And Rob Shuter will no longer be playing the role of Fairy Godmother.
Simpson’s manager dad, Joe Simpson, gave his daughter’s publicist the ax this week, reportedly because he’s quite perturbed about the way Shuter put the spin on his little girl’s burgeoning relationship with Mayer, with a People magazine cover story Aug. 31 touting Simpson’s declaration that she was in love eventually turning into an Us Weekly cover pronouncing the singer “Dumped!”
Which must have come as a surprise to Simpson, considering she went on The View this week and announced, “I am actually not dating John Mayer.” (Isn’t it hard enough getting dumped by the people you actually are going out with?)
A source close to the hullabaloo told Radar magazine that the overblown story was “100 percent Shuter. He broke all the rules of the game. He’s a pathological liar. I wonder how much Jessica even knew what he was up to.”
A call to Shuter was not immediately returned. Radar and TMZ.com were the first to report the split.
Meanwhile, the latest issue of Star points the finger at Joe Simpson and an Epic Records executive who allegedly cultivated the romance in the media to add to the buzz surrounding the release of Simpson’s latest album, A Public Affair, which ended up moving about 95,000 copies its first week out.
An Epic spokeswoman called the accusation “ludicrous.” Joe Simpson also denied having a hand in the hype.
I have exactly zero Jessica Simpson fans who read this site. But I do think a few PR people do, and that’s who this item is posted for. Do you worry about the reputation of your profession? No? Maybe this story will get you to re-think.
What I see is this: Jessica Simpson has a new CD. They want people who favor this kind of music to know about it, to embrace it passionately, and to rush right out and buy it, so the album has a chance to hit #1. They’ve obviously decided that Simpson’s romantic ups and downs are what captivate her potential fan base — young girls who still think life can be a fairy tale. As the reviews make clear, this album is supposed to represent Simpson putting “her marriage far, far behind her…(and) out to have nothing but a good time.”
So her publicist, perhaps with her father’s cooperation, concocts a story about a budding romance with a heartthrob pop star — one who has a bit more artistic credibility than her ex-husband, just to rub it in. They hope girls will rush out and buy the album not because they love the music, but for clues to Simpson’s emotional state. The false story is planted the same week the CD is released.
The scam worked — well, nearly. The CD debuted at #5 on the Billboard charts (with the #1 slot going to Bob Dylan, which is another story). But the ploy has blown up — in part because the two alleged lovebirds finally got around to denying statements being put in their mouths in 40-point type on hundreds of thousands of newsstands around the world. People are pointing fingers and being accused of lying to the press. A prominent publicist gets fired. And the children are listening.
So, PR executives, answer me this: What upcoming experience with the PR industry is going to make these teenage girls less cynical about it? If they start out at age 13 associating PR with lies, what will come along later to disabuse them of this notion?
This is not the first time publicist Rob Shuter is accused of lying, by the way. Readers of Gawker and other gossip sites know his name well from his work for Paris Hilton, placing an allegedly false story on Page Six of the N.Y. Post. (Whose idea it was is a matter of dispute between Shuter and Hilton.) Hilton is no longer Shuter’s client; he was apparently replaced by Elliot Mintz.
Mulling over this kind of PR practice, it does become clear why Elliot Mintz is so successful. He’s credible. He’s succinct. He’s prompt. He’s focused on his task. Mintz is not trying to market Paris Hilton. His job is to protect her reputation, and limit the damage that her antics might cause her. Mintz, I suspect, would have no part in a scheme to plant a false story. It is ironic that someone with his hipster background is working with Paris Hilton, and that’s why I like writing about him. But it should be said that today’s Mintz does his job honorably and professionally; a point driven home by observing the Simpson stunt’s embarassing crash and burn.