In addition to the local non-profit cultural organizations we represent on an ongoing basis, we frequently have the opportunity to work with “boldfaced names” (celebrities) who are either performing here or in town to lend their name to a good cause. The Silverman Group has had the privilege of (and responsibility for) working with television stars making their Chicago stage debut (Jeffrey Donovan of Burn Notice in Don’t Dress for Dinner), legends of the big screen making a rare local appearance – such as Charlton Heston, Liza Minnelli, and Eva Marie Saint – a cadre of comedians annually gracing stages around town as part of the TBS Just for Laughs festival, such as Sarah (no relation) Silverman, Joel McHale, and Louis CK, and even a supermodel – Cindy Crawford – touting her furniture line at The RoomPlace.
And while it might seem glamorous (or dare we suggest “fun”) to work with high-profile talent, the publicity challenges are unique and numerous and have included the following:
Mastering multiple “handlers” (in multiple time zones)
Depending on the caliber of talent involved, in order to facilitate an interview or even just secure a current bio or headshot, we are frequently referred to one or more in a series of talent representatives – an artist’s manager, agent, personal assistant, and/or personal (or studio) publicist. Not only are these reps sometimes unaware of the Chicago project in question, but likely we are just another anonymous (albeit professional) person requesting something of their client. Adding to the “fun,” oftentimes talent is based on one of the coasts – or even “across the pond” – and it’s up to The Silverman Group to keep tabs on who’s doing what from where and when…no worries! The Silverman Group knows how to roll with the punches, and communicate with talent representatives in a professional and patient manner, knowing full well that our publicity needs are likely not as urgent as other issues with which they’re dealing.
Navigating the restrictions as to what can (and can’t) be discussed in an interview – and protecting celebrities from overzealous reporters
When it comes to coordinating interviews for celebrities (or even for high profile executives), it is our job to protect them from overzealous reporters, and keep the interview focused on the project being promoted at hand. To this end, The Silverman Group always makes sure to be briefed in advance by aforementioned talent reps as to any topics (personal or otherwise) that are off limits in an interview – and typically the higher profile the celebrity, the more that’s off limits. One television star might avoid questions about his series’ co-star while another deflects inquiries into her recent divorce. In order to maintain a solid relationship with our talent – so that they’ll continue to serve as a spokesperson on our client’s behalf – we prep reporters/producers in advance about what can and can’t be discussed – without appearing ungrateful for the publicity being provided and without making the talent appear to be “difficult” or a “diva.” Then, during the interview itself, we protect the talent from wayward questions and if necessary, step in and be the “bad guy,” cutting an interview short. The Silverman Group is adept at keeping everyone happy – the talent who prefer to reveal as little as possible and the reporters seeking news.
Ensuring that an overall production/institution is not overshadowed by one celebrity participant
Sensitivity is needed when a production or project involves one high profile name that likely overshadows the others. Realistically, it can be clear that one participant is more “attention-getting” than the others, but still the others have
egos feelings, too, and want to be treated with the same respect and deference for their time. For instance, an actor in a play might be a household name, as compared to his co-stars and the director or producer who are equally important to the production’s success, yet possibly less familiar to the mainstream media. One way The Silverman Group has dealt with the reluctance of press to interview anyone besides the “boldfaced name” (b.n.) is by making it a requirement that the “b.n.” be interviewed alongside a fellow cast or creative team member, to give a “more complete” picture of the project. It is our job to make sure that all participants get a chance to speak on behalf of the project; while the major media may not have time to interview all involved in a production (or project), certainly there is a niche publication or a blogger that is eager to get a sound bite from someone associated with the production (or project).
How do we judge our success in this area? Over the years, The Silverman Group has secured much repeat business from the clients who’ve entrusted us with their name talent – and are assured that we will always handle talent (frankly, no matter how big or small) with respect, finesse and discretion.