Let’s say you’re a celebrity in deep media doo-doo. Hollywood crisis PR managers are standing by to smooth over college admissions scandals, doughnut-licking scandals, even the most tawdry sex scandals. Still, how to massage the bizarre allegations against Armie Hammer from ex-paramours? The actor’s career has been in free fall after the New York Post published a series of text messages in which Hammer mused about drinking his ex-girlfriend’s blood and eating one of her ribs. Hammer called the accusations “spurious” and “bullshit.” That didn’t stop WME from dropping him in February or, according to Variety, getting him exiled from two high-profile projects, The Offer and Shotgun Wedding. Hammer’s attorney insists the allegations were created “with the goal of tarnishing” his client’s reputation. Can he bounce back? We asked some of the town’s top spin doctors to weigh in.
Howard Bragman, La Brea Media: “Armie could do what celebrities usually do when they get into trouble—go into rehab; but in his case, the ultimate L.A rehab: you go in a carnivore and come out a vegan. More seriously, he could point out that all these stories were pushed by the New York Post, which isn’t exactly a trusted news source. I think the only time he addressed it, he said it must be a joke—which was the right way to go. Armie needs to go far away from press for a while. And I wouldn’t serve ribs at his next junket.”
Ross Johnson, Johnson Public Relations: “I think its really important for him to directly address this issue. Maybe he should come out and declare, ‘I’m not a cannibal.’ As a performer, he’s a distressed property right now; his agent needs to drop his per-movie quote for a while. I’m sure a lot of producers are calling about that right now! I don’t think Armie’s getting canceled—his brand is probably salvageable—but the low-ballers are coming out. I’d say to him, ‘You gotta calm your act down. Shut down all your social media accounts! Don’t do any press for 30 days. And you might want to rethink serious sex scenes right now.’”
Prominent L.A. crisis manager who asked not to be ID’d: “The first thing with Armie is, if any of these allegations are true, he needs to get help, pronto. I would say to him, ‘Unless you’re committed to getting psychological help, I can’t help you.’ Sex addiction is one thing, it’s another to abuse partners. If he says, ‘All of these stories are bullshit’ and turns out to be lying, all his credibility will be gone. He will get caught—no one can outsmart Google. If he agreed to get help, I’d put a statement out: ‘Armie recognizes he was out of control. He’s sorry he caused pain.’ I’d also call a criminal lawyer to find out if he might need one. Now, if he gets help, after a few months I’d give the recovery story to a very legitimate outlet like the New York Times. The public is very forgiving of an illness—not so much a transgression. He has to recognize the bad example he’s set as a public figure.”