Even the publicists involved with lion-killer Dr. Walter Palmer need crisis managers.
The backlash against the dentist who shot beloved African big cat Cecil has become so thermonuclear that public relations specialists are clamoring to distance themselves from the mess.
On Tuesday, hours after news broke that the doc had apparently illegally killed the Zimbabwean lion, Spong PR agency frantically tweeted, “To confirm, Spong does not represent Walter Palmer. Please direct all media inquiries to Jon Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Unwilling for the buck to stop with him, Austin did his own damage control, also posting to Twitter, “Yesterday another PR firm asked (sic) to help distribute Dr. Palmer’s statement. Having completed that task, we’ve ended our work on this issue.”
Doug Spong, founder of Spong PR, tells Confidenti@l that he got mixed up in the situation accidentally because the disgraced dentist happens to be a neighbor and asked him to recommend a crisis PR consultant.
“This has not and will not be a client of ours, so please do not associate my name or our firm’s name with this issue at all,” Spong said.
The flack tells us he pointed Palmer in the direction of crisis publicist Austin and quickly washed his hands of the bloody matter.
It’s not clear whether Palmer has managed to find an agency willing to take on his case.
Maybe he shouldn’t get his hopes up. Industry website PR Week surveyed its professional readers, asking, “Would you rep the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion?” The site reported nearly 90% said they’d turn him away. “The PR community has been in universal agreement that this crosses an ethical line,” it said. “Many believe no amount of PR can fix the damage caused by Palmer’s own actions.”
Confidenti@l has also discovered that print publications in which Palmer advertises are beginning to run for the hills as well. National beauty publication New Beauty, which ran ads for his Minnesota practice, River Bluff Dental, has severed ties with him.
As if anyone were in any doubt about the trouble Palmer’s business is in, you know a brand has become radioactive when magazines won’t take its money.
“NewBeauty became aware of Dr. Walter Palmer’s personal activities this morning as it began surfacing in the press,” the mag posted on Facebook last week, when the scandal broke. “We are equally as disappointed in what transpired, and we have ceased all advertising ties with him and his business.”
OMAR ENJOYS GREAT WEATHERS
French superstar Omar Sy, starring in the film “Samba,” now at the Paris Theatre, and as a raptor trainer in “Jurassic World,” attended a recent Q&A at L.A.’s Landmark theater and spotted his acting hero Carl Weathers in the audience. “They got to meet and it was a big deal for Omar, who is a huge fan” of Weathers (who played Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” movies), says one spy. Sy took to Twitter with a pic of the two, saying: “Thanks to THE man @TheCarlWeathers 4 coming 2 support @sambamovie tonight in LA I’m such a fan!”
TOUGH SPELLING TEST
A makeup-free Tori Spelling stopped by Rite Aid in Calabasas, Calif., with her daughter, looking worse for wear. The “Beverly Hills 90210” actress had a long bandage covering her right arm after suffering severe burns from falling on a hot grill in a restaurant four months ago. Spelling, still healing, also headed to the Daily Spa in Calabasas for some much-needed R&R.
A PRETTY COSTLY JAX GLOVE AFFAIR
One of Michael Jackson’s iconic white sequined gloves sold for $64,850 at auction. The glove — a key to Jackson’s iconic stage presence — had been a gift from The King of Pop to Paul Bedard, his “personal artist,” who painted the singer’s portrait. Bedard had sold the glove to a private collector in 2005. The starting bid in the sale by Nate D. Sanders Auctions was $20,000.
‘HOUSE’ PALS MAKING REAL DOUGH
Real-life best pals and co-stars on “Playing House,” Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, celebrated the start of the second season of the USA network’s show with a cupcake party. The pair took a master class in decorating the treats at Georgetown Cupcakes, where they learned how to make fondant-shaped hearts, perfect the famous bakery’s signature swirl and decorated a dozen cupcakes each. Season two premieres Tuesday.
BIRKE FINALLY GETS INTO THE ACT
Mistress America” star Lola Kirke could’ve been the next Lindsay Lohan. The 25-year-old actress, who’s the younger sister of “Girls” star Jemima Kirke, wanted to be a child star, but had to pay her dues and graduate from Bard College first.
“When I was 11, I had a brief stint as a wannabe child actor and I auditioned for a film for Doug Aibel, casting director extraordinaire, and I guess he remembered me, and after my child acting dreams faded,” she told us at a Crosby Hotel screening of the film.
Aibel kept Kirke in mind, then cast her in the film along with Seth Barrish and Greta Gerwig. While she loved the experience, it was a far cry from a posh, big-budget production.
“There were none of the superfluities of filmmaking, as they might say — like a craft services table or a trailer or makeup,” she said. “Our DP (director of photography) did my makeup, and that consisted of him prodding my pimples with a concealing wand and making them worse.”
No one is going to call Kirke a diva.
“I actually like my makeup in this movie, though, because I think it’s very natural,” she said. “In a lot of bigger films, they spend two hours making you look natural, but I can still see my powder or whatever. … (There) was this kind of wonderful balance of high art and group or collective filmmaking.”
GARNER’S CALL MAY BE BREAKING UP
Jennifer Garner is feeling the strain of her divorce from Ben Affleck. The actress, on a break from filming her new movie, “Miracles From Heaven,” in Atlanta, was spotted having a tense conversation on the phone with someone while still wearing her wedding ring. Garner reportedly discovered Affleck having a fling with their nanny, Christine Ouzounian, and then fired her.
RICHIE GOES NEW WAVE
Nicole Richie, above, now out promoting VH1’s “Candidly Nicole,” looks amazing as she gives a wave from the lot of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in Los Angeles.
ARNOLD, MARIA at B-DAY BASH
Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated his 68th birthday with ex-wife Maria Shriver. It wasn’t a date — their daughters, Katherine and Christina, joined the duo for the outing at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. After the meal, Ah-nuld threw on his shades and drove off in his silver Bugatti.
BLUME JOINS IN DENTIST DRILLING
Judy Blume couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, who’s been lambasted around the world for killing African lion Cecil. “My father was a dentist — a good dentist, not like that a–hole who shot that gorgeous lion,” Blume told The News’ Nicole Lyn Pesce. The famous author’s latest project is helping a Greenpoint, Brooklyn, couple recover a keepsake copy of her iconic novel, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” that was accidentally tossed in the trash.
BECKFORD MAKES HIS POINT
Tyson Beckford gets a little cocky while hanging outside a club in West Hollywood on a recent night out. The model, clad in a V-neck white T-shirt and a pair of patterned pants, also flipped off the photogs waiting outside — although he seemed to be in good spirits.