Big wet kiss for Allan Mayer

Sure, Allan Mayer is a veteran Hollywood crisis flack with many successes on his resume — but he's not the only one. So what explains this slobbery treatment in Elizabeth Snead's L.A. Times blog The Dish Rag? It comes with a link to the Mayer firm's website — and without mention that he was a central figure in the Grazergate hubbub that has been the year's biggest controversy at the Times. It only led to the abrupt exit of the editorial page editor and lasting reverberations around the paper and the city's media.

Snead writes:

There is only one man who can save Britney [Spears] from herself. Hollywood's Mr. Fix-It, Allan Mayer, the spokesman for her record label, Jive Records, who recently released a statement about her new aptly titled CD, "Blackout"....

Formerly with Sitrick and Co., Mayer is Hollywood's secret weapon for master-minding big studios' movie PR and Oscar campaigns ("A Beautiful Mind," "Da Vinci Code," "Munich") to helping celebs (Halle Berry's hit-and-run, Paula Poundstone's child abuse allegations) handle bad publicity from all sorts of mishaps, mistakes and misdemeanors.

Mayer left Sitrick last year and became a partner at Leslee Dart's 42 West/The Dart Group. He heads up their Strategic Communications Division. Click HERE to read what they do for clients. According to Mayer's office (he's traveling) Mayer has had a longstanding relationship with Jive Records. And he has no plans to help Britney on a personal level. Darn it.

But he's the only one who might be able to help the poor girl get out the hole she's dug herself into. This Sultan of Spin actually might be able to counteract all the damning headlines about her mental state, messy divorce, child neglect, head-shaving, crotch-flashing and that stumbling VMA comeback.

Is it the Yamashiro connection? Mayer is a regular at producer and ex-journo Scott Kaufer's monthly gathering of media types at Yamashiro, which Snead sometimes attends. (The next schmoozefest is this week.) Mayer's competitors are speculating that it's the next shoe dropping from last year's mega-correction in the Times about a Mayer client, the De Beers Group, over a Snead piece for Calendar on the film Blood Diamond. "I can't imagine any reporters or editors inside the paper allowing something this promotional," says another flack. "I'm sure the news side is pissed off."

Last year's correction in the Times:

FOR THE RECORD:

'Blood Diamond': An article in the Oct. 10 Calendar section about controversy in the diamond industry over the film "Blood Diamond," to be released in mid-December, included references to the De Beers Group. De Beers was not given a reasonable amount of time to respond, contrary to The Times' policy. The article referred to De Beers as a cartel that controls the majority of the world's diamonds. There are conflicting statistics over the percentages of diamonds mined and sold by various companies, and a De Beers spokesman says it does not mine and market the majority of the world's diamonds. The article said De Beers was banned from operating in the U.S. for a decade because of antitrust violations, a reference that erroneously combined two 1994 legal challenges: The company was never banned but says its executives chose not to travel to the U.S. after a 1994 indictment charging De Beers and General Electric with industrial diamond price-fixing. De Beers pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to pay a $10-million criminal fine. Also, De Beers was accused of violating antitrust laws in a group of class-action lawsuits in 1994 that alleged U.S. consumers overpaid for diamonds; it settled those lawsuits for $250 million in 2005 without admitting liability. The article also said that De Beers executive Jonathan Oppenheimer asked the "Blood Diamond" filmmakers to add a disclaimer stating that the events portrayed were fictional and that, under the Kimberley Process, so-called conflict diamonds now rarely end up on the market. This request came from the World Diamond Council, not from Oppenheimer or De Beers. The article suggested Oppenheimer was head of the De Beers Group when he expressed concerns about the film in September 2005 to diamond dealers and retailers at an industry convention in Cape Town, South Africa. At the time, he was head of a division, De Beers Consolidated Mines; he is currently a member of the company's board of directors. The article stated that De Beers is exploring for diamonds on land in Botswana that was formerly occupied by the Kalahari Bushmen. That claim is made by Survival International on behalf of the Bushmen, who were relocated by the Botswanan government, which is partnered with De Beers in a diamond company called Debswana. A De Beers spokesman says that while it has explored in the Bushmen's former homeland in the past, it has never mined there and "today has no activity of any sort in the region." The article also referred to a report released by the U.S. Government Accounting Office. Its name is the Government Accountability Office. A letter from the De Beers Group providing that company's perspective was published in the Calendar section on Oct. 14 and can be read online at latimes.com/debeers. A letter from the World Diamond Council appears in today's Calendar section on Page E15.


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