In an LA Times article on Friday about the media’s desperate need to trash celebrity, Gina Piccalo wrote that the “hunger for celebrity gossip, particularly scandal, has become more insatiable than ever with the viral proliferation of media covering it, from ’60 Minutes’ to Internet bloggers to every cellphone camera owner on the street.” She quoted noted Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman: “I call it the piñata syndrome,” he said. “It’s really about the media. They’re only lifting you up so that they can take sticks and beat you and see what comes out.”
Randy Barbato got hold of Bragman to learn more about this syndrome.
Is there a publication that leads the media pack?
It’s types of publications that lead the media pack – most notably tabloids and internet sources. Many of the famous stories of our time have broken in one of these types of outlets to the point that “mainstream” media can no longer ignore them.
If a client of mine was heading for piñata status?
It’s happened and I have talked to individual clients and members of their team to try and head off problems. Every new client I get, I explain that there is no privacy anymore.
Who’s the next piñata?
It’s not just one person, but there are symptoms to look for – youth, sudden stardom, huge interest by tabloids, and bad behavior in public.
What motivates the media?
Money. The media is a business.
Is the piñata syndrome a good thing?
It hasn’t seemed to hurt Paris Hilton. Yet, I think the fact that she has a strong loving family and a smart management team helps her endure what would be career-breaking for other stars.
After I received Howard’s answers, says Barbato, l sent him a note thanking him and prodding him to diss a little. He responded: “I would say that Lindsay Lohan and Tara Reid are being hoisted high – get the sticks ready. . .” Hmmm, I’m thinking Tara has been cracked a couple of times already! Personally, it seems like Katie Holmes is currently dangling from the tree! Incidentally, I’m thinking we are living in the age of “post-piñata syndrome” – the most broken celebrity wins! (Witness: Being Bobby Brown coming up on Bravo.)
(Photo of Howard Bragman by David Ehrenstein)