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In publicity, less is Moore

Published Sep. 16, 2005

Demi, body builder. Demi, feminist philosopher. Demi, striptease artist. Demi, comedian. Demi, George Washington.

There is, it seems, no end to the ways Demi Moore can be packaged, pitched and promoted for her new movie, the title of which is (need we even mention) Striptease. If you feel as if you've been gazing at the actor for months, that's because you have.

One appearance on David Letterman in January, with Moore showing off her rock-hard bod, was enough to send ripples of coverage through the media. Creating aftershocks was an interview with Barbara Walters that aired before the Academy Awards, in which Moore discussed the empowering virtues of her $12-million salary for playing Erin Grant, a mother who turns to stripping to pay legal fees in a custody battle.

For the film's marketers, the Walters interview was a coup. "We decided that this would be a great springboard for the publicity, to make it an event," says John DeSimio, senior vice president for publicity at Castle Rock Entertainment. "What better way to do it?"

For months, the public's appetite has been whetted _ soaked is more like it _ to watch Moore take it all off. Castle Rock "sneak previewed" the trailer on Entertainment Tonight during the March sweeps, then got coverage on ET and Extra! over a non-controversy involving a request by the Motion Picture Association of America to revise the demi-naked-Demi promotional poster. Castle Rock gave "exclusive clips" to those shows plus E! and CNN during the May sweeps.

Moore is on the cover of George posing as the Father of Our Country; a brief discussion between her and Carl Hiaasen, author of the book on which the movie is based, awaits readers inside. She is scheduled to appear on the covers of W, People and Interview in the next couple of weeks; the last is the only publication to which she has given an interview. And there are the myriad non-cover magazine appearances, like the feature in Marie Claire about body makeup.

And now for the amazing part: All of this publicity has come without journalists having seen the movie, which is in post-production. "What's sad is we don't have the film," laments DeSimio. "It will be our best ambassador, but it won't be ready until about 10 days before the (June 28) release." Actually, that clip of Demi wickedly ripping off her shirt as she strides down the catwalk has served pretty well.

Was all of this attention the result of a calculated strategy, or dumb luck with a sexy star? "The publicity of films often take on a life of their own," says Martin Shafer, president of Castle Rock Pictures.

But that seems pretty hard to believe, especially with publicity kingpin Pat Kingsley representing Moore and the film. "Look, this isn't brain surgery we're doing here," Kingsley says candidly. "There is a heavy interest in Demi playing this character. Striptease is not a difficult movie to publicize."

Still, it's pretty impressive to get a star on the cover of a magazine ahead of a film's openingwithout that star granting an interview. Just for the record, Moore will not do any U.S. print interviews before the movie opens, because she, like many other A-list actors, has grown increasingly reluctant to submit to the barbs of print journalists, say Kingsley and Shafer.

A two-day press junket next week will be for electronic and international media only.

And frankly, Shafer says, "Striptease just doesn't need any more help."