Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Hard questions? Let's not go there

PR firms have final word on what visiting stars such as Eva Longoria, Mike Tyson and Usain Bolt can be asked.

Eva Longoria. Photo / AP
Eva Longoria. Photo / AP

Eva Longoria will not tell you her favourite Kiwi fashion designer and Mike Tyson is happy for an "open interview" - just don't mention his visa issues or his rape conviction.

They are among a host of American celebrities travelling to New Zealand in the next few months who have put strict limitations on what they can and can't be asked.

US actress Eva Longoria will be in Auckland today to mark the launch of the Shopping Channel but her management has vetted the two questions each media organisation has been permitted to ask.

The public relations firm handling her visit said it was not acceptable to ask who her favourite New Zealand fashion designer is or what she would miss out on during her visit and what she would come back for.

However, the former Desperate Housewives star's management said it was okay to ask the best thing she'd bought from the Shopping channel, why she supported President Obama's re-election campaign and what souvenirs she would take home with her.

Media invited to conduct an "open" interview with Tyson were not allowed to ask questions relating to his visa status. His management told one reporter: "Mr Tyson doesn't want to discuss anything controversial. Keep it light."

Meanwhile, Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt will also be under tight control when he arrives on a whirlwind visit to promote sports drink Gatorade.

Porter Novelli, who is managing Bolt's visit, said there were no specific limits on what he could be asked, except his management had asked it be "athletics focused".

Duco Events director David Higgins, who is hosting Al Gore's talk in Auckland next Friday, said there were no restrictions placed on interviews, although that may change before he arrives.

Andy Haden, who runs talent agency Sporting Contacts, defended placing restrictions on what media asked and said they were partly responsible for creating that environment.

Mango PR managing director Claudia Macdonald believed, while it was becoming more common, celebrities needed to strike a balance between protecting their privacy and "being seen as an open and approachable human being that connects with the public".

Media commentator and consultant Brian Edwards said: "It's just commonplace and if you're a big enough star, probably the reporter needs the star more than the star needs the reporter."

Appearing near you

Eva Longoria
What she is selling: The Shopping Channel in NZ
What's taboo: Favourite NZ designer, what she will miss while she's here and what she would come back for
PR agency/promoter: Bullet PR
When is she here: Today

Usain Bolt
What he is selling: Gatorade
What's taboo: Nothing, but a preference for athletics questions
PR agency/promoter: Porter Novelli
When is he here: Oct 8

Al Gore
What he is selling: Talk on Leadership in a Changing World
What's taboo: Nothing as yet
PR agency/promoter: Duco Events
When is he here: Oct 12

Mike Tyson
What he is selling: Mike Tyson's Day of the Champions Tour
What's taboo: Visa status, anything controversial
PR agency/promoter: Markson Sparks
When is he here: Nov 15.

- NZ Herald

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