Planet Hollywood didn’t invite Metro Council’s 40 members to the restaurant’s big opening-night bash last month. What could have been a social faux pas has turned out to be an infinitely stupid move. The snub to the Council now threatens the movie-theme restaurant’s spinning-globe sign, the fate of which now rests in the Council’s hands. If bruised feelings triumph, the controversial globe may have to be replaced with something a little more, well, subtle.
Council will likely wait until July 16 before considering approval of the sign, which was erected without the proper approvals from Metro. Several Council members are urging that the sign be taken down or redesigned, all in the name of good government and in the interests of historic preservation.
But don’t be fooled. Council doesn’t just include responsible public servants. It also includes some egomaniacs whose feelings are hurt because they didn’t get the chance to rub elbows with Cindy Crawford.
Truth be told, Council members should probably direct their animosity not so much at Planet Hollywood but at public relations powerhouse Dye Van Mol & Lawrence, which supervised the event for the restaurant. Partner John Van Mol says the event was handled much like the other 30 restaurant openings to which mostly entertainment types were invited.
Dye Van Mol is also the public relations firm for the Metro Development and Housing Agency, which was deeply involved in recruiting the restaurant to town in the first place. Meanwhile, MDHA is also the agency responsible for reviewing development and renovation of buildings in the Capitol Mall Redevelopment Plan, which includes areas of Broadway, Commerce Street, and Church Street.
Dye Van Mol should be well aware of the mutual back-scratching that is a routine part of Metro politics. The PR moguls should have known that Council members were going to take it personally once they figured out that they hadn’t made the list.
And that’s exactly what happened. When Council members discovered invitations had already been issued and that they weren’t among the elite, someone put a Council staff member up to calling another public relations powerhouse to see if something could be worked out. At that point, Council members didn’t know whom to blame for what they considered an unforgivable gaffe.
After all, they had received invitations to the grand VIP openings of Wildhorse Saloon and Hard Rock Cafe.
In the end, the Council had no luck in scoring invitations. Only Vice Mayor Jay West and downtown district Council member Julius Sloss were invited. Of course, Mayor Phil Bredesen was invited, as was the Legislature’s Davidson County delegation, from which Planet Hollywood will probably never need any favors.
Planet Hollywood has hired Kim Dettwiller to serve as its very own spokeswoman, and there is talk that a Planet reception is being planned for Council members. For many of them, the gesture will be too little, too late.
National politics came to Tennessee last week, with Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole stopping in Knoxville and U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich wowing a crowd of 700 here at a $100-a-person fundraiser for Republican Steve Gill, who’s running for a second time against U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, the Murfreesboro Democrat.
The noontime fundraiser at Wildhorse Saloon brought out a few low-rung Democrats to protest the not-so-popular House speaker, who, as usual, gave an impressive speech in which he assured Nashvillians that Congress would not impede Nashville’s pro-football efforts.
Gingrich didn’t put his foot in his mouth as Democrats had hoped. Gill’s cousin, finance chairman Mark Gill, took care of that. His tasteless remark about the late White House Deputy Counsel Vince Foster nearly silenced the room.
“According to the Clinton administration, they have conclusive new evidence that Vince Foster hired [Craig] Livingstone,” Mark Gill said, introducing his joke.
“It seems this weekend that Hillary invited her psychic back to the White House, and they contacted Vince. Vince ’fessed up to it right away. Vince would not admit to having anything to do with the billing records. He says he hasn’t been back to the White House since he shot himself.”
The comment is reminiscent of the insensitive re-enactment of Foster’s suicide that local Republicans staged in 1994.
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