On the eve of Pat Kingsley’s opening up shop in London, the Guardian runs a long Kingsley profile, detailing the history of her career and along with it, the development of the odd Hollywood mini-industry of celebrity handling. The overrarching question is, of course, does Kinglsey (and by extension, her colleagues in tinsel-spinning) shape, or react to, celebrity culture?
Pat Kingsley thinks people don’t read any more anyway. ‘You know,’ she says, ‘these days, television is basically what decides what’s going to be a hit movie. Getting that kind of exposure, buying the time on the air. Much more than press. The kind of people that they want to bring into the movie theatres – young people – aren’t that interested in the print media, and they get most of their information from television.’ Much as it pains me to admit it, she is right. What’s harder to know is whether Kingsley and her followers have changed the face of celebrity, or whether the changing face of celebrity has created them.
The article also mentions that journalists have, on occasion, tried to organize against publicists:
The media has tried to fight back. After the release of A Few Good Men in 1992, a few editors decided to take action against the power-publicists. Lanny Jones, the editor of People, gathered together a group of journalists from Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Time, Premiere and TV Guide and tried to get them all to agree to lay down a code – they would, collectively, not cave in to the publicists’ demands. Kingsley said: ‘All you have to do to break one of those alliances is offer someone an exclusive interview.’ And sure enough, the code was never put into place.
Wow, somebody should make a movie about that. (And speaking of movies about media, over at the mediabistro.com mothership, there’s an article about the best of them.)