[Paleopsych] Miami Herald: Lizzie Grubman spins a comeback

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Tue Feb 1 15:34:35 UTC 2005

Lizzie Grubman spins a comeback

    Jail time softened PR goddess' intensity. Soon, you'll see it on TV.

    It's 3 in the morning, New Year's Eve. Ingrid Casares, she of the
    celebrity liaisons, guards the door to a VIP room at the Raleigh Hotel
    like a riled Doberman.

    Bouncers just stand there while Ingrid dismisses partyers who claim
    they know -- whomever.

    Here comes New York celebrity publicist Lizzie Grubman, who once would
    have swiftly beaten Casares in a contest for most high-strung. But
    she's now soft and Zen, even as things heat up and beefy guys in black
    suits and earpieces start shepherding in stars.

    Lizzie, who on March 10 will make a debut in her own MTV reality show,
    wants to help a friend get a couple of not-so-fabulous associates past
    Ingrid, and though they're throwing the party together, Lizzie has to
    engage in a little back and forth with Ingrid before Ingrid relents
    and lets the guys in.

    ''It's OK, Ingrid,'' Lizzie says in a hushed tone, avoiding what once
    upon a time might have turned into an amusing little power clash.

    ''I've changed a lot as a person,'' Lizzie says a couple of days later
    over bubbly water and cigarettes at the Shore Club.

    As publicist for Britney Spears, Jay-Z, the Backstreet Boys and P.
    Diddy, she was used to seeing her name in bold. But she got more press
    than she could stand when she backed her father's Mercedes SUV into a
    crowd outside a Hamptons nightclub in the summer of 2001, injuring 16.
    Witnesses claimed she used choice words as she bolted.

    She pleaded guilty to assault charges and leaving the scene of an
    accident, and in the fall of 2002 served 37 days of a 60-day sentence,
    getting off early for good behavior.

    The ordeal seems to have left an impression. Lizzie speaks calmly now,
    and she listens.

    ``I'm more centered, more focused. Words can't even explain everything
    I've learned. I feel so fortunate to get a second chance. I realize
    how lucky I was to have such great family and friends around me when
    it all happened. I hid for so long. But I was lucky that I had people
    working for me, and clients, too, who were so loyal. I was virtually a
    zombie. I would go to the office, but I was not functioning.''

    Lizzie says her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on the day of
    the accident. She died 21 days later.

    ``A client of mine made me drive to the Hamptons anyway, to open a
    place that didn't even open. I should have stayed with my mother. When
    I got there he didn't have the permits. I wish that night had never
    happened. And I wish I could have properly mourned my mother.''

    The nightmare may be close to over (there are still pending civil
    suits) but Lizzie continues lying low.

    ''I work out like a freak, I go to work, I come home and I'm asleep by
    9:30 or 10,'' says Lizzie, who now avoids drinking and clubbing. ``I'm
    not going to sit here and tell you that I'm spiritual now. I just
    realized I needed to slow down. I think I'm approachable now, and much
    more humble.''


    The homebody thing seems exactly the wrong image for Lizzie as her
    reality show prepares to hit MTV. PoweR Girls will feature Lizzie and
    her lovely assistants as they run star-studded events in Manhattan,
    the Hamptons, Miami and Los Angeles.

    ''It's not that I don't go out. It's just that now I only do it if I
    have to,'' she says. ``I tell a lot of clients, listen, I'll represent
    you, but you won't see me at the event. I have young kids who do that
    for me. That's their job now. I paid my dues. And I'm 33. There's no
    reason why any 33-year-old girl should be in the nightclubs every

    How about for the sake of meeting a guy? Lizzie broke up with her
    boyfriend of a year and a half just a month ago.

    ``All my old boyfriends were nightclub owners. Never again.''

    The MTV show has been billed as Apprentice meets Sex and the City. But
    it's not a contest. It's more about celebrity gawking.

    ''The show is about these girls in their early 20s who work for
    Lizzie, who is their mentor,'' says Tony DiSanto, senior vice
    president of production for MTV. ``She gives them a lot of rope. She's
    nurturing, but she's also tough on the girls.''

    ''I'm in it as much as Donald Trump is in his show,'' says Lizzie.
    ``It's about the ins and outs of the PR business. You'll get the
    behind-the-scenes of a celebrity getting ready to launch a CD or

    Some of the show was shot on South Beach this past summer during MTV's
    Video Music Awards, at Mansion, Mynt and the Shore Club.


    Lizzie says she now imparts her keep-a-low-profile philosophy on
    clients. She has learned that less is more.

    ``My job is to make people famous. But getting famous is not about
    going out at night. Going out at night can be your fatal flaw.
    Overexposure is the worst. People don't want to see you every day.
    They don't want to read about you every day. It's boring. You have to
    go to the right events, or you won't have any credibility.''

    So, like, Paris Hilton is totally overexposed?

    ''I love Paris. She's a very good friend of mine,'' says Lizzie, who
    isn't a publicist for nothing.

    When Casares and her partners decided to throw a blowout New Year's
    Eve party at the Raleigh, they enlisted Lizzie's help. Lizzie was glad
    to, since she was putting another event together right next door at
    the Shelbourne.

    Among the names in bold who showed at the Raleigh: Paris and Nicky
    Hilton, Boris Becker, Lindsay Lohan, the Olsen twins, a couple of
    Wayans, John Stamos.

    ''Basically, I brought my celebrities over,'' says Lizzie. Then she
    remembers to be nice. ``But I mean, Ingrid and Paris are very good
    friends. So it wasn't just me.''

    As open as she comes off these days, Lizzie draws the line at talking
    about her time in jail. She also won't shed light on what her close
    friend Martha Stewart might be going through.

    ``I can't talk about her or prison or give you any other details
    because I have civil cases still pending. But, yes, I can relate to
    what she's going through.''

    Lizzie's cell phone, Blackberry and Sidekick, all three lined up on
    the table, keep going off. She needs to take her leave. But not before
    she offers the one line she keeps repeating to the media. Only a cynic
    would call it just spin. There's something about the barely audible
    tone that says the whole thing still smarts.

    ``There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about the people
    who got hurt in that car accident. I feel awful, I really do.''

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