Gawker on PR: What Would Sidney Falco Do?

November 2, 2007


Taking cues on name-dropping from page 12 of the Gawker Guide, I asked Choire Sicha as part of our ongoing Gawker on PR series if he felt–collectively–that Gawker is the J.J. Hunsecker of this century. Rather than run with the baited comparison to Hunsecker–the Walter Winchell character in The Sweet Smell of Success played by Burt Lancaster–he chose to talk about the history of the film, and what lingers from the era of the blacklist. Skip football and rent it this weekend. The flack to Lancaster’s Hunsecker is Tony Curtis’s Sidney Falco, the scrappiest, most bare-knuckle PR person ever portrayed on film. We won’t spoil it for you, but it doesn’t end like Michael Clayton.


PRNewser officially coins the following bumper sticker phrase. When faced with an ethical dilemma, a leak that falls in your lap, or when the wee Devil stands on your shoulder and whispers a bizdev idea (BlinnPR vs. 5WPR) in your ear, ask yourself: “What Would Sidney Falco Do?” We won’t stand on that high a horse to say never to listen. It’s why we’ve been milking this series this long.


BTW, PRNewser is in possession of everything that transpired in Torossian vs. Blinn precipitated by the LongTail blackball list. We’re not sure we’re going to bother mucking around in it.

Did Sicha predict Ronn vs. Blinn when I interviewed him a couple of weeks ago? “Enemies are for destruction”:

I always forget that Clifford Odets came in to rewrite the screenplay for “Sweet Smell of Success.” It was, from all accounts, a production perpetually on the edge of disaster, and the process was terrible for Odets personally. But what genius like that do we have now? And would they be allowed to work, or, at least, to work in such a ragged last-minute manner? Surely not.

Have we not all learned from this decade that there’s no money in art? The one lesson that still lingers from that era is that of the blacklist. Enemies are for destruction. People *enjoy* being evil. Try it! It feels great!


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