries to persuade an English schoolmaster to procure him a boy he can groom – was too shocking even for the “swinging” Sixties. Maugham published the book under a pseudonym. But the revised 1970 edition, under his own name, was well received. “Grippingly told,” said the Sunday Times. “A gripping thriller,” agreed the Sunday Express.

The book was discovered by former Hollywood star Sal Mineo, the kid who adored James Dean in Rebel without a Cause. Mineo wanted to direct his first feature and in 1971 came to London with his partner Courtney Burr to begin pre-production. Nobody wanted to be associated with this hot property.

A succession of writers, among them Peter Shaffer, David Sherwin and Edna O’Brien refused to write the screenplay. Actors including Martin Potter, Leonard Whiting and John Moulder-Brown wouldn’t even meet Mineo. Eventually, a script was written by Murray Smith, known for cheap exploitation pictures made for independent producer-director Pete Walker. Mineo went to Morocco to scout locations. But the authorities wouldn’t allow him to film there. Mineo returned to the US without a deal in 1974.

Two years later he was stabbed to death.

40 years later writer-producer David McGillivray read a new biography of Sal Mineo, which includes a long chapter on The Wrong People. McGillivray had been aware of Mineo’s attempts to film the book since 1973 when, like Murray Smith, he worked for Pete Walker. McGillivray’s screenplays for Walker include the cult classics House of Whipcord and Frightmare. Later, McGillivray produced a gay horror film, In the Place of the Dead, in Morocco and the erotic fantasy Trouser Bar, which premiered at BFI Southbank in March 2016 and caused a furore. Both films received awards internationally.

After re-reading The Wrong People, McGillivray was convinced the time had come for a film of Maugham’s gripping thriller. In 2017 he secured the screen rights and wrote a new screenplay, which has received the blessing of both Courtney Burr – “I enjoyed your script very much. I found the characters clear, distinctive and true to my memory of the book” – and Robin Maugham’s former partner William Lawrence.

Robin Maugham wrote The Wrong People based on his own experiences, both in the UK and Morocco.

Robin Maugham in 1974 (Photo by Allan Warren)

Robin Maugham

Robin Maugham (1916-1981) is known throughout the world for his novel The Servant (1948). In 1963 it was adapted into a celebrated British film, directed by Joseph Losey and written by Harold Pinter, and later included in the British Film Institute’s Top 100 British Films. A stage version premiered in 1958 and is still on tour throughout Europe.

Maugham wrote several other novels, some of which were also filmed. When he showed the manuscript of The Wrong People to his uncle, Somerset Maugham, the great man declared “that it was the first novel for years that he had been obliged to read straight through at one sitting.” Many subsequent readers, including producer-writer David McGillivray, also have found it impossible to put the book down.

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Filed under Movies, PR, Writing

Comedian Julian Clary and tell-all hack McG linked via sexploitation horror film

I get sent loads of PR bumph (I feel you can never get too much) including the generic PR interviews that are sent out to one-and-all in the media to plug upcoming events. Indeed, I wrote one myself a few months ago to plug a comedian’s UK tour.

The idea is that local papers etc may run the full PR interview as if they themselves had conducted it. Or edit or cannibalise it for quotes, facts and photos.

I never use these PR interviews myself.

Why bother? If I’m interested, I will chat to the person myself.

However here – below – is the exception.

PR man Greg Day is plugging the fact that the Horror Channel in the UK will be screening cult director Pete Walker’s 1976 horror and sexploitation movie Schizo this Saturday. And today Greg sent me his PR interview with the film’s screenwriter David McGillivray who has occasionally turned up in my blog before – notably in 2016 to plug his would-be notorious gay sex film Trouser Bar.

David McG is publishing his inevitably scandalous, tell-all autobiography Little Did You Know in a month’s time and I have already arranged to chat to him the day after its press launch.

But I won’t be asking him about Schizo… So here, as a teaser, in its full glory, is the PR Q&A for Schizo:


SCHIZO – “When the left hand doesn’t know who the right hand is killing!!”

Q: SCHIZO is unusual in your body of work with director Pete Walker because the concept and narrative were not of your choosing. How much of a problem was that for you?

A: Huge. I thought the script that we re-worked was terribly old-fashioned and this led to big arguments with Walker that ended our relationship.

Q: You often play a cameo in the movies you’ve written – You’re ‘Man at Séance’ in SCHIZO. Any particular reason?

A: I liked to write myself parts so that I could observe Walker at work. He was an extremely talented exploitation director who influenced the remainder of my career.

Q: SCHIZO exhibits many Hitchcockian references and Pete Walker cites Hitch as a hero. Is he for you too?

A: Yes, of course. Psycho is one of my favourite horror films.

Q: You’ve written many films for many people in so many genres, but what’s your own personal favourite?

A: My first film for Pete Walker, House of Whipcord. It was very exciting because it was the kind of film I’d dreamed of writing.

Svengali – The Rocky Horror that got away

Q: Just prior to SCHIZO you wrote a pop opera in the Rocky Horror vein for Pete Walker titled SVENGALI based on George du Maurier’s Gothic melodrama. Do you regret that project being shelved?

A: No, it would have been a disaster. Walker realised this and cancelled it almost before I’d typed the final page of the script.

Q: Your autobiography Little Did You Know is published in June. Rumour says it’s not your typical memoir though, so what’s it all about?

A: I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say that after its publication I will never work again.

Q: Your love/hate relationship with Pete Walker is common knowledge. Are there any more scandalous revelations about that in the book?

A: Oh yes…

Julian Clary – Never knowingly understated

Q: You write a lot of the material for a comedian. How did that business relationship begin and is this the nearest you can get to the Golden Era of the British sexploitation film you so brilliantly essayed in your book Doing Rude Things

A: Writing smut for Julian Clary is my day job. I enjoy it immensely. I have written for him for something like 37 years. In Julian’s latest show, which tours the UK before playing the London Palladium on 8th June, unsuspecting audience members are subjected to so-called ‘Heterosexual Aversion Therapy’. If you sit in the front row, you deserve all you get.

Q: You’ve announced your next film project is The Wrong People based on the novel by Robin Maugham. So you have no intention of retiring from the film industry just yet?

A: I love movies. I am fresh from a meeting with a director who bravely has chosen to take on this project. But, in all likelihood, it is so controversial that probably it will finish both our careers. If Little Did You Know hasn’t finished mine already.

Q: Finally, SCHIZO receives its Horror Channel premiere on Sat April 27th. Will you be watching?

A: I’m pleased Horror Channel viewers will get the chance to see it, but will I be watching? Certainly not. I can’t bear to see my own work, which is all dreadful.

David McGillivray – the soon-to-be-autobiographer – never a man to mince his words

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