“The WGA Strike Will
Likely End Soon” Says
Food PR King at
At Summer EPPS Mixer
“I think today with the Directors Guild of America making some concessions, it’s a good move and hopefully it will motivate both sides – the striking Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to reached an agreement,” said Lee Pearlstein, author and owner of Lee & Associates, Los Angeles. Pearlman, attending the BusinessWire, Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS) Winter mixer at the Celadon Restaurant, West LA. Pearlstein has been promoting products with celebrities for more than 50 years. He knows about celebrity egos, high stakes, tense meetings and places.
Pearlstein predicts the WGA strike Will End In January
“I personally think they (AMPTP) see the writing on the wall, I believe the Oscars will be on, I predict within the next week there may be something heavy takes place, and I hope they do settle,” said Pearlman. “I’ve got two associates that are both caterers and professional food stylists, along with professional home economists and professional chefs that losing money due the strike. The home economist laid her entire staff off, because they’re not taking any food photos for the sitcoms and the caterer doesn’t have any wrap parties, so the employees don’t have any work and there are no food events due to the strike’s domino effect.” he explained.
Entertainment Publicity Needs More Gimmicks
Pearlstein also believes entertainment publicists need to get creative again and bring back the “gimmicks.” The food publicity pioneer shares 50 years of entertaining inside stories about placing products everything from turkey to vegetables to even honey on TV cooking and talk shows from John Carson days to modern day TV. His most recent book
“Celebrity Stew” (www.celebritystew.com) is still a hot item along with another book he penned called “Recipes of The Stars” featuring “A” celebrities such as Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, Phyllis Diller, Jimmy Durante, Abbot & Costello, Wayne Newton, Steven Allen and even President Kennedy to name a few. Coining phrases and promoting potatoes –from Groucho Marx to Mickey Mouse. He created such nicknames on TV such as on TV as Miss Turkey, Miss Cucumber, and Mrs. Cubbinson Stuffing.
His product placements were impressive from TV talk shows to even Mrs. Cubbinson Dressing in the movie “Oh God,” with the late Singer-Songwriter John Denver.
While Leo Pearlstein is prominently known by many in his profession as a pioneer in the world of food promotion, he did not just decide to retire one day after working more than 50 years and write a book about his colorful life with many of the elite of Hollywood royalty. Not a chance.
“Ties Are Best PR” says Leo Pearlstein
“Tie-ins are the best things for PR,” explained Pearlstein. “”We used to do a lot of product placement with the entertainment industry. I was thrilled with the product placement, and it didn’t cost us any money. One of the best PR guys at Warner Bros said to me, ‘I’ll be glad to put your stuff in my movie, but what can you do for me?’ I said, ‘I’ll help you publicize that movie in channels you don’t have. I’ll get you on the food pages, and say your actresses’ favorite recipe. And he said fine, ‘you help me plug the movie, I’ll help you plug your products.’”
Advice to prepare for the field of PR?
“If my grandkid were going into the business I would first of all say, ‘there’s no substitute for school, for college and learning how to spell, and write and so on academically. There’s no substitute at all. The next thing is become an intern and get some practical experience. The next thing we do and a lot of people do in this business is read the paper, listen to the radio, watch TV and know what’s going on. If an opportunity comes, you don’t think about it, you jump on it instantly. That’s what makes a good publicist. You better do it in good taste, so you don’t offend the medium, the audience and you don’t offend the client. Those are the basics,” said Pearlstein. “These people should be networking tonight at this mixer, looking for tie-ins, and ways to help each other. I think tie-ins are the best PR.”
This public relations giant, known as America’s unofficial “king of culinary public relations,” still clocks in more than 40 hours a week, spearheading his successful Los Angeles public relations and advertising agency. It took him nearly two years just to find the time between various promotional campaigns to go through the many files of his cherished vintage celebrity photos of the likes of Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, Groucho Marx, Abbott & Costello, Bing Crosby, Danny Thomas, Dinah Shore, Phyllis Diller and literally hundreds of others. All of them are posing with one of his many clients’ food products for publicity purposes.
Whether these super celebrities were seen cooking or posing with prunes, eggs, turkeys, potatoes, chives or boysenberries, for example, every photo has a unique and entertaining story that goes with it. “Celebrity Stew” offers a fascinating peek into Pearlstein’s behind-the-scenes world of product/celebrity publicity.
When he brought a rough copy of “Celebrity Stew” to his friend, Steve Allen, for advice, to his surprise and delight, Allen who had written over 50 books, offered to write the foreword. Allen played a significant part in Pearlstein’s adventures in TV promotion, as illustrated in a hilarious chapter titled,” Steve Allen, Man For All Seasonings.”
Pearlstein started his working life in his parents’ grocery store in Los Angeles. He was an award-winning student and one of the earliest marketing graduates from the University of Southern California. In the late 40s, he went to work for Jenkins & Large, a Los Angeles advertising and public relations agency owned by movie star Eddie Bracken, as well as working with Bracken Television Productions. Bracken disbanded the company in 1950, giving Pearlstein the opportunity to take his food accounts with him and open his own agency, Lee & Associates (www.leeassociates.com)
One of the Most Embarrassing Moments: A Few New Wrinkles On Prunes
Pearlstein recalled his most embarrassing moment involving the sensitive the 64-member California Advisory Prune Board. The client of more than 10 years was watching the hottest show on the air “What’s My Line?” “When Comedian Jimmy Durante and Soupy Sales had a ball asking ‘Miss Prune’ (Karen Linsay) got her title. Lines like ‘why don’t you just say you got the title by process of elimination, and that it kept you running,’ didn’t sit too well with the board. But the comedians and even Dinah Shore said great things about Prunes, including how they got rid of wrinkles and made your skin more healthy. “However, when my son Howard Pearlstein went the next meeting of the sensitive Prune board, the chairman of the board wanted to fire me.”
Scores of stars have since participated in his brand of publicity that benefits products and celebrities equally. Today, Leo’s innovative agency continues to thrive, specializing in public relations, marketing and advertising. He loves his work, and it shows.
The next EPPS event is media workshop: TV BOOKERS/TALK SHOW BOOKERS – February 21, and will be held at the ICG Local 600 Auditorium, 7755 Sunset Boulevard
Hollywood, CA., 90046, 8:80 a.m. RSVPs at http://www.eppsonline.org.
MAYO PR – “We don’t guarantee media, we just get it!”