The PR Wars at 42West: Fights, Money and a Breakup

Cynthia Swartz, left, and Leslee Dart
Cynthia Swartz, left, and Leslee Dart

Forget all its A-list talent and Oscar campaigns: There’s even more drama behind the scenes at this top publicity firm as premier awards strategist Cynthia Swartz stages her exit away from Leslee Dart.


LEGENDARY PR FIRM PMK AND ITS SUCCESSORS: Pat Kingsley's company schooled a generation of publicists

1980: PMK founded
Pat Kingsley and Lois Smith merge their Pickwick Public Relations with the Maslansky-Koenigsberg Agency, headed by Michael Maslansky and Neil Koenigsberg, and a dynasty is born. Kingsley quickly establishes herself as the doyenne of Hollywood publicity.

1999: PMK sold
Corporate America comes calling: As companies start to view celebrities as branding tools, Interpublic, a global marketing corporation whose holdings include such ad agencies as McCann Erickson, buys PMK as it begins to assemble a portfolio of PR shops.

1999: Mara Buxbaum leaves PMK
Buxbaum, who repped such stars as Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder at PMK, opts to join Kelly Bush's ID PR, opening that firm's first New York office.

2001: PMK/HBH merge
Interpublic acquires another firm -- Huvane Baum Halls, founded by Stephen Huvane, Robin Baum and Simon Halls -- and merges it with PMK to create PMK/HBH, with a talent roster that includes Jennifer Aniston, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks and Martin Scorsese.

2004: Tom Cruise leaves PMK
Making no secret of his allegiance to Scientology, the actor fires Kingsley, a bitter blow given how fiercely she had protected his image.

2004: Leslee Dart leaves PMK
After Dart makes an unsuccessful play for Kingsley's job, Kingsley fires