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When most people think of publicists, they picture someone like Vincent Chase’s fast-talking, cell phone-addicted, workaholic publicist, Shauna Roberts (expertly played by Debi Mazar) on HBO’s “Entourage.”In reality, most of these traits are actually true of Hollywood publicists, who are on-call 24/7 for their A-list clients.
Whether they’re crafting an actor’s image, babysitting a hard-partying starlet, fielding phone calls from press, or helming a multi-million dollar movie campaign, publicists are an integral part of the showbiz machine.
And they’re getting paid big bucks to do so. “The most basic services start at $4,500 a month and escalate toward what she calls ‘the high six figures’ annually for corporate clients,” reports one top Hollywood publicist in a 2011 New York Times profile.
So we decided to rank them based on their power in the business.
Our picks are based on the wattage of their client roster, feats accomplished, the nominations we asked for in August, and by talking to industry insiders such as journalists and producers who work with publicists on a regular basis, to get a sense of who really holds the keys to Hollywood.
Between TV, film studio, and celebrity publicists, we couldn’t possibly fit everyone on our list, so the following represents at least one in each category.
Although they often prefer to remain under the radar and let their clients soak up the spotlight, publicists know how important image can be. When we asked each of the 20 publicists on our list for further information, almost every single one replied: “Who else is on the list?”
Clients: 'Dr. Phil,' 'The Doctors,' 'Rachel Ray,' 'Entertainment Tonight,' 'The Insider,' 'Inside Edition,' 'Excused,' 'Judge Judy,' 'Judge Joe Brown,' 'Wheel of Fortune,' 'Jeopardy!' and 'Swift Justice With Nancy Grace.'
Memorable moment: Launching such long-running shows.
Why he makes the list: In addition to helping launch a long list of successful TV shows, Wentworth oversees the publicity of 12 syndicated shows. Before his current position at CBS, Wentworth was EVP of Marketing and Communications for 11 years at Paramount Network Television.
Clients: Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Brooke Shields, Shannen Doherty, Denise Richards, Kristin Chenoweth, Vanessa Hudgens, Michael Strahan.
Memorable moment: 'I have had so many memorable career moments. I love my job and every day it is exciting to be a part of what the clients are doing and what they are passionate about. I feel very lucky to have this job and be able to be a part of some very cool things! Memorable career moments are getting to work with some people who I idolized growing up.'
Why she makes the list: She reps all three of the Kardashian sisters. Last year alone, the Kardashian empire pulled in roughly $65 million.
Clients: Aaron Sorkin, Olivia Wilde, McG, Seth McFarlane and Graham King.
Memorable moment: 'There are so, so, so many! However, all of the 'firsts' tend to be the most special. At my very first film scoring session, the director brought me to the centre of the room with the orchestra while they were playing. Being a part of this music and film collaboration process for the first time was one of my all-time favourite career moments.'
Why she makes the list: Joy is the founding partner of PRIME Public Relations. PRIME is a Los Angeles-based firm providing communications, brand management, marketing, strategic planning and social media services to the entertainment industry. Clients of the specialty firm include prominent actors, award-winning filmmakers, leading television creators and producers, production companies, nonprofit corporations and sports leagues.
After receiving a dual degree in Social Science and Communications from USC, Fehily began her public relations career at PMK Public Relations, segued to Castle Rock Entertainment and then returned to the newly-formed PMK/HBH. At PMK/HBH, Fehily served as senior vice president of their bi-coastal film department.
Clients: Stevie Wonder, Camille Grammer, Chaz Bono, Petra Ecclestone, Adrienne Maloof.
Memorable moment: 'The times I remember most are when my lesbian and gay clients came out of the closet and I could actually see and feel the lightness in their hearts as their burdens were lifted.'
Why he makes the list: With over 30 years of PR experience, Bragman now serves as an ABC News Consultant for 'Good Morning America,' is the resident Public Relations Expert for 'Entertainment Tonight,' resident Spin Doctor for HLN's 'Showbiz Tonight' and was a frequent contributor to 'The Joy Behar Show.'
Clients: Colin Farrell, Olivia Munn, Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps, Zach Braff, Matthew Fox, Michael Pena, Carmelo Anthony, Kim Cattrall.
Memorable moment: Smith has helped Olivia Munn go from 'Attack of the Show' host on G4 to starring in Aaron Sorkin's HBO series 'The Newsroom.'
