Publicity!: Six Scandalous Adventures of Hollywood's Crisis Manager Laurel QuinnEdwin Betancourt / Thrillers & Crime
Copyright © 2017 by Edwin Betancourt
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, 2017
To my Fourteen year old self,
We finally did it!
“Here at Publicity! My goal is to make sure every client no matter where you fall in Hollywood: A-List, B-List, C-List or D, have long lasting careers without suffering the bumps and roads of scandals that plague every turn in Hollywood. My name is Laurel Quinn and I am the CEO and President of Publicity! I founded this company after my mother, the late Oscar Award Winning Actress Elizabeth Quinn, suffered a scandal because of a jealous costar and committed suicide. Ever since that day, I have vowed to protect the reputation of these celebrities and turn their scandals around. With the help of my staff, no scandal is too big for me to handle! So give me a call and let Publicity!, handle your scandal!”
November 10th, 2017
Laurel Quinn tapped the end of her pink crystal pen against the edge of her chestnut desk. Seated in front of her was the famous rapper Lil Holler, wearing his infamous thick golden chains and holding his customized fitted cap on his lap. He had worn it earlier when he entered the building but Laurel had forced him to take it off, as it was a sign of disrespect to leave it on.
He had heard many stories about this Auburn haired woman all throughout Hollywood. She was a force to be reckoned with but she always got the job done. She was dubbed by many people as the ‘Ice Queen’, a term that he was sure would offend the middle aged woman if someone called her that to her face.
The silence between the two had been present for at least three minutes now. Laurel knew why he called to set up an appointment with her, she just wanted to hear him explain the reasoning behind it…sadly the man that won five Grammy Awards and spent most of his career yelling at the top of his lungs in every song; wasn’t saying a word. He sat there giving her an apologetic look and gulped trying to find the proper words to say.
She leaned back in her throne like office chair and flipped her hair back, “Should I explain to you why you’re here or are you going to finally open up that trap of yours and tell me yourself?”
The rapper licked his lips and began to speak, “Aight so this is what had happened-“
Laurel slammed the pen on her desk causing Lil Holler to flinch and stop speaking. “If you’re going to address me, I advise you to take that Rapper façade-you fool the world with and throw it out. You will address me like the Harvard Graduate you are and actually use English words.”
Lil Holler let out a frustrated sigh and he gave the woman a nod. He cleared his throat and continued on, “My apologies Ms.Quinn. I was going to say I screwed up.”
“Screwed up?” Laurel repeated slowly. “No. A screw up is getting your backup dancer pregnant because you were too drunk to wear a condom. What you did was insult not only your intelligence but an entire nation.”
Before the rapper could open his mouth to defend his actions, Laurel grabbed a small remote control off of her desk and pressed the power button turning on the large television screen behind her. On the large screen was a picture of the rapper holding up an American Flag that was set on fire and smiling at the camera. The headline on the screen read: “NYC Rapper Lil Holler Betrays America and Insults The Troops”
Lil Holler shifted uncomfortably on the chair he was seated on as the news segment continued playing with the volume on mute. Laurel noticed how uneasy he was and she turned off the screen and placed the remote back down on her desk. “Can you please, please tell me what the hell was going through your head when you not only, burned the American flag but also took a stupid selfie doing it?”
“Listen…it all started when Presidential Elect Victor Reber won the damn election. I-I mean who votes for a racist?!”
“And instead of creating a fake profile on Twitter to complain about it-like everyone else does- you decide to open a can of stupidity and share it with your eight million followers?”
Lil Holler clenched his jaws together, “I was protesting.”
“Protesting what, Curtis?”
“Call me Lil Holler.” The rapper corrected her.
Laurel looked at Lil Holler for a few seconds shocked he would prove his stupidity even more by demanding her to call him a name that made him sound like an idiot. “Yeah I’m not doing that.” She stated. “As I was saying, what the hell were you protesting that you had to burn a flag?”
“If you want to protest Police Brutality kneel during the National Anthem or text during a Presidential Speech, I don’t care! But you do not burn a flag! It is seen as disrespectful to everyone including your fans- which is ironic considering all you do is rap about killing snitches and calling women whores and sluts- but that’s beside the point.”
“The last time I checked, the desecration of the flag is a legal act that is protected by the First Amendment. Which means I cannot be imprisoned.”
