PUBLICIST FRANK H. LIEBERMAN OBIT
Lieberman was an excellent writer who became part of Elvis Presley's inside circle. He switched
to public relations and in the early 70s worked as a publicist for Sammy Davis Jr.,
Tony Danza, Tony Orlando, Engelbert Humperdinck and others.
Then he snagged
what many PR firms would have groveled to sign - Siegfried & Roy. From 1996-2003 he
diligently devoted himself to S&R, leaving just weeks before Roy Horn's tiger attack.
As publicist for S&R Lieberman skillfully performed a highwire walk.
Members of the press are recalling their Lieberman stories and I have mine.
Siegfried & Roy have or do control many entertainment outlets, including the
entertainment sections of major
Shortly after Broadway To Vegas was launched, I received a blank
contract from Lieberman in which Siegfried & Roy wanted to own control of Broadway To Vegas. The monetary
line was left blank with a hand written note from Lieberman on letterhead paper, instructing
me to put in any figure as long as I didn't exceed a certain number of digits
before the decimal point. In turn, I would agreed to a list of stipulations.
From reading the contract my understanding is that I
would have agreed to, in effect: never divulge that Siegfried
& Roy controlled the site, ever take down the site, attend meetings, obey if told to never
print the name of a person
or show, or conversely
promote whom or whatever they instructed, use their releases, give them the power to not only
but also to control
employment - having the authority to order me to fire anyone who might be working for me
without that person being told who ordered their termination or why. On the flip side, if I was told to hire somebody and publicize them, that was also under their jurisdiction.
In turn, I would be paid.
I made a Xerox copy of the contract, tore the Xerox copy into tiny bits and mailed the pieces back to Lieberman
with a terse note to the effect that I wasn't interested in selling myself as a hand puppet.
Lieberman called. He was quiet, sweet, darling. He verified my understanding of the proposed
contract. He also told me I didn't know how to play the game
and that I was
the only person or publication to have ever refused one of
He thought I was a fool. This would be my one and only chance. I needed to wise up.
A serious, escalating conversation ensued. I was outraged and offended at the idea of
any hidden third party controlling editorial of any outlet which might have the possibility
of affecting ticket sales, or opinions about a
person, project, venue or performance.
Frequently, entertainment and 'news' merge. Who decides?
One comment led to more comments to eventually my being told
at least some of the publications and people on the list. The payout ranges were from small
to sizeable. The names of 'respectable' outlets that agreed to the contract conditions were jaw
All businesses need sponsors, business associates, partners - whatever the name, it means they
have paid money.
Nobody insults a sponsor and only a blithering idiot wouldn't be cognisant
of what is
important to a sponsor. There are also
hidden sponsors who don't want people to know they have contributed towards the upkeep
of something, because they don't want to be asked for donations from every kid on the block.
There is also a perfectly legal and frequently used process of paying for somebody's
silence. However, to remain hidden while exercising control with both copy and employment
is an animal of a different stripe.
If I wasn't going to wise up and learn how to play the game, then Lieberman wanted me to
return the original
contract and handwritten note. I refused.
I still have both that original contract and Lieberman's handwritten note.
In a perfectly sweet, charming, adorable, delightful way he told me I'd be sorry.
The idea of somebody not signing on the dotted line apparently escaped some of the staff. Once, during the days when people used fax machines, I had my fax turned off. I received a stern phone call from a woman identifying herself as from Lieberman' Siegfried & Roy office ordering me to turn my fax machine on because they had something to send me. When it wasn't turned on fast enough for her, I received another phone call asking me if I enjoyed the checks I received from them, because they could stop.
When informed that I had never, ever received a dime from that duo - the sound of silence was - as the saying goes - deafening.
Every time I saw Lieberman I got a big hug and compliments.
It was Lieberman who took me on a tour of S&R's Magical Gardens when the magical duo threw a birthday party for a
beloved elephant. ( See Broadway To Vegas column of May 10, 1998
). It was also Lieberman who got me fired from a publication
by enforcing a contract that publication had with S&R.
Lieberman had the almost impossible job of being the rules' enforcer - the guard with the whip who knew how to use it - while
never alienating anybody. Usually people retaliate against the messenger. When Frank was
ordered to carry out unpleasant duties, people understood that Frank was simply doing his job.
He had a wide cadre of associates - from the best to the worst. I always believed that he
never bad mouthed anybody unless he was ordered to do so.
He could go out of his way to help both friends and strangers. He was a throw-back to the
way Las Vegas press agents behaved when the mob ran Vegas.
He died decades too soon.
Lieberman is survived by his wife Karen, children Adam and Laura and brother Michael.
Funeral services were Tuesday, January 25, at Eden Cemetery in Mission Hills, Calif.
All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary,
Photographs or Graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published,
utilized as leads, or used in any manner without permission,
Link Back To Column