Why she makes the list: Longtime publicist and PMK executive, Smith is a masterful talent publicist representing actors, actresses, comedians, sports stars, and personalities.
Clients: Matthew McConaughey, Christina Aguilera, Lauren Conrad, Jewel, Whitney Port, Marisa Miller, Stacy Keibler and Jeff Lewis.
Memorable moment: Under Perez-Krueger's guidance and tactical direction, Lauren Conrad remains the third highest-selling magazine cover despite the fact that she hasn't been on a television series for years. Also, by orchestrating strategic press coverage and positioning, Perez-Krueger transformed the public (and professional) image of Matthew McConaughey from a romantic comedy heart throb to a serious actor and awards contender.
Why she makes the list: A veteran entertainment industry publicist, Perez-Krueger joined PMK*BNC in June of 2011 from Rogers & Cowan. Perez-Krueger has an innate sense of media and is an expert at managing the images of her high-profile clientele.
Clients: Jill is the lead publicist on two of Fox's biggest shows, 'American Idol' and 'The X Factor.' She also used to run publicity for the network's longstanding hit, 'The Simpsons.'
Memorable moment: 'For the past 16 years at FOX I've worked with some of the most talented people in the industry and have had so many incredible experiences, but I'd have to say launching 'Malcolm in the Middle' was the turning point in my publicity career. The show went on to become a huge success and it was so gratifying to work on campaigns that garnered truly gifted actors like Bryan Cranston his first Emmy nomination. Since then I've gone on to work on everything from 'The Simpsons' to 'Hell's Kitchen' to 'American Idol' and 'The X Factor.' Both the latter have allowed me to travel all over the country and meet everyday people whose lives have literally changed the moment they stepped on that stage. It's inspirational to be even a small part of that phenomenon.'
Why she makes the list: According to Gaude Paez, Vice President of Corporate Communications at FOX, 'Jill is one of the most well-liked and respected network publicists I know, and I don't think any list of top Hollywood publicists would be complete without her. Her ability to manage huge brands like 'American Idol' and 'The X Factor' and work with high-profile talent like Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, and Britney Spears makes her a huge asset for the FOX network.'
Clients: Keen recently led the worldwide theatrical publicity campaigns for Relativity's box office hits 'Act of Valor' and 'Immortals,' as well as the successful launches of 'Mirror Mirror,'' Limitless,' Steven Soderbergh's 'Haywire' and 'Shark Night 3D.' Looking ahead, Keen will lead the theatrical publicity campaigns for Relativity's upcoming releases including Nicholas Sparks'' Safe Haven,' Scott Cooper's 'Out of the Furnace,' Liam Hemsworth starrer 'Paranoia,' Luc Besson's' Malavita,' '21 and Over' and many other titles.
Memorable moment: 'Working on documentaries or films based on true stories is always a pleasure because of the amazing and inspired people you get to meet. You feel the impact on these projects as you are not only helping to educate the masses on some great factual story or issue, but have the responsibility to represent the personal subjects as well. These are the campaigns that always stay with me.'
Why he makes the list: He's worked everywhere! Before joining Relativity, Keen was senior vice president of Worldwide Publicity & Corporate Communications at Overture Films, head of Entertainment and Brand Strategies Division at I/D Public Relations, and spent five years as the senior vice president of special projects at MGM & United Artists where he oversaw specialised publicity efforts for both the domestic and international divisions. Before his employment at MGM, Keen handled similar duties at DreamWorks SKG in the special projects department working on such award-winning films as 'American Beauty' and 'Almost Famous.'
Clients: Jimmy Kimmel, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Zooey Deschanel, Louis CK, Tracy Morgan, Chris D'Elia, Joel McHale, Sarah Silverman and Paul Scheer.
Memorable moment: 'I am sorry but it is Emmy week so I am tapped out on creativity right now!'
Why he makes the list: He reps the kings and queens of comedy.
During his more than 15-year tenure with the company, Kay has played an integral role in building the agency's Media Relations area into the robust practice it is today. Overseeing a staff of more than 30 professionals, Kay supervises the agency's Television, Special Events, Lifestyle, Talent and Corporate Entertainment divisions.
Kay also oversaw efforts to grow the agency's overall social media presence by a whopping 4,300 per cent in just two years and is an expert in how to effectively utilise social media tools to enhance any communications strategy.
