If monetizing celebrities’ private information while managing to avoid crippling legal entanglements is an art, then Kevin Blatt is a virtuoso. “Dirt in hand, Blatt serves as a bridge between the lawyers, the tabloids, the celebrities, and the people with something to sell – pocketing a percentage or a consulting fee from as many of those parties as possible,” writes Amanda Chicago Lewis in her feature article in Wired.
The article seems to have been written with the cooperation of the subject, something that may seem puzzling at first but which the article itself manifestly explains. Among other revelations it will provide for readers whose world turns in quite another orbit is what the cliché “all publicity is good publicity” can actually mean in practice. Not that it always means the same thing, and its fine points and distinctions are one of Blatt’s areas of expertise. His own learning curve in this area was informed by the Paris Hilton sex tape saga in the 1990s. It supercharged his career, Lewis explains, providing his first big lesson in “how to manipulate a star’s pain for his gain,” but as it happened it supercharged Hilton’s career too.
Blatt’s practice has evolved since the 90s, as he continually tweaks his modus operandi to exploit whatever media-privacy-publicity configuration is extant at the moment. At one point, Lewis writes, he came to rely more and more on his “gossip work,” which involved “toggling between promoting and squelching a story.” Sex tapes are actually not, at this point, Blatt’s major natural resource. By his own estimate, sex tapes – defined to include both exposés about somebody’s sexual practices and actual images of prominent people, naked and/or engaged in sex – are now about 30 percent of what people bring him. Evidence of infidelity is about 60 percent, and about 10 percent relates to drug use.
Not that he doesn’t retain lawyers from time to time, but the Wired profile suggests that in addition to having an almost animal instinct for sensing who will be willing to pay for what, Blatt is also a kind of legal idiot savant who often does without them. If there were a “For Dummies” book to be written about how to monetize dicey information or videos while managing to steer clear of legal problems, Blatt would be a good candidate to write it. He seems to have an infallible sense for figuring out what he can get away with and what is best left alone, and as Lewis points out, working without a lawyer means he gets a bigger cut.
Today’s General Counsel / D.R.