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AT THE MOVIES : WORD OF MOUTH

Limited exposure

Publicizing a film can be tricky when its star becomes news.

March 20, 2008|John Horn and Gina Piccalo | Times Staff Writers

The studio went in another direction nearly a decade earlier. In 1998, Disney was releasing Eddie Murphy's "Holy Man," more than a year after the actor was stopped by police in West Hollywood in May 1997 with a known transsexual prostitute in his Toyota Land Cruiser. (Murphy's publicist claimed his client was just acting as a "good Samaritan" by giving her a lift.) Marketing executives steered reporters away from Murphy, who rarely likes to do interviews anyway, and toward his costars, Jeff Goldblum and Kelly Preston.

The film ultimately flopped.

Just two weeks before the June 1995 release of 20th Century Fox's romantic comedy "Nine Months," Hugh Grant was arrested for lewd conduct with prostitute Divine Brown. Rather than hide, Grant tackled the incident head-on. The next morning, he issued a statement admitting he'd done something "completely insane." Two weeks later, the night before the film's premiere, he took to the talk show circuit as planned, hitting Jay Leno, Larry King, Letterman, "Today" and even "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee."

It must have worked: "Nine Months" grossed nearly $70 million.

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john.horn@latimes.com

gina.piccalo@latimes.com

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