Studio Owners Try to Seem Reasonable, Like Big Tobacco

Reporter Nikki Finke, who has been closely covering the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, reports that the studio owners' group, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), "during the first days of the strike ... went out and hired Hill and Knowlton, the controversial global public relations and public affairs giant." Finke writes, "Remember that full page ad that ran November 15th in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times? That unsigned ad, titled 'An Open Letter', that was so different in tone from the strident pre- and post-strike statements issued in the name of AMPTP president Nick Counter? ... That ad was not just Hill & Knowton's brainchild, it's the firm's bread and butter." Finke compares the AMPTP ad to the tobacco industry's infamous 1954 "A Frank Statement," which was developed with Hill & Knowlton's John Hill. WGA slammed the AMPTP ad as "misleading," "patronizing," and "guilty of what most charitably could be called sins of omission." Finke asks, "Did Big Media know that it was mimicking Big Tobacco?" In an update, Finke writes, "I received a very strange call today from Hill and Knowlton denying that they're working for the AMPTP even though the CEOs group previously confirmed it to me." Finke also reports that both AMPTP and WGA "wanted to hire former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart as their official mouthpiece." Lockhart, who's now with the Glover Park Group, declined to work for either side.