When I first heard about bad blood between two major showbiz flackeries, Sitrick and Company and BWR, I was intrigued enough to look into it. Well, it had to do with BWR bringing in crisis specialist Sitrick and Company for representation of Ryan Phillippe, who’s Reese Witherspoon’s soon-to-be-ex, because BWR had a conflict of interest: they represented both actors. So, to avoid any problems, BWR was supposed to handle Reese’s side of the divorce and Sitrick was supposed to handle Ryan’s. Now there’s no love lost between Sitrick and BWR because of a screw-up. Talk about miscommunication: Sitrick didn’t know that BWR had arranged an exclusive with People mag on the Reese-Ryan divorce in its entirety, and BWR didn’t know that Sitrick was not only giving Ryan’s quotes to In Touch mag but also was about to give them to People‘s arch rival US mag. “That could have, and should have, been handled better,” Mike Sitrick candidly told me. And a BWR source huffed: “We would never have approved giving quotes to In Touch even if we had not made the arrangement with People.” Well, thanks to the Britney-Kevin split, and then the TomKat wedding, the Reese-Ryan divorce wasn’t that big a deal. So, since there was no crisis, BWR didn’t need Sitrick working on Ryan’s behalf anymore. But then the New York Post got involved. Guess the paper still bears a grudge for Mike Sitrick’s personal role in the Jared Paul Stern-Ron Burkle scandal — because Page Six raked his PR firm over the coals on this. Last week’s gossip item claimed someone from Sitrick and Company made up quotes and/or planted a fake story during its representation of Ryan, and that the firm was hired and fired over it within a few hours. Both Sitrick and BWR tell me this is wrong. Sitrick said: “During the week or so we represented Ryan, [former MGM PR] David Bloom of our firm — who was a reporter for Variety, Red Herring, the Dallas Times Herald and the Los Angeles Daily News — had a number of discussions with Ryan about media inquiries we were receiving. David told Ryan he believed it was necessary to release a statement to the media. At the end of the discussion, David read the quotes back to Ryan for approval. Ryan approved the quotes and the release of those quotes to the media, though no specific publication was identified by David.” BWR confirmed to me that Sitrick’s office did talk to Ryan and agreed no fakery was involved. Anyway, I like behind-the-scenes showbiz PR stories like this. But it’s a guilty pleasure, because I also wish this much time, trouble and ink were devoted to the crisis in Darfur.
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