JetBlue Guy: Hollywood’s Most Wanted
It was revealed Monday that controversial JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater had — but of course! — enlisted a Hollywood publicist.
Slater’s flak? The high-profile Howard Bragman, who’s known for his representation of instant celebrities such as Monica Lewinsky and Oksana Grigorieva and of many gay celebrities including Meredith Baxter and Martina Navratilova.
In an exclusive interview with THR, Bragman was quick to point out that Slater didn’t hire him to come out publicly; the flight attendant is openly gay with a boyfriend. “I know that people find the concept of a gay flight attendant shocking, but it’s true,” Bragman joked. “The fact that I’ve represented many gay clients merely helped Steven feel comfortable working with me. We actually went together last weekend to Las Vegas to see Barry Manilow.”
Although Bragman believes that Slater has the potential to have more than 15 minutes of fame, he said his first job is to help his client deal with the pending criminal charges against him, then sift through the offers of reality shows, interviews and books.
THR: Why did you decide to represent Steven Slater?
Howard Bragman: I think that he’s hit something in the zeitgeist, and I think that I understand what he’s hit. So I’m doing the media relations and also acting as manager.
THR: What type of offers are you getting?
HB: We’re getting a huge response from every level. People are reaching out. Our first job is to get beyond the criminal charges and to deal with that. You’re definitely not going to see some reality show next week. Our first job is to handle these very serious criminal charges against Steve and then to get as good a resolution as possible. After the criminal charges are handled, we’re going to evaluate things.
THR: What has Steven’s response been to the criminal charges?
HB: Anybody who has charges hanging over their head is concerned. He’s handling the situation with intelligence and humor and integrity.
THR: What specific offers has Steven gotten since the incident?
HB: I’m not going to talk specifics because I’ve been on board for 12 minutes and haven’t seen everything, but he’s gotten offers for a reality show, hosting, endorsements, books and personal appearances. There’s been a huge array of things.
THR: What about the offer of a reality show from producer Scott Stone?
HB: I did get a call from Scott Stone, and he said that he had interest and that he’d love to present an idea at the right time. I haven’t seen the offer yet. Lots of people in the reality world have reached out.
THR: There have been reports that the morning news shows are so eager for an interview that a producer actually jumped in Steve’s car.
HB: I don’t know about that yet. I just know that everybody has been very aggressive. We’re not talking about the morning shows yet. I know there’s been a lot of interest, and as long as he doesn’t talk, there will be plenty of interest when he finally does.
THR: Why do you think people are so interested in him?
HB: I think it’s because he’s hit three things in the zeitgeist. First, Steven’s situation touched on something we all understand. We all talk about unemployment and how it’s hurt people, but it’s also affected those still in the work force. Those people are working harder for less money.
Everyone is stressed, squeezed, and we all share and understand that. We all understand how hard we’re working and how we don’t seem to be getting ahead or being able to pay our bills. And we’re all still worried for our jobs.
It also touched on the lack of basic manners and decency in society. When people yell out during State of the Union and congressional things — they yell, “Liar” — we’re looking at a loss of basic civility and manners. And that troubles a lot of people. They’re concerned about that loss.
Then, of course, there’s the whole airline experience today. Steven said to me, “I used to supply Chateaubriand for people going to Europe on TWA, and now I throw a bag of Cheetos at someone who can’t be bothered to take a shower before they get on an airplane.”
He captured those things in the zeitgeist and epitomized those things. He started a really interesting dialogue in society, and I think it’s a healthy dialogue.
THR: What is the real story about what happened on that plane?
HB: All I can say is that we’re going to deal with that in the appropriate forum. We’ll deal with that in the justice system. Steven is building his legal team, and he’s represented by Howard Turman in New York.
THR: Does Steve still want to be a flight attendant?
HB: It’s been one week today. It’s still very surreal to him. He’s got a lot of things to consider right now.
THR: How is his boyfriend handling all of this?
HB: He’s known him for a long time. He’s been loving and supportive and at his side whenever he needs him to be. He’s a wonderful guy, and they’re a great couple.
THR: Do you think Steven’s notoriety will be fleeting?
HB: I’m seeing a lot of interest. I think he’s an interesting character, and I don’t think America knows him. I think they’re going to like this guy. He’s very charming and very intelligent. I think there is real potential in him, but that’s secondary. Our first responsibility is the charges. If I didn’t believe in this guy, I wouldn’t be here.