The 7 Worst PR Professionals in the Movies

If these fake flacks were the standard...

Hollywood covers all genres, all eras and all professions.

The movies on that Silver Screen usually take us to a place and time we all can appreciate. Many of them have been covered in the PRNewserverse (and you really should check them out and share with your agency for its own board room library) and have shown us how it is supposed to be done.

See, for example, our favorite character from Thank You for Smoking (and S/O to the great Nick Naylor).

Then again, several movies are prime examples of ways in which we wish PR was not portrayed. You know: slimy used car types, folks who would sell out their own mama for a news story hit and publicists with as much integrity as one of the Goodfellas.

Unfortunately, Hollywood directors have apparently had their run-ins with some tools in this industry. Here are the 7 worst PR professionals in Hollywood. 

charlie factory7. Willy Wonka (Mainly Johnny Depp, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory) 

Let’s get the main question out of the way for the young ones in the PRNewserverse: the original was FAR better because Gene Wilder was absolute greatness and he did it first, that’s why!

In the Depp version, Wonka’s search for a progeny to inherit his confectionery legacy turns to the media for assistance. Guerrilla marketing campaigns, social media and, arguably, a satellite media tour were in the works.

Who wouldn’t be interested in locating a golden ticket? People were close to fighting each other for such a find. From coast to coast, sea to shining sea, everyone was rummaging through stores searching for one of the five select Wonka bars. Sales went up and profits surged, but it was a Tim Burton-inspired PR move.

Meanwhile, dentists everywhere offered Wonka and Burton their eternal thanks for creating even more cavities.

Phone_Booth_movie6. Stu Shepard (Colin Ferrell, Phone Booth) 

The movie starts out with this greasy guy playing competing assignment desk editors against each other for one of his B-list celebrity clients. He lies to one while placing the other on hold, offering an exclusive to one and an embargo to the other.

He’s also accompanied by his staff flunkie who is supposed to be an intern, but if anyone who reads this blog treats a PR intern like that, you are welcome to never speak to any of us again. Sure, Colin is believable as a freaked-out dude caught in the crosshairs or some psycho… but PR? Hardly. OK, maybe a few neurotic entertainment publicists.

Good movie. Nasty guy.

jersey girl5. Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck, Jersey Girl) 

Let’s see, where to start? The movie itself ranks right up there with non-classics like Gigli and Daredevil. Second, if he were really in PR, his name would have been Oliver…or possibly Kirk. Anyway, he’s a music publicist with a swinging lifestyle who has a kid and can’t multi-task to save his life.

What successful PR person do you know who can’t balance two things at once, much less 15 to 20? But Ollie can’t feed his kid and make a TV interview on time even when they’re three hours apart. What an incompetent schlep–and who hired this dude anyway? Finally, the movie includes Affleck saying, “You’re riding in the Batmobile.”

Super hero movie aficionados hate him for that terrible act of foreshadowing, too.

people i know4. Eli Wurman (Al Pacino, People I Know)

As a loyal Pacino fan it pains me to write this, but the movie was just not any good. Al plays a smooth public affairs guy who worked alongside Dr. King…because who is going to hate a PR guy with that on his resume? Of course, we then fast-forward to a present in which Wurman is washed-up, burned-out and smelling of more booze than a moonshine shack deep in the Ozarks.