Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dinner at Spago

This is a true story about a PR stunt for the movie Girls Just Want to Have Fun that seemed more like a fire drill than anything else.

And I was driving the fire truck.

New World Pictures was a ‘mini-major’ with very high visibility in the industry. A great team led by Harry Sloan (who is now running MGM), Larry Kuppin and Bob Rehme bought it from Roger Corman two years before. The studio was releasing 20 films a year. The TV group had projects with HBO and the networks, and we had just started a Home Video Division. It was a busy place.

We were putting together the final PR and promotion plan for the ‘soon to be’ cult classic, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, when Tony Angelotti and I were called to Co-Chairman Bob Rehme’s office.

Bob was at Spago for dinner the night before and noticed that there was construction across the street on Sunset. He looked at Tony and me and said, “Guys, we should try to get a banner for Girls Just Want to Have Fun on that new building…everybody at Spago will see it”. We nodded our heads in agreement, because you just never said no to Bob.

Spago was ‘the’ place in Hollywood. And it sounded like a good idea. We left the office and Tony looked at me, and with a twinkle in his eyes said, “Now what?” Roger Armstrong from our PR agency had the bad luck to be in the office for a meeting.

How do you get a banner on a building that is under construction? Money. We certainly didn't want to go back to Bob and tell him that it was too we brainstormed and came up with what we thought would be a less expensive solution.

A big balloon with the logo on the side… like a baby Goodyear blimp. Roger was on it, and found the balloon. And we cut a check. He got the permission from the building owner. And we cut a check. Roger worked out the details with the construction company. And we cut a check. He went out to the site and worked out the logistics with the foreman. And we cut a check.

We were set, and naturally over budget. We called Bob and told him the good news (but we left out the budget part). He was happy. Roger called from the building. He had good news and bad news. The balloon is up, but no one can see it because there are no lights on the building, and by 6 pm it’s dark.

Oy! We make an executive decision, and rent a big Kleig light. Roger rents three parking spaces, and we park it in the Tower Records parking lot across the street and shine it on the balloon. More checks to cut.

Perfect… now the Hollywood ‘A’ list at Spago can see Girls Just Want To Have Fun while they enjoy their goat cheese pizza and wine.

Well, almost. Spago was right on Sunset Boulevard… in the heart of the ‘Sunset Strip. To the south lay the Los Angeles basin with its incredible views of lights stretching to the Pacific Ocean. But to the North, were the Hollywood Hills.

And that was the problem. As soon as the spotlight went on, the shots started. Some of the more 'colorful' sharpshooters of the Hollywood Hills were using the Girls Just Want to Have Fun balloon for target practice.

After three days and nights of trying to patch and repatch that damned balloon we had all enough and took it down.

And if that wasn't enough. Bob never went to Spago.

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