Tuesday 21 September 2010

The bull (in designer Bvl Gari's sunglasses and smoking Cubans) has finally left the china store. Let the press launches begin


The bull smoked Cuban, sported Bvl Gari's signature purple sun glasses, had tail hair done by England's Stuart Phillips and was followed by every single reporter, blogger, videographer, photographer and autograph seeker in the Free World. And now, finally with the Toronto International Film Festival out the door, the bull has stomped out of the shattered tea shop leaving local publicists to clean up the mess and try to get the PR machine back to normal.
While TIFF rolls through Toronto PR people in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe always have to stop and hold their breathe. Forget trying to get publicity if you aren't peddling movie stars, book-into-movie deals, directors, made-for-TV films and did we mention movie stars?
For two weeks in September the newsrooms are empty. Every reporter, photographer and videographer is out on the street working TIFF assignments. Doesn't matter what beat. Sports reporters find out which stars went to see the Blue Jays, Foodies file stories on what the Stars are eating, Business reporters talked about the economic impact, and, well you know the drill.
For publicists not working the TIFF beat it is a hard go. Doesn't matter how good/new/unique/fascinating your project, NO ONE will listen. ( I gave up and took a writing assignment and went shark diving in Nassau during the last week in TIFF).
Toronto's cultural attractions know about the black hole media draw of the bull in the china shop and for the most part postpone all PR events until after the TIFF. Good philosophy, except that the week following TIFF -- this week -- is almost as busy as it was during the actually Film Festival.
I have attended and/or been involved with 5 major PR activities this week ... and I write this Wednesday morning at 9am. The rest of the week looks equally busy!
What I have attended this week!
Nuit Blanche Camera in hand I covered the Monday morning outdoor Nuit Blanche News Conference. Scotiabank Nuit Blanche celebrated its past and kicked off its fifth year with the unveiling of Some Enchanted Evenings, a 5th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition presented by Scotiabank featuring photos, videos and previously mounted works from the 2006-2009 editions of the free all-night contemporary art event.

As pressers go, this was a good one. Rita Davis (the city's director of culture), Mayor David Miller, and Scotiabank VP Duncan Hannay. There was some real news - Yonge Street will be closed down for Nuit Blanche, the TTC has a special $10 24-hour pass for up to 6 people per card and a lot of interesting sounding projects slated for October 2nd - 6.57pm to sunrise in downtown Toronto.
It is the unscripted events at a presser that often times get the biggest laugh. Press conference for Nuit Blanche held outside, just off King Street in front of the Scotiabank Plaza. Half-way through the presser a north wind blew street smells (think raw sewage) into the crowd. Mayor David Miller probably wondered why some people suddenly started holding their noses while he gave one of the most upbeat Nuit Blanche speeches ever given in the festivals 5-year history. A senior Scotiabank official standing beside me looked southward at the bank towers across the street. " Humph" she said, "count on the Royal Bank to try and stink up our moment in the sun!". Smell went away. The media got their stories and it was on to the next event.
The Ontario Science Centre, coming off a strong successful summer season with its Harry Potter Exhibition (no science, just Hollywood) previewed its newest large format Imax movie on Tuesday.

Legends of Flight, brought to you by Canadian director Stephen Low (of Titanica fame - first Imax movie about the Titanic). The posters make it look as though this is a movie about the historyof flight, but, it is actually a documentary about the struggles Boeing Corporation is having in bringing the new technology (no aluminum, just carbon fibre) 787 Dreamliner to market. As a former Litton Systems Canada PR person (they built nav systems for the military and commercial avionics industry) I was moved by the scenes of gliders, jet fighters and super-sized passenger planes appearing on screen.

If I have any criticism it is over Low's heavy use of CGI technology, it takes the joy out of enjoying a film when you realize the Harrier jets that are shown escorting a Cdn destroyer were created by CGI. Although the film's producer, Pietro L. Serapiglia, says that Boeing did not cover the costs of this 4-year long film project, they are going to love this 45-minute large format explanation as to why they are over 2-years behind on deliveries (800+ sold, 0 delivered). I would suspect that Boeing is less than pleased that the film compares the shape of the Dreamliner with the Albatross!
The Science Centre brought along Serapiglia and Captain Heather Ross to the Media Preview. Ross is a Canadian born Boeing test pilot. She flew 40 missions in the Gulf War, was a pilot for United Airlines and now is one of only a dozen or so people who have actually flown the Dreamliner. What is like to be at the controls of airplane that has 220ft wide bendable wings? "This is a great airplane from a pilot's perspective. IT is very comfortable, and because we can fly at lower altitudes (compared to traditional jumbo gets) there is not as much pilot fatigue."

What have I do so far this week?

* Ross King Media Alert. The Governor General Award winning author will be the star of my media preview to an art exhibition based on his book Defiant Spirits. The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven. Ross is the curator and the author! The preview is September 30th 10am to 12.15. McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Kleinburg. (drop me a note if you want to attend).
* Bruno Bobak: Love, Life and Death September 18 to December 5, 2010. Media launch on Sept 30th. Artist in Gallery on Sunday Oct. 3rd for member's opening (everyone welcome) Minister Chan to open show!
* CTV friends of broadcast journalist Karlene Nation asked me to send out a media alert for Wednesday evening. Which I have done (and you can see on this blog page). Karlene has taken a leave from CTV where she is Diversity Editor. She is running for city council in Trinity Spadina against another media person - councillor Adam Vaughan. The drink fest starts at 7pm but I suspect most of her colleagues will give it pass because the network doesn't like their employees messing in politics.
* Sent out Word on the Street invites to the media. The day-long outdoor book festival runs this Sunday at Queen's Park. Author Elizabeth Abbott will be there all afternoon (so will I)!

Coming Up:
Oregon State is holding a media launch for their winter tourism promotion. The Art Gallery of Ontario is opening a Goodman exhition and the Royal Ontario Museum has an event around its current Terracotta Warrior show. The Sony Theatre is reopening and on Saturday the Aviation Museum is free to the publics.
And for the rest of the week? Media interviews, dinner with a High Tech magazine (for my aerospace work) and followup to the Pan Am Diversity press conference held last week.
Top: Small Stage. Big Show. Mayor David Miller, bank officials, artists and city workers try to find space on the small Nuit Blanche stage
Second from top: Rita Davis at the Nuit Blanche media launch
Third from Top: Two Harrier jets escorting a Canadian destroyer? Never happened. The jets were created through the magic of CGI. Film's maker says the destroyer is real!
Second from bottom: Captain Heather Ross and producer Pietro L. Serapiglia
Bottom: Cover shot of author Ross King's new book.