Laurel flipped her shoulder length Auburn colored hair back and smiled at him. “You aren’t going to jail Curtis, nor are you facing any jail time. This….act of ‘Righteousness’ cost you endorsement deals. Nike, Snapple, those ridiculously huge headphones, any and every deal you had in the works are gone. Poof! They all dropped you once this photo went viral. I’m not your agent, I don’t care what your intentions are! I’m a Crisis Manager. Your fixer. I’m here to make sure you come up unscathed from this mess.”
Curtis aka Lil Holler grew angry at her words. He didn’t think about the business side of his act and quite frankly he didn’t care. The whole purpose of that photo was to show how screwed America was, now that openly racist and homophobic Republican nominee Victor Reber won the Presidency. Although he knew there wasn’t much of a connection between Reber and the police shootings which took place six months ago, he needed his voice heard and proved it by burning the flag and taking the picture to show his fans and the entire world how he truly felt.
Curtis took in a deep breath, “I don’t need them! As long as my fans support me that’s all that matters. I have three songs currently played in commercials. One song is the theme to that stupid show about those girls finding their killer or some crap.”
Laurel gave him a nod. “I highly doubt your manager even called you since this whole scandal went down, as it’s pretty evident you’re wasting my time and yours. But those commercials have pulled out your songs and they’re replacing it with that Canadian Rapper. As for that show, more than twenty thousand people signed a petition to boycott it until they take your song off as its theme. They’re sending the petition over to the studio execs at MBZ as we speak.”
“Wait! What!? Someone created a petition to remove my song?”
“Yes, clever little buggers. They can’t afford to move out of their parent’s basement or let alone actually find a job, but they can sit behind their computer screens and create meaningless petitions.”
Curtis shook his head nervously and he shifted in the chair again. “So what do I do now? I mean you are my Publicist after all.”
“I am well aware of my job title thank you for the reminder.”
There was a knock on the door that caused Curtis to nervously to look at Laurel and he watched as she rose up from the chair and made her way toward the door. He couldn’t help but admire the woman’s hourglass figure that was made possible by the skin tight red and black dress she had on.
Laurel opened the door to find a man no older than thirty years old standing in the doorway holding a manila colored envelope in his hands. “Are these the photographs I asked for?”
The tall man gave her a nod and smiled “And then some.”
“Perfect. Thank you Tony.” She took the envelope and turned back to her desk and she began to walk toward it once again. “Curtis, do you remember Dave Alex? The former mayor of Singler City?”
The rapper thought to himself about the name and he shook his head never once hearing it before. “No I don’t.”
Laurel continued to walk around her desk and she sat down on the chair. “Well Dave Alex was running for Mayor and he painted his image with this beautiful family. Wife, kids and white picket fences. You know the same old cliché bull crap closeted Republicans use to get votes. Well, back in the days he and I used to be married. This was in college, where I clearly had no self-esteem. Anyway, he did this press conference a few months after being elected, where he referred to me as -and I quote- ‘A Blonde Cancerous woman who turned my life upside down until I met my current wife’.”
“Oh my God.” Curtis let out a low gasp.
“Right?” Laurel asked. “During those days I wasn’t even a blonde!” She shook her head smiling to herself not entirely sure if Curtis understood her dark humor. “Anyway, after that little comment I grew offended and wanted to give my dear ex-husband a congratulatory present. Well, Tony-the man who just knocked on my door- is very gifted with his ability to manipulate photos and make them seem real.”
“You mean like Photoshop?”
“In a way yes. But he doesn’t use that program. He uses something a bit more advanced. Something that when those geeks in the FBI analyze the photo, they will see it’s legit and have no traces of manipulation. So getting back on track, someone leaked a photo of dear old Mayor Alex sniffing cocaine and hanging out with prostitutes the same day his third son was born. That made the people of Singler City very upset. So upset they decided to impeach him and his wife forced him to go to rehab.”
If this was a cartoon Laurel was pretty sure animated exclamation marks would be dancing over Curtis’ head. The rumors he heard from random people in the industry were correct. She was a ruthless woman who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.
“Y-You leaked those photos?”
“Oh Curtis. What is that phrase you say in all your songs?” Laurel rubbed her chin thinking of the phrase, within a second she snapped her fingers in excitement. “Ah yes! Now I remember ‘Snitches get shot’.” She flashed him a devious smirk that would make even the Devil nervous.
He cleared his throat again and asked, “But what does this have to do with my situation?”
“Great question!” She opened the manila envelope and folded her arms on the desk. “Well, Tony and I went over ways to make this all go away and we came up with a marvelous solution. Here is our version of the original photo.” She took out a picture and handed it to the rapper.
