One On One: Howard Rubenstein, Representative To The Stars
NY1's Budd Mishkin continues his new series entitled "One On One" — a weekly look at the New Yorkers who make the city great. This week Mishkin Howard Rubenstein, public relations representative to the stars:
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Howard Rubenstein has been coming up with clever ideas for almost 50 years.
As a a public relationship representative to dozens of high profile celebrities and organizations, Rubenstein's day might include a breakfast with business and political leaders, an offbeat news conference, a private meeting between feuding factions, and extinguishing small fires like a recent Yankee playoff ticket mix-up.
"That is a perfect day, where part of your day is very serious, part of your day has a sense of humor, part of your day is meaningless,” Rubenstein said. “If you did the same thing every day, I don't think I would have stayed here."
A walk through the Midtown offices of Rubenstein associates is like a 20th century pop culture and political history lesson. He's represented the Donald, the Boss, the gloved one, and the duchess.
"When she came to me seven years ago, she was being criticized throughout England,” Rubenstein said. “She had gained weight, her image was down. I said, ÎYou have a terrific charm about you. Put your crisis aside — you are really every woman. You gained weight, you have problems you are coping with. Let's tell the human side of your life."
"I try to understand the intellect and achievement,” he said. “I don't respond to their celebrity. I treat them as peers and help solve their problem."
Sometimes the meetings between his clients make for a good story.
"At my 45th anniversary party, at Tavern on the Green, Steinbrenner was there and Fergie was there. Fergie walks up to him and says, ÎYou must be important, I see all the reporters around you. Who are you? He reminded me about that for two years."
But when you represent a newspaper, as Rubenstein does the New York Post and its owner Rupert Murdoch, inevitably his clients will clash.
"Yes, the Post sometimes goes after my clients with a vengeance. But my clients realize I don't run the Post nor would I try. Most I would try is to tell our side of the story."
The pictures on Rubenstein's office wall show that he has friends across the political spectrum. Let's face it: It's not everyone who can call both Rupert Murdoch and David Dinkins old friends.
“If I like a public official and like what they stand for, I'll do what I can to help that person,” he said.
Rubenstein has worked for charities and companies and even countries. But he is likely best known for his representation of celebrities, like Mick Jagger, Leona Helmsley, and Michael Jackson, many of whom find themselves steeped in controversy when they knock on Rubenstein's door.
“I find a nice part of all the people I work with,” Rubenstein said. ÎSo if they say what's a nice guy like you [doing with someone like that], there's a nice thing about them.”