Elliot Mintz has spent a lifetime putting others in the spotlight. Now he is stepping out of the shadows to promote himself.
The L.A. publicity legend will mark his 70th birthday by launching what he calls a “cyberography” – an autobiographical website loaded with 150 hours of material, from his tricks of the trade to tales of such clients as John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Paris Hilton.
“The job of the media consultant is to clean up what gets tainted and to magnify what glows. I thought putting together all this material from my career might interest and inspire some people – plus I’m too lazy to write a book,” said Elliot, who will turn 70 on Feb. 16.
It has been a five-year project to assemble the recently launched site, ElliotMintz.com, at a cost of $100,000 – small change to a media expert who takes on clients from the business and entertainment worlds for $10,000 a month on minimum 12-month contracts. What is perhaps surprising is that he is giving all this material away for free.
“Not everything in life should have a price tag attached to it,” he said. “Offering this for free seemed like a good way of giving back. Plus, among all the other information, the website provides a platform for causes and charities I support.”
Mintz has managed to maintain the support and respect of press, clients and colleagues over his decades calmly navigating the L.A. media scene during various scandals and crisis management situations.
“There is no substitute in life for experience, and Elliot Mintz certainly has a lot of that,” said Robert Earl, chief executive of Planet Hollywood International. “His-high profile client base over the years and the discreet issues that he has had to deal with, advise upon, strategize and oftentimes deflect really summarize the man.”
Mintz outlined the strategy that has served him well:
“Public figures often come to me in moments of crisis. I tell them to speak the truth. If there has to be some spin, they should leave that to their publicist. If something goes south for a client, I call up people in the media and ask them to let me give them another perspective. You can’t lie and you burn contacts if you do.”
One example of showing the press a different perspective to solve a problem came when Kevin Federline hired Mintz to manage the media fallout over his 2006 divorce from Britney Spears.
“As the media descended on K-Fed to paint him as the villain for Spears going haywire, Elliot went on the warpath to save Kevin’s reputation and did so without throwing Britney under the bus,” recalled L.A. entertainment journalist James Desborough, director of Front Page Media.
Others in the field said they have learned from Mintz’s methods.
“He navigates the media with precision, thoughtfulness and a polite demeanor, using honesty, hard work and an ability to think outside the box, which means he consistently gets what he wants for his clients,” said James Weir, vice president of talent at Anderson Group Public Relations, an L.A. firm specializing in crisis and brand management.
Mintz has represented Yoko Ono, his “best friend,” since 1971 and the John Lennon estate since the singer’s death in 1980, but will not name his other clients. He said he is not actively seeking new ones.
“I’ve been in rehearsal for retirement for years, am looking to do less work and don’t want to restore more reputations,” he said.
Worth the price
Speaking at his Mulholland Drive home, Mintz said that a passion for his clients and a determination to work all hours for them is what has made him worth double the rate of many other leading publicists in Los Angeles.
“It goes beyond the paycheck. You have to really and truly care about the person you represent,” he said. “I would do anything, anytime, anywhere for a client I love. Once I was driving to the airport about to take a girlfriend to Hawaii when I received an emergency call from a client who needed my help. I did an immediate U-turn. That’s why I’m single.”
The entertainment business has been a lifelong passion for Mintz.
“As a child I had a chronic stutter, did very poorly in school, was the shortest kid there and didn’t have any friends, he said. “But radio became my friend. Listening to the DJs was therapeutic for me, and later I found great comfort in television, too. Hearing and seeing stars like Elvis liberated me.”
Before becoming a media consultant, he spent 10 years as a radio and television host in Los Angeles, including a spell as entertainment correspondent on KABC’s “Eyewitness News,” interviewing a string of celebrities from Salvador Dali to Jayne Mansfield. Those classic taped interviews, which he has retained in old boxes, are among the archive material on his website, which has a jukebox menu to reflect his love of music. There are also many hours on the site of interviews with Mintz, conducted by Sirius XM Radio DJ Jim Ladd.
There is advice too, from Mintz, for celebrities to stop complaining about paparazzi intrusion into their lives.
“If you are famous and don’t want your picture taken when you go out for dinner,” he counsels, “stay home and order a pizza!”
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