Jillie Mack, Esme Chandlee, Katharine Ross
By Tony Rizzo
The Capital Grill, the swank West Hollywood steakhouse, was the site of a surprise party for the recently retired, top Hollywood publicist Esme Chandlee, who turned 93 that day. Former client Tom Selleck, shooting in New York City on CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” sent his actress-wife, Jillie Mack, to celebrate with her. Selleck said, “To learn what a publicist was from someone of her integrity and professionalism was a blessing.”
Sam Elliott and wife Katharine Ross also are former clients. Sam was in Oregon visiting his 95-year-old mother, so Katharine came to celebrate Esme’s day. Elliott said of Esme, “She’s the most grounded source in an otherwise shaky field. She had the credentials and understood what worked for me, and at the same time for her.”
Former clients Gena Rowlands and Vera Miles both sent flowers. “Burn Notice” executive producer/creator Matt Nix (Esme’s great nephew) and wife, Melinda, toasted her, as did Selleck’s manager, Bettye McCartt, and Hollywood publicist Ron Scott, also having a birthday.
Facing a giant portrait of MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, Esme recalled being summoned to his office, which meant she could be fired, because Colonel Parker demanded Elvis Presley be paid to do interviews at MGM. Mayer said, “If word gets out we paid him to do interviews, we’ll go bankrupt.” Esme told Mayer, “I told the Colonel the only way we could honor such a clause was if he never told anyone of the arrangement.” Mayer said, “I suppose you took his word for that!” Undaunted, she reached into her purse and produced a signed paper, which today we’d call a gag order. Mayer smiled and said, “Esme, as long as I’m here, you have a job!”
There are no Esme Chandlees today … just too many egotistical, inexperienced interns, promoted because of budget cuts, who don’t know what they’re doing!
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Warren Beatty delivered a knockout punch to Tribune Media Services when a judge ruled he could retain the rights to “Dick Tracy.” Beatty starred and directed the l990 film with Al Pacino, Madonna and an all-star cast. Now Beatty has the rights to do the sequel he’s wanted to make for years.
Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962), will be immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp. Sharon Stone will host the ceremony when the stamp drops on April 28. I remember when I waited at The Waldorf-Astoria in New York City to shoot pix of Peck, but couldn’t get near him because he exited the building with President Richard Nixon and was surrounded by Secret Service men. Just my luck, Tricky Dick was a fan of Peck’s and talked his ear off!
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© 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.