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A doc maker with a spin

Oddly enough, publicist Dan Klores' ability to 'fix' his clients' tarnished reputations coexists nicely with his skill as a documentarian.

April 10, 2005|Choire Sicha | Special to The Times

New York — Kobe BRYANT may have settled out of court with his Colorado accuser, but he still hasn't made good with disgruntled fans and leery endorsers. Yet it's a good bet he'll smell like a gardenia by midsummer: He's just been taken on by Dan Klores, the tough-talking New York publicist and crisis manager. Earlier this week, Klores also picked up former "Sopranos" actor Vincent Pastore, whose fiancee claims he assaulted her on a SoHo street. While Klores also handles corporate accounts such as General Motors, Fox News and New Balance, this is his niche: There's always been a lust in his heart for the uniquely uphill battle of complete celebrity image renovation.

That's why, at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003, it was as if a whole different Dan Klores had co-directed the thoughtful documentary "The Boys of 2nd Street Park." His second documentary airs April 20 on USA Network -- it's called "Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story," and it's an intelligent, careful treatment of the life of the boxer Emile Griffith following his killing, in the ring, of Benny "The Kid" Paret in Madison Square Garden in 1962. Klores sold the rights for a scripted feature of that film, with Scott Rudin as producer, to Sony and Paramount. He's editing another -- "Viva Baseball," which sold to the cable network Spike -- and shooting yet one more. And scheming up another.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday April 10, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Public relations firm -- An article in today's Calendar section says publicist and documentary filmmaker Dan Klores worked for Rubenstein Public Relations. He worked for Howard J. Rubenstein Associates.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday April 17, 2005 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 0 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Public relations firm -- An article last Sunday said publicist and documentary filmmaker Dan Klores worked for Rubenstein Public Relations. He worked for Howard J. Rubenstein Associates.

It's one of the more unexpected double lives in recent Hollywood memory; the fantastical narratives of celebrity damage control seem to demand radically different impulses than those of a good documentarian. Klores had begun filming "The Boys of 2nd Street Park" in 2001, and the PR business certainly carried on: It was, you may recall, Dan Klores Communications and its famed crisis interventions that saved Paris Hilton from her night-vision nightmare.

Klores -- the filmmaking Klores -- operates out of the industrial far-west SoHo area; the office of his production company, Shoot the Moon, and his small editing room are here. On a recent Friday, he sat in the very back corner of Kenny's Coffee House, a greasy spoon nearby, and inexplicably ordered a decaf coffee and a Diet Coke to keep his cellphone, BlackBerry and call sheet company.

His accent is unadulterated Brooklyn, his speech alternately super rapid and thoughtful, often larded with big names that clash with his every-dude manner -- and he was surprised that anyone had been surprised to find him behind the camera.

"I was unaware of this. I was too vain to understand it then. I called people while I was making 'Boys of 2nd Street Park' " -- that first film -- "and I called my pal Jim Dwyer who did that piece in the Times Magazine, I don't know if you read it, and he told me later on, he says, 'Yeah, you know, I was coming up there to see it because, you know, you asked me to, but I was sort of like, what ... is this?' And then I have a friend who's the editor of Paper magazine, you know, and he said the same thing -- he wrote it! And I was saying, how can they think that?"

How couldn't they? Watching Lizzie Grubman hiss and spit her way through her MTV reality show "PoweR Girls" has only cemented our impression of publicists. And at a small, friendly, Manhattan screening of "Ring of Fire" a week previous, there was every publicist's living cautionary tale, blond Grubman herself, standing outside the theater smoking and cackling with friends.

"Everyone turned down 'Viva Baseball.' Typical show business...." Klores said. "Cuz it wasn't theirs.... 'Ring of Fire' was turned down by a network that was a natural for it cuz it wasn't the guy's idea."

He knows, however, how to get what he wants -- for example, the presentation of "Ring of Fire" is USA's first commercial-free film broadcast. "In the beginning, I was saying this film would work a lot better without commercials. I don't like the idea of commercials. And that's all I said. But I said it enough."

But I said it enough. Let's be honest: Disparate as they may seem, the two lives of Dan Klores coexist happily, although bringing the publicizing talents of a Klores to bear on this small, tasteful documentary is like using a nuclear bomb to clean the john. Somehow, "Ring of Fire" has not been out of the news since Sundance, and while Hollywood is certainly swimming in fantastic documentaries, that's not because it's riding that crest. The film gets name-checked in Page Six and in the trades, and it's kept alive in the mind of the marketplace. And Klores doesn't face, in the slightest, the financial challenges that beset nearly all other documentary filmmakers (in fact, he said, he recently turned down the job of "CEO of a major sports and entertainment entity").

So he's had a leg or three up, but still: Why, or how, isn't Dan Klores a pig? And why has he waited until this second act to prove that?

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