Hollywood Publicist/Author Michael Levine turned 55 the other day and somehow thought it would be a good idea to invite his friends over and have us roast him. He may be regretting that decision by now. The rolling party began on Friday night at the home of political commentator Susan Estrich.
The evening was masterfully emceed by comedian/filmmaker/author Adam Christing who kept the roasters moving at a quick pace. From the roasts of attorney Gloria Allred, producer Mike Medavoy, Levine employee Liam Collopy and others, his "flaws" were quickly revealed: Levine's girlfriends are too young, he has too many interns, he's cheap and (gasp) he's a Republican.
I was promised that I'd be given the chance to roast him with my favorite Levine-ism of all time, but my time was taken by an unscheduled roaster so I'll share mine with a few Huffpo readers instead.
(By the way, Michael has recently taken to denying this story, but trust me this is way too good to have been made up)
Around about 1999 or so Michael called me up one day in the dramatic way that only he can. After an intern confirmed that I was indeed Mark Joseph, Michael came on the line and asked me how I was doing and said he had a question for me: Would it be something about nuclear war, abortion, the Holocaust, inflation? I had no idea, but I was ready for any question, except, it turns out, the one he asked.
"The internet," he began. "Do you think it's here to stay? Because I don't think so," he confidently declared.
I assured him that I thought the world wide web was indeed here to stay and that there was no turning back.
He disagreed and told me why -- I can't remember today, but I think it had something to do with the human desire for direct, face to face or voice to voice communication.
But what makes Michael so compelling is that once he realized he was wrong he moved quickly to make up for lost time. I had to laugh when soon after, he started his world famous LBN E-Lert (that's another story) and then, shamelessly, released Guerilla PR Wired-an update of his classic tome Guerilla PR only this time geared for the net generation.
What also makes him great is his ability to laugh at himself and he did lots of that the other night and as for the rest of us, no, we were not laughing with him but at him.
The party continued the next night when a smaller group of us gathered at The Palm for one last hurrah.
Michael is the friend you want in a pinch. He works hard for his clients, is loyal to his friends, and is always, as his old radio show used to be called, a spiritual seeker.
Happy 55th birthday Michael.
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