“It’s not a question of politics, it’s a question of money”: Will Hollywood take over Johnny Depp? | Johnny Depp
JOhnny Depp can probably thank his lawyers and public relations for suddenly attempting a dramatic public image resurrection, but the question remains whether Hollywood will soon bring him back to the big screen he once dominated.
Following his dramatic victory in the defamation case against his ex-wife and fellow star Amber Heard – although Heard herself also won on one point against her former husband’s agent – speculation is rife that Depp could return to acting, despite his own claims that he has no interest in return to the franchise blockbusters that provided his fortune.
For at least part of that second chance, Depp can thank Matthew Hiltzik, a New York-based public relations executive with a long background in crisis public relations. Unlike Depp’s trial attorneys Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez, who made joint talk show appearances this week after the trial concluded, Hiltzik, 50, has remained, strategically, out of sight.
“If a public relations strategy is by definition to manage relations with the public, then any public relations strategy of Depp cannot be separated from the legal strategy,” said Amber Melville-Brown, head of the American team of public relations. media and reputation at Withers, a prominent law. solidify. “Legal victory in the US libel court is the tool by which he could reclaim his reputation, rekindle the love of all waning fans, recharge him in his industry, and rehabilitate himself in the world.”
With the defamation case now resolved, it is up to Hiltzik to continue the process of rehabilitating Depp’s image to the point that studio bosses and Hollywood’s top directors can no longer deny his commercial potential as a The actor is outweighing lingering reputational concerns – and the many Hear fans are still loudly shouting their anger online.
Hiltzik, whose father is a Hollywood entertainment lawyer, began his public relations career at Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax after working on a listening tour that launched Hillary Clinton’s successful run for the U.S. Senate. He started Freud Communications in the US before launching Hiltzik Strategies in 2008, where his crisis-ridden celebrity clients included Alec Baldwin (ejected from an American Airlines flight), Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte (falsely reported to have been robbed under The Gun Threat in Rio de Janeiro), Brad Pitt after his split from Angelina Jolie and “Crying Tory” TV host Glenn Beck.
Two of Hiltzik’s proteges, Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel, became top White House confidants of President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hiltzik’s PR approach is to be ideologically detached from client bidding.
Depp’s legal and public relations teams, working hand in hand, likely recognized that Depp fans, who had fallen silent after Heard’s initial domestic abuse allegations in 2016, began to intervene after the filing of Depp’s US libel suit three years later.
“Depp’s had a natural fan base and the lawsuit invigorated him, strengthened him and brought other people who were on the fence when they realized it was OK to support Johnny Depp,” Juda Engelmayer told the Herald. PR, a friend of Hiltzik.
Throughout the trial, and for a week-long intermission, public relations on both sides continued their press outreach efforts with the aim of mixing testimonies with positive spinoffs to “close sources”. Heard, unhappy with her initial portrayal, replaced her press team early in the case.
“People were initially reluctant to support the man in a case like this because you don’t want to be the one being attacked on social media for supporting the ‘abuser,'” Engelmayer said. “Until the fans realized they had a base of support between them, and the lawsuit allowed for that, you weren’t seeing a lot of support. Then it snowballed.”
But despite the end of the trial, some of the flaws that were so brutally exposed to the public remain. In the days following the verdict for Depp, the two parties continued their respective campaigns: something that could still worry a Hollywood studio. Depp went on tour with Jeff Beck; joined TikTok to say he was ‘moving on’; and allowed his legal team to report on Good Morning America that Depp may not hold Heard for the court’s $10.35 million judgment.
At every turn, Heard’s lawyers and public relations team have sought to refer the issue to the #MeToo movement. “As Johnny Depp says he ‘goes forward’, women’s rights go backwards,” a Heard spokesperson said last week.
Depp’s star attorney Vasquez hit back Friday in an interview with people magazine“We all believe that women should, and victims – regardless of gender – should come forward and have their day in court…domestic violence has no gender.”
But there is a noticeable change in mood. At trial, Depp’s legal and public relations teams seemed cautious not to dwell on #MeToo or the cancellation. It was left to Richard Marks, the Hollywood deal negotiator, to spell that out. An actor’s reputation, he says, is synonymous with product. “You want a reputation that backs the value you’ve spent creating this product, especially over the past five years, with the #MeToo movement, you wouldn’t want negativity to hire an actor who, in quotes, has been canceled.”
But media and entertainment companies appear to be reassessing Depp and weighing a possible return. Since the verdict, actors and models including Zoe Saldana, Emma Roberts, Patti Smith, Bella Hadid, Helena Christensen and Jennifer Aniston have ‘liked’ Depp’s post-verdict statement to his 25 million Instagram followers saying he was “really humbled”.
Thomas Doherty, author of Show Trial, 1950s Hollywood blacklist and ‘red scare’, says Depp’s trial could be seen as similar to those of Fatty Arbuckle – accused and later cleared of rape and of murder – or Charlie Chaplin – accused of communist sympathies and questioned for his involvement in a paternity lawsuit.
“It’s hard to get your reputation back, and maybe that’s one of the reasons the Depp case has such resonance,” Doherty said. “This fan letter could be a tipping point where you can feel the culture shift.”
But as Hollywood weighs its options, another lucrative industry is already presenting itself: fashion.
The French luxury brand Dior has never abandoned Depp as the face of its Sauvage perfume, and sales are said to be on the rise. Model Kate Moss’s intervention in the lawsuit in support of Depp signaled that the fashion world often takes a different approach.
“Fashion can’t really afford to exile people for very long, because it’s about the constant recirculation and reworking of ideas, images, people, tropes and also pushing the boundaries of the good taste and propriety,” said New York fashion marketing consultant Bonnie Morrison.
Hollywood, many anticipate, may also soon return when the weight of public support evident on social media during the case and now will test Depp in front of a movie theater audience. In some ways, Depp’s behavior during the trial itself was even a kind of hearing. “He was humorous, aloof, made comments or did things that reminded people why they liked him. He was pretty much Jack Sparrow and his fans saw that,” Engelmeyer said.
And, of course, at the end of the day, what really matters to Hollywood is the potential end result. Los Angeles attorney Allison Hope Weiner said, “Hollywood is not about politics. It’s about business and making money. They want to make a product that appeals to the widest audience.
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