Clients: Katie Holmes, Mila Kunis, Ewan McGregor, Viggo Mortensen, Blake Lively, Johnny Galecki, Renée Zellweger, Amber Valletta, Matt LeBlanc, Eric Dane, Rose McGowan, Terrence Howard.
Memorable moment: In July, Katie Holmes left her shared publicist with Tom Cruise and returned to her pre-marriage reps, BWR's Nanci Ryder and Leslie Sloane--who originally signed the actress at age 16.
Why she makes the list: The 'R' in BWR stands for Ryder.
Clients: Katie Holmes, Blake Lively, Kate Beckinsale, Megan Fox, Zoe Saldana, Diane Kruger, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emmy Rossum, Lucy Hale, Gretchen Mol, Melissa McCarthy, Chris Rock, Jason Biggs, Penn Badgley, Edgar Ramirez, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Chris O'Donnell, Mariska Hargitay, keke Palmer, Katharine McPhee, Lauren Graham.
Memorable moment: 'I could give a moment with every client, but one that stands out is when a teenage Megan Fox got my phone number from Kelly Ripa and called me to ask if I'd represent her. It was very sweet.'
Why she makes the list: Despite saying 'God I hate stuff like that' when contacted about this list, Cindy Guagenti -- the managing director at BWR Public Relations -- then recommended Leslie Sloane as one of her top picks to get a spot on our list.
Clients: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Cyndi Lauper, Darren Criss, Demi Lovato, Guy Fieri, Harry Belafonte, Jessica Lu, Jon Bon Jovi, Karlie Kloss, Kathy Griffin, Katie Lee , Leonard Cohen, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Malin Akerman, Naomi Campbell, Nick Lachey, Novak Djokovic, Ryan Lochte, The Band Perry, The Jonas Brothers (Joe, Nick, Kevin), Trace Adkins, Trisha Yearwood, Tyler Perry, Andre Benjamin.
Memorable moment: Shawn: 'I am really proud of the type of work we do and the clients we represent. Nearly half of the clients we represent have a cause element ranging from documentary films to digital, celebrity, corporate, crisis, legal and of course nonprofit organisations. In a very short amount of time, we have grown significantly without compromising our values or losing our culture. I love that we work with clients like the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, American Red Cross, Calvary Hospital, Canon, DoSomething.org, NY Jets, NYC Ballet, Comcast and digital leaders such as IAC, Bing, eBay, Facebook, and the Webby awards -- yet we don't have a website. Keeping our unique culture while we grow is both the single biggest challenge and at the same time the greatest joy.'
Why they makes the list: A quiet yet super powerful PR firm, their clients range from celebs and corporations to non-profits and politicos. They have recently opened an LA office, run by Keleigh Thomas, and nearly tripled their number of staff.
Clients: Johnny Depp, Ryan Gosling, Dakota Fanning, Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Craig, Alexander Skarsgard, Kate Bosworth, Naomi Watts, Orlando Bloom, Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, Benicio Del Toro, Jared Leto.
Memorable moment: 'A memorable moment for me was being acknowledged by Russell Crowe during his Oscar acceptance speech for 'Gladiator.''
Why she makes the list: Her client list speaks for itself.
Clients: Jessica Biel, Reese Witherspoon, Will Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Rachel McAdams, Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson, David Spade, Scott Caan.
Memorable moment: Reese Witherspoon recently left her longtime publicist to be repped by O'Sullivan.
Why she makes the list: In addition to repping A-list talent, O'Sullivan is the head of the West Coast talent team at 42West -- overseeing all staff.
Clients: Jennifer Aniston, Neil Patrick Harris, Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Kirsten Dunst, Anne Hathaway, Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum, Ryan Murphy, Ridley Scott, Jude Law, Matthew Broderick, Annette Bening, Frances McDormand, Sam Mendes, Nathan Lane, Ang Lee, Brett Ratner, Gore Verbinski and Tom Ford.
Memorable moment: Perez Hilton printed a fairly lengthy email Stephen Huvane sent to him regarding how the gossip blogger snarkily reported his client Jennifer Aniston's break up with Vince Vaughn.
Simon Halls, whose longtime partner is 'White Collar' star Matt Bomer, has played a central role in promoting gay visibility within the entertainment industry.
Together, they rep Hollywood's top actors and filmmakers.
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