September 29, 2022 4:04 am
Remembering a relentless publicist, never too proud to beg

Remembering a relentless publicist, never too proud to beg

NEW YORK (AP) — Some 15 years ago, while working on a story about the New York Post’s famous Page Six column, I needed some perspective on the gossip industry.

So I sought out Bobby Zarem, who’d by then spent more than 30 years as a tireless, relentless entertainment publicist, with a client list that read like a Who’s Who of a certain era: Cher, Diana Ross, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Ann-Margret, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and more.

Zarem described the delicate dance of placing gossip items — how one greases their wheels by offering juicy tidbits that aren’t related to clients to keep the door open. He said that if you are intelligent, it’s never discussed.” However, he explained how the delicate dance of getting gossip items placed — how one greases the wheels by offering juicy tidbits unrelated to clients, just to keep the door open.

How does one do this? He patiently replied, “Literally.” “I say, ‘I’m asking you Zarem. Although he may have been proud of himself, his clients are never too proud to ask.

Robert Myron “Bobby” Zarem died on Sunday at 84, a decade after leaving one beloved city, New York, for the other, his native Savannah, Georgia, where he spent his final days at home, surrounded by friends and family. Bill Augustin, a longtime colleague, said that the cause of death was complications from lung cancer.

Anonymous to the general public but well-known to entertainment insiders, he was a colorful character who earned many different titles over the years, including Superflack. PR legend. Storyteller. New York booster. Never forget a friend — and certainly not an enemy. Nurses can hold grudges.

Perhaps former tabloid gossip writer Joannna Molloy put it most colorfully: Zarem, she said, was “more connected than a set of Deluxe Lego.”

In an interview this week, Molloy described Zarem in a way that made her analogy, which she first came up with in the ’90s, doubly meaningful. Although Lego bricks can be connected, they are also difficult to disassemble. Zarem was more than just a superficial connection to the stars, she stated. She said that Zarem was close friends with Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson. “These were real friendships.”

For Pacino, Zarem was also a role model — by which we mean he played a role modeled on Zarem; a disheveled, indefatigable press agent with a southern drawl in the 2002 film aptly titled “People I Know.”

“Sometimes an actor is lucky enough to actually get to know the person first-hand he is portraying in a film,” Pacino told The Associated Press this week through his publicist, Stan Rosenfield. “I was lucky. I got to know Bobby Zarem.”

Zarem’s client list blended to such an extent with his friend list that it’s hard to separate them. A statement by the Gamble Funeral Service, Savannah, described them as close friends. This included Lauren Bacall and Catherine Deneuve, Mick Jagger, Gregory Peck and George Segal.

Zarem was more than a booster for people. He was also devoted to his cities. He was instrumental in promoting the Savannah Film Festival. He sent out endless invitations and pitched the festival. He also worked to make the city a tourist destination with John Berendt’s true crime novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil .”

” Zarem often described how he created the slogan “I Love New York”. Other people played important roles in the ad campaign’s success. Zarem told the AP he had the original idea. After that, an ad agency added the “heart” logo.

Fittingly the anecdote involves Elaine’s on the Upper East Side. This was a place he used to frequent religiously. He said, “I was walking back from Elaine’s Saturday night.” “You could have rolled down the street with a coin and nobody would have stopped it. The city was in peril. He said that something had to be done.

He is well-known for hosting star-studded birthday parties as well as events such as the extravagant party for “Tommy,” which was filmed by Ann-Margret and for which a subway station in Manhattan was purchased.

He was also credited with introducing Woody Allen to Mia Farrow, before it became something more difficult to deny. It happened at Elaine’s as well.

Born in Savannah on Sept. 30, 1936, Robert Myron Zarem attended Andover and then Yale, and worked briefly in finance before getting into publicity with producer Joe Levine and then the PR firm Rogers & Cowan. In 1974. he started his own company.

He chose to stay in New York, even though others may have left for Hollywood. Molloy attributes that in part to an instinct for what would best serve his clients: “He understood that the New York tabloids drove the morning shows.”

Zarem was also a huge opera and theater fan. Molloy said that Zarem was a music and theater fan. He, like many people in entertainment and media, considered himself a good friend. (Disclosure) I met Zarem through his New York farewell party. We shared a few meals together and became friends.

Zarem was a friendly, affable man. However, he had a tendency to harbor grudges. Famously, he fought bitterly with Liz Smith, the columnist.

Richard Johnson of the New York Post recounted at Zarem’s farewell party how he had once received a furious call from the publicist after a gossip item was delayed, “a withering tirade, full of so many four-letter words it would make a sailor blush.”

Richard Johnson, of the New York Post, recounted at Zarem’s farewell party that he received a furious phone call from the publicist after a gossip article had been delayed. It was “a withering tirade full of so many four letter words it would make an sailor blush .”

One might think that Zarem might have anecdote regarding Donald J. Trump in almost a half-century of New York. It is not a mistake.

Zarem told South Magazine about Trump’s call in the real-estate years. “He called me back in August or September of 1978.. He said that it was six months since I had launched the “I Love New York” campaign. Zarem said that he walked in to me and said, “Bobby. Every cent I’ve made is because you .'”

” I didn’t think too much about it.”


Associated Press Writer Michael Warren in Atlanta contributed to this story.