MTV debuts 'PoweR Girls' series featuring PR flak/socialite Lizzie Grubman
By Wade Paulsen, 03/10/2005
If the measure of fame is getting your name in the paper, then New York City public relations flack Lizzie Grubman is one of the most famous people in the Big Apple. Beginning tonight at 10:30 PM ET, MTV will try to capitalize on Lizzie's fame (or should that be infamy?) with a six-part reality series entitled PoweR Girls that focuses on Lizzie, 33, and four of her protégées at work and play.
Lizzie is far better known for her driving, her "celebutante" partygoing and her powerful family connections than for her PR work. In her best-known misadventure, she backed her Mercedes SUV into a group of people waiting at a Hamptons resort that she represented at the time, injuring the club supervisor who had asked her to move her car from the fire lane and 15 other people. She then fled the scene before police arrived. The supervisor also alleged that Lizzie used "the f-word" toward him and called him "white trash" immediately prior to hitting him.
Although she faced a total of up to 151 years in jail if convicted of all counts, she ultimately served only 37 days in jail (of a 60-day plea-bargained sentence), perhaps as a result of the efforts of the superstar collection of criminal lawyers assembled by her father Allen, the richest and best-known music industry lawyer on the East Coast.
Prior to that incident, people knew Lizzie more for her spoiled-rich-kid indiscretions (e.g., being kicked out of three prep schools) and her socialite ways than for her PR work. Afterward, she needed to hire her own public relations firm, Dan Klores Communications (who also represented "heirhead" Paris Hilton after the best-selling porn tape "One Night In Paris"), to steer Lizzie Grubman Public Relations (LGPR) through all the bad press. PoweR Girls shows where Ms. Grubman's firm is today ... and it's not a pretty sight, even if she still represents artists from Britney Spears to Sean "P. Diddy" (formerly "Puff Daddy") Combs to Ja Rule.
The show features Lizzie and four of her assistants, Kelly, Rachel, Ali and Millie, in their daily PR flow at LGPR, which includes many cringe-worthy moments. Much advance discussion has focused around Lizzie's on-camera attack on "pop tart" actress Lindsey Lohan, who blew off the red carpet walk at the Ruby Falls club opening handled by LGPR in May 2004.
The next morning, Lizzie called up NYC gossip sites such as the New York Post's 'Page Six' and trashed Lohan for sneaking in the side entrance as follows: "Who does she think she is? Even Madonna doesn't do that." In a moment likely to raise questions about whether journalistic ethics should apply to gossip columns, Page Six then ran Lizzie's anti-Lindsay quote verbatim (and anonymously), as if she were a neutral source, not a paid publicist upset that her photo-op plans had been foiled by an uncooperative star.
On the show, Lizzie continues to trash Lindsay: "She's going out every night of the week ... I mean the girl is like Tara Reid." Lizzie may well know quite a lot about Hollywood hellcat Tara. In fact, Tara may have learned a thing or two from Lizzie herself, since she was part of Lizzie's posse on the night of Lizzie's hit-and-run in the Hamptons and was questioned by police during the investigation.
Perhaps as a result of its discomfort over the unflattering exposé of Page Six, the Post reports that other publicists are upset with PoweR Girls as a distortion of the PR industry. In particular, the scenes which showed Lizzie's firm organizing an autograph-signing for Ja Rule, only to have nothing for him to sign when he showed up, and the mass confusion at the opening of Ruby Falls led an unnamed PR person to tell the Post that the show made the firm "look so bad and unprofessional." However, in a sign of how low her reputation already is, another publicist said that PoweR Girls "will probably improve [Lizzie's] image." Each viewer may want to draw his or her own conclusion about that.
And even in her moment of "glory," Lizzie Grubman can't avoid negative publicity. The Associated Press reports that a former employee of LGPR, Brenda Loughery, sued Lizzie on Friday for $6 million, alleging that Lizzie breached an agreement to make Loughery (a 7-year veteran with the firm, who claims that she kept the firm going during Lizzie's incarceration) a partner in LGPR and an associate producer of PoweR Girls. Lizzie's attorney claims that she will vigorously defend the lawsuit. We, however, smell a settlement, especially if PoweR Girls is a hit.