On any given day, the snail trails of some rather wretched publicists are always likely to streak the floor at Defamer HQ. As such, we'd like to take a rare moment to recognize one of the genuinely great guys in the business: Jeremy Walker, who, we're distressed to learn, may be exiting stage left after a hiatus this summer — but not before offering up a candid, must-read reality check for Hollywood's increasingly defensive Publicity-Industrial Complex:
Publicity is really complicity. This is a simple concept that for whatever reason took me way too long to understand, but it first hit me on the set of Monster's Ball when, after I asked Halle Berry to approve some stills, she looked over a stack of contact sheets and said something like "You know, they're all fine to use however you want, but don't show them to my publicist because she'll just kill everything."
We are talking about photos that depicted Berry looking like hell, but that also showed her inhabiting a wholly unexpected character. At that moment I got the sense that Berry would be utterly complicit in the campaign, which she was, for which she was rewarded with an Oscar. You'd be surprised at how many actors (or, perhaps more accurately, their representatives) I've dealt with over the years who have not been able to grasp this.
Amen. Walker goes on to add that — gasp! — "[p]ublicity should not try to obfuscate" and that "lifestyle" publicists are probably best left to club promotion as opposed to shepherding films through competitive festival and theatrical marketplaces. We'd expect no less honesty from Jeremy Walker, which is all the more reason we'll so miss him — and sure, maybe even envy him from time to time — should he stay gone for good. Maybe he'll try consulting? Every studio in town could learn from a guy like this.