THE BLOG
02/15/2013 04:02 pm ET Updated Apr 17, 2013

Beck Lee: The Weird and Wonderful St. Jude of Entertainment Publicists

Beck Lee is a New York-based writer, producer and promoter who in 1996 founded Media Blitz, a public relations and marketing firm for film, theatre and music. He's been described as "something of a marketing genius" by NPR's "On the Media" which means that if you're involved in presenting some quirky production or event that desperately needs publicity, Beck will somehow, someway save the day. Beck is a handsome, congenial, perpetually smiling soul, who doesn't shy away from representing marginal, off-beat and in some cases totally unpublicizable shows, referred to in the industry as dark-horse hits, because they appear out of nowhere with nary a star in sight. What distinguishes Beck's dark horses? Beck's persistent devotion and faith in them. He's the Broadway Danny Rose of PR, giving his all to make sure that the off or off-off-Broadway equivalents of a one-legged arthritic tap dancer gets properly mentioned in The New York Times.

Media Blitz's current client roster includes The Metropolitan Room, a popular Chelsea jazz/cabaret club, International singing star Barb Jungr and The Barrow Street and the Origin Theater companies. His most miraculous work has been for The National Yiddish Theatre -- Folksbiene, whose anything-they-do productions, usually performed in Yiddish, are fully covered by mainstream media thanks to Beck, who isn't Jewish. As for his glorious past clients, there's The First (and Last) New York Croatian Film Festival, which sent him a crate of films that were different than the ones he was told to promote and when he questioned the changes, told him, "What did you expect? This is Croatia," and Rasputin, a notorious Russian night club in Brooklyn with great Vegas-style floor shows, where "I was lucky to get out of that place alive though I think I lost my virginity and my wallet," -- not necessarily in that order. Other offbeat Off-Broadway projects that succeeded thanks to Media Blitz's promotional wiles include Sideshow Maven Todd Robbins' Carnival Knowledge, The Countess," and Grandma Sylvia's Funeral, which Beck kept running off-Broadway for four years -- long enough for every one of Sylvia's heirs to sue her estate for being left out of her will.

How did Beck keep a dead Jewess in everyone's consciousness? One way was by hiring Andy Krents -- now the Andrew Krents, Esq. who represents mostly gangstah rap artists -- to drive around town in an air-conditioned hearse with marching orders from Beck to break down in busy neighborhoods, and offer free rides to celebrities. Did any boldface names respond to his Yoohoos? Only the late, lamented, very fiscally responsible Mayor Ed Koch and the very visible and present bandleader Paul Shaffer. "Andy was not technically a publicist when he drove the hearse, though he worked under my supervision and I subsequently recruited him to work for me. I think he could have become the best, if only he'd learned how to write down phone numbers accurately and be on time."

Beck's latest mishegas began in October 4, 2012 when Keith Boynton and Mike Lavoie of Crazy Lake Pictures came to his office to discuss their new movie, Chasing Home, which they explained was the world's first speedfilmmaking feature film. They described how they had made the film from start to finish in a preset four-week period in August, 2012 in Utah -- writing, casting, filming, editing and scoring it, with Mike playing the lead; how they raised the film's total cost of $30,000 with a third coming through www.kickstarter.com. Eventually they mentioned the film's forthcoming world and east coast premiere.

Where? "At the Gotham Screen International Film Festival," they replied. When? "Uh, Sunday," Mike and Keith said, clearing their throats. Fuhgedaboutit!

But Chasing Home's West Coast premiere at the Tucson Film and Music Festival was set for October 14, ten days hence. Piece of cake! In a flash Beck had an idea of creating the world's first speed PR campaign for a film and decided to ask his old friend Andy Krents to come out of his 10-year-plus public relations retirement to show Tucson what a fast-talking Manhattan press agent could accomplish in a day. With no advance warning, just cameras rolling, Beck, Keith and Mike showed up at Andy's West Village apartment, which he shares with his wife, the best-selling chicklit novelist Jennifer Belle. Beck's plan? To sic Andy on the Tucson media for an entire day!

Beck loves Andy. "Andy devours newsprint. He's a media junkie and he remembers everything. I promised them he'd know someone in Tucson. Sure enough, within an hour Andy remembered that he knew a morning DJ vaguely. He had her cell number." By the end of the day, Andy got Chasing Home mentioned on a morning TV show there, got it blog citations, guaranteed that a scheduled radio interview would be substantive, brought it to the attention of the Arizona Star Newspaper, and set a new world record for unanswered phone calls. How did he rate his work? Both Andy and Beck gave Andy an 8, which they moved up to a 10 after they listened to the radio interview and heard that 30 people had attended the screening.

Chasing Home is a family drama about four siblings who get together for the first time in years to find their suddenly missing father, a journey that takes them to unexpected places and forces them to confront their feelings about their father and each other. It's nicely done and looks very professional. The score is terrific and so are the acting, dialog and camera work. However, it has a typical Indie film lack of action. Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger will be not outbidding each other for the rights to the prequel or sequel. But it is worth checking out. You'll find it at www.crazylakepictures.com

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