News Column

Hollywood Media Storms Stir Trouble

Sept. 19, 2012

By Bryan Alexander

Tom Cruise

Even the most meticulously laid PR plan for a major movie can be thrown a serious curve.

After Clint Eastwood's address to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention last month, Republicans cheered, Democrats jeered and movie pundits immediately speculated whether the speech would have any effect on his new film, Trouble With the Curve (out Friday).

Eastwood is in good company with other Hollywood stars facing major film releases in the wake of challenging PR conditions. So what's at stake and how will the Hollywood publicity machines handle the situation? A breakdown:

Clint Eastwood A convention 'curve'

In Curve, Eastwood's first starring role since 2008's Gran Torino, he plays a legendary baseball scout trying to prove his worth in the modern world.

Eastwood gamely took questions on the empty-chair speech in interviews and during the film's press conference last Friday.

"I didn't get the response I wanted, because I was hoping they would nominate me," Eastwood joked.

Chuck Walton, editor of, says the comments could attract conservative fans.

"If anything it might galvanize conservatives to go to the movie to support Eastwood," Walton says.

Even those on the political sidelines might be encouraged to attend the movie, Walton says.

"For some, it might have piqued their interest and reminded them they haven't seen Clint in a movie for a while."

Tom Cruise Readying 'Jack Reacher'

Cruise has long had an up-and-down relationship with the movie public. But after a tough period, he displayed true heat with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which grossed more than $200 million.

But the divorce from Katie Holmes and a Vanity Fair expos on the Church of Scientology has Cruise back in the tabloids as his next star vehicle nears -- the high-octane thriller Jack Reacher (opening Dec. 21).

Howard Bragman, vice president of, says, "Tom's success in movies, and his image, have always been on two different paths."

Paramount says the film's full-court Cruise media press will go on.

Says's Paul Dergarabedian: "If the trailer looks really cool, which it does, dudes just don't care. And that's the target audience."

Kristen Stewart 'Breaking Dawn' fallout

Will Kristen Stewart's "momentary indiscretion" with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders have any effect on the final chapter of Breaking Dawn: Part 2, due in November?

"I just can't see a teenage girl saying, 'I'm not going to go to the final Breaking Dawn because of what Kristen Stewart did to Robert Pattinson,'" says Dergarabedian. "The popularity of this franchise is just so baked in, and this is the last chapter."

Perhaps the worst fallout will be at the film's premiere, where the two stars will be on display.

But Bragman says the stars would be best served just talking about Twilight: "Stick to the movie, stick to the project. Keep your eyes on your prize."

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012

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