One of the premier PR men of his generation, Eddie Michaels, succumbed last night in his lengthy battle with brain cancer and died at age 49. Michaels was surrounded at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by a coterie of industry friends, clients, his wife Lorin and his children, 7-year-old Matthew and 11-year-old daughter Dylan. To see a good guy go so young is heartbreaking to me today. I met Eddie when I had just moved over from Weekly Variety to Daily Variety. I was the Long Island kid who had upset the order of things by breaking film stories that were ordinarily the domain of L.A.-based trade reporters. He called me, riled about some story I’d broken on Allen and Albert Hughes, who didn’t want the details on a project out there because it was not at the studio where they’d made an overall deal, or at least that’s how I remember it. The phone call started out testy — me saying something arrogant like “you can work with me or just get out of my way” — but by the end, I could tell this guy was going to be important to me. And boy, was he ever.
Eddie was something of a throwback to what I imagined those old publicists to be. He ran his own shop, Insignia, forever. He was trustworthy, knew exactly what I needed, or what Claudia Eller needed at the LA Times, or Bruce Orwall at the Wall Street Journal, or any number of other journalists whose jobs he made easier. Our relationship evolved to a shorthand. He also knew exactly where and when to put his clients, not for volume placement, but where a strong piece served them best. He was a calm voice when one of them had a crisis. (more…)