He lowered his eyebrows at what he was seeing. The picture he uploaded online was the same as the one he was currently gazing at, he wore the same white tank top, the same black fitted cap with his logo on it but instead of sweatpants- he had on shorts, and instead of a burning flag in his hands he had a trout as if he just fished it out of the local river.
“What the hell is this?! Nah man. No one will believe that!” he stated as he pushed the picture away from him.
Laurel was impressed at how handsomely athletic this man was and yet how stupid he was coming across at the same time. “Have you checked your phone recently? You’re trending number Two on Twitter. You would’ve been trending number one but the Queen of England was fictitiously killed off again.”
“I’m trending number two because of this damn scandal!”
“Mmm, check again.” She stated sitting back on the chair.
Curtis quickly pulled out his cellphone and tapped the touch screen to discover he had more than ninety eight Tweet notifications and one hundred messages. He clicked on the notification icon and scrolled through the pages in shock and awe at what he was reading. He noticed one tweet had ‘Lil Holler Makes a Statement About Hacking’ and he lowered his eye brows.
“You released a statement on my behalf?”
“Mhmm.” Laurel replied back with a smirk still plastered on her pore less face.
The rapper clicked on the link and read the statement out loud.
“I want to thank my fans for their response both positive and negative regarding the picture that was uploaded earlier. It breaks my heart that anyone in their right mind would believe that I would burn a flag- a symbol of this Country, a symbol of everything the brave Men and Women are fighting for overseas, that you all would believe I would do something so sinister and vile leaves me silent and hurt. I have been vocal in my community for years and believe me when I say I did not burn the American Flag. I had the FBI and local officials look into the picture and it was manipulated by hackers-“ Curtis stopped reading and he looked at Laurel. “The FBI? Wouldn’t they deny this claim?”
“They can. But it’s amazing at what people will do to ensure their secrets never get out. Now please continue reading you’re getting to the good part.”
Curtis nodded. He was sorry he even asked the question and he continued reading the statement.
“- Apparently, some very angry people were livid that my name was tossed into the Inauguration pool to perform for Presidential Elect Victor Reber that they called me a ‘Traitor’, ‘A liar’ and even used the N-word to describe my intentions. My name was tossed into the hat to perform but I never once held any interest to do so. Yes, throughout his campaign he had said some very offensive things that made me question where his loyalty was, but I would never disrespect something as special as our American Flag. I will continue being vocal in my community against the Police Brutality we have been facing for the past year for as long as I’m alive. I want to thank you all for understanding. Below I have posted the real picture. If you’re going to try to photoshop a picture, don’t do it erasing the biggest Trout I ever caught! LOL!”
Curtis finished reading the response and he began to reread it again in his mind. This was a beautifully written response. It sounded just like him, every word used were some he would actually have used himself.
“This...is great but I’m letting my people down by stating the flag burning wasn’t real!”
“What people?” Laurel asked. “When this photo went viral eighteen hours ago you went from Eight million followers to nine hundred. Then before I even started typing out that beautifully worded public statement, that number climbed down to two hundred followers. Face the fact Curtis, this isn’t about politics or race. At the end of the day, it’s about you staying on top of your career. I get that you want to be Robin Hood, I do. But put all that anger into your next album, because as a woman, I ought to castrate you for calling us Bitches, Sluts and Whores.”
As if the pain was real Curtis placed his cap over his crotch and nodded. He looked back down at the phone screen and swiped it again. “According to my followers now, I only have five hundred.”
“Give it time. Everyone is still working and in school. Around noon and six the news will pick up on this mishap and address it.”
Curtis placed the phone in his pocket and he rose up from the chair. “You really came through for me. Thank you so much!”
Laurel gave him a sincere smile and nodded her head watching him. “That’s my job. The next time you’re angry…stay away from Flags.”
Curtis chuckled and he turned toward the office door and opened it, he walked out of her office and Laurel couldn’t restrain from letting out a deep sigh of relief at another job well done. Tony re-entered her office and knocked softly on the door.
“Everything worked out?” he asked his British accent making it very obvious he was concerned for Laurel’s wellbeing. She flashed him a smile nodding her head.
“Were there any doubts?-” She paused for a few seconds and licked her lips smirking. “How would you like to make Twenty Five Thousand dollars?”
Tony straightened his posture and looked at his boss. “I’m listening.”