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How to spin a celebrity scandal

Two PR experts tell us how they’d do damage control on our made-up fiascos

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PR Expert No. 1 is a press agent and record-label exec who has represented artists for more than 30 years

PR Expert No. 2 has worked as a personal publicist to the stars for 24 years

Scenario One
23-year-old Actress X, who plays a clean-cut 16-year-old detective on The Tween Channel’s Nicey McClean Jeans, releases her first direct-to-video movie. Unfortunately, it’s a homemade porno, which was slipped to a producer by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend. Legal action is being pursued, but the tape has already spread through the Internet like chlamydia.

Actress X can easily survive the release of the old cliché ”tragic homemade porno direct-to-video movie” (thpdtvm, as we call it in the trade). As long as she has the suits at The Tween Channel supporting her, stays away from wild partying, and does some red carpets (preferably with a reputable and good-looking guy) where she looks majestic, smiley, and not guilty. No mea culpas necessary. She needed to do something to feed her family of seven little brothers and sisters. Oh, yes, her agent needs to get a great feature film for her, which would be announced as soon as possible, and her press agent needs to buy her a 12-pack of underwear just to be on the safe side.

She would have to do an interview with a reputable, compassionate broadcast journalist for a morning show, like a Good Morning America or The Early Show. We’d need Diane Sawyer or Meredith Vieira. Only a woman! And she’d have to tell the truth: The boyfriend released it, this is a terrible thing, and, you know, she’s horrified that this came out. Because she’s a role model, she’d hope that the youth of America would take notice of what has happened to her and never put themselves in that kind of position. Contrition is always best.

Scenario Two
Oscar-winning Hollywood icon Actor N drunkenly stumbles on stage at the Laugh Factory, wrests the mic from Jon Lovitz, and begins a rambling ”Asians can’t drive” routine that culminates in a protracted mime reenactment of the Korean War. When police arrive to drag him away, Actor N refers them to ”the lawyer who lives in my pants.” His one phone call is to Chuck E. Cheese, where he orders 5,000 pizzas to be sent to the home of Daniel Dae Kim. On top of all this, he appears to be doing a Charlie Chan impression in his mug shot.

It’s tragic that a disgruntled ex slipped a drug into his Diet Coke that night. Nevertheless, he’s got to take the rap because someone caught it on their iPhone. He must get down on his knees to apologize — facing East, of course — and this ought to happen on network TV. I recommend Nightline‘s Cynthia McFadden because she brings gravitas to the table. It’s such a long shot that one can return from this kind of disaster, so an authentic apology is key here. He must also get a new lawyer — preferably Korean. Pay the huge Chuck E. Cheese bill and go on to host the upcoming 2008 Olympics in China — that would be just the right touch.

You’d have to make a public apology to the entire Asian-American community. And do not go back to the scene of the crime! The guy was arrested, so maybe there’s some community service involved. You make sure that’s where he teaches tolerance in the public schools. And a nice antiracism PSA couldn’t hurt either.

Scenario Three

Production on Li’l Mother Teresa comes to a mysterious halt after fun-loving Starlet A shows up late for the fifth shooting day in a row. In statements released to the press, she cites creative differences, but the producers and crew publish their own account in a full-page Variety ad, describing her tardiness, mood swings, and charming habit of stopping scenes to gargle Robitussin-tinis. The producers don’t want to fire her — they’d rather shame her into shaping up — and she really needs the job: It’s a prestige picture with Oscar potential.

Didn’t her press agent warn her to stay away from Robitussin-tinis and Järmeister? Starlet A better realize that there’s a long line of ingenues right behind her. Enough with the cocktails. Yoga, Pilates, triathlons, nutritionist, facials, Kaballah — the healthy route to get the serotonin to kick in. Befriend absolutely everyone on the set — homemade cookies (not laced with hash) for cast and crew. Updates on her astounding turnaround are reported hourly. Otherwise, it’s back to conducting tours for Homes of the Hollywood Stars.

I’d send her to Betty Ford, and come out publicly and say that’s where she is. You get a jet, and get her on that plane if you have to take her there yourself. If I have to, I will drag her by her ear to rehab. When she goes back into production, I wouldn’t allow any press on the set because she has to ”focus on her work.”

Scenario Four
A reputable paper reports that Lloyd’s of London will not insure the next movie starring aging action sensation Hunk B. The whispered reason: Last year, Hunk B underwent an experimental Swedish ab transplant, where abs from a really smokin’ mountain goat were used to replace Hunk B’s sagging six-pack. The procedure can have significant side effects, including sudden death, dry mouth, and horns. Hunk B’s last two movies have faltered at the box office, and this could be the final nail in his coffin. Making matters worse: It comes out that the goat is a lady, and she’s talking. Barbara Walters has the exclusive.

One word: Oprah. Nothing to be ashamed of. Be proud. Show off those abs (think Kirstie Alley modeling her new bod). Talk about the pain of the surgery, the sacrifice for the craft — not unlike an actor gaining 50 pounds for a role. The goat can develop another six-pack with the right personal trainer, which Hunk B has already agreed to pay for, along with a fabulous cottage in Beverly Hills that he also purchased for Ms. Goat.

An experimental what? Medically, that can’t even happen! The guy should run for cover because the PETA people will be all over him! Run for cover!