12:50 AM: Now Allan Mayer says: “I resigned the UA account on July 15. Since then, I have been representing Paula Wagner personally.” However, I’m hearing 42West never told MGM/UA told about this incredible conflict of interest, especially considering how it played out this week. (See below for the full story.)
12:30 AM UPDATE: Now Allan Mayer is claiming on the record that there’s no way MGM/UA could fire him, as he resigned the UA account a month ago. He provides as proof this email he sent:
From: Allan Mayer
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 4:58 PM
To: Elliot Kleinberg
Subject: Our engagement with UA
Per Paragraph 3 of our engagement agreement, I am hereby notifying you that 42West has decided to withdraw from its ongoing assignment as communications consultant to United Artists. We appreciated the opportunity to help get the studio launched, and we wish you the best of luck in the future.
Just one problem with this news: That’s not what he said Monday or Wednesday when I repeatedly asked him whom he was representing in the MGM/UA/Paula Wagner story since he had very deliberately inserted himself into the dialogue with Hollywood journalists reporting on it. And Mayer, reluctant at first, finally said he repped UA and Paula. But he failed to tell me that he had resigned the UA account and was now flacking for just Paula. (Mayer just apologized to me for that.) MGM/UA also tells me that Mayer is still getting paid.
But here’s the bigger PR issue: Mayer has potentially threatened 42West’s profitable PR-client relationship with MGM. As an MGM/UA insider tells me: “MGM is one of 42West’s biggest accounts and functions day-to-day almost as MGM’s East Coast office. And partner Amanda Lundberg and her team handle the majority of MGM’s theatrical publicity release campaigns. Yet Allan is spending his time bashing the company. How can 42West justify that this guy down the hall is doing this?”
11:30 AM: It’s all well and good to try to spin Hollywood reporters against MGM on the Paula Wagner-out-at-UA story (successfully with Los Angeles Times‘ Patrick Goldstein, unsuccessfully with Hollywood business journalists like myself whose stories were far more complex and balanced), but the entertainment flackmeister doing it might first want to look at who’s paying a goodly portion of his company’s PR bill. I’m told 42West’s head of strategic communications Allan Mayer is in a heap of trouble at MGM/UA and is about to lose his gig as outside corporate mouthpiece for UA now that Paula Wagner is no longer in charge. Mayer is acting all tough guy about it, telling people that it’s not true he’s about to be fired, because he and 42West resigned the account a month ago, and that’s a matter of record, and anybody who suggested otherwise is on dangerous legal ground. To which one insider just told me, “As the day goes by, we’ll see where that legal ground is…” But it may not be very strategic for a flack to threaten to go all legally postal on a Hollywood studio in these tightfisted times. I’d love to detail all the attempts to spin me like a top on the MGM/UA/Wagner story, but I agreed it was all off the record. On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder why there’s not some memo floating around the Los Angeles Times to be wary of Mayer’s 42West division which was responsible for one of that newspaper’s worst internal scandals — Grazergate.
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