Coming out of the public relations week from hell, the studios and streamers are looking for the firm that fought off Pizzagate to help them in the war of words against the striking Writers Guild.
After misreading the room with the release earlier this week of their August 11 proposal to the WGA and the subsequent blowback on August 22 and August 24, the AMPTP has hired crisis-management specialists the Levinson Group, a source close to events told Deadline.
“The studios need better coordination, better messaging in response to the writers and the media,” said an industry vet of the companies that literally own large swaths of the mainstream media. Contacted by Deadline, Levinson declined to comment on her firm’s new role with the AMPTP.
While current AMPTP PR consultants Scott Rowe and former UTA communications boss Chris Day remain in place for the Hollywood organization, the Molly Levinson-founded firm is now onboard to reframe the big picture for studio and streamer CEOs who have been characterized as greedy, imperious and out of touch in the over 115-day picket line battle with the scribes and now actors union SAG-AFTRA.
Even as long off-again and briefly on-again talks have been going on, writers and now actors have taken to the streets, social media and evening news with flair, passion and soundbites to promote their desire for new contracts that adequately address 21st century concerns about pay, residuals, AI, data transparency and more. With its top-tier membership of usually competing CEOs, the often heavy-handed Carol Lombardini-led AMPTP has lacked the speed, continuity and nimbleness to match the skillful scribes.
But, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures — especially for the AMPTP.
The Levinson Group describes itself as “a strategic communications and issues management firm with global reach. Holding down offices in Washington D.C., NYC and London. It came to prominence in 2017 as the fake news of Pizzagate and far-right claims that fashionable D.C. restaurant Cornet Ping Pong housed a child sex ring and human trafficking scheme for Hillary Clinton and other leading Democrats. Death threats and a thwarted potential mass shooting followed in the divisions of the 2016 election.
In more recent years, the Levinson Group was instrumental in the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s successful pursuit of pay equity.
Levinson is a former journalist who covered the September 11 attacks, the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and every election from 2002-12. She served as the acting political director at CBS News before leaving the network to become political director at CNN.
The AMPTP’s hiring of the Levinson Group was first reported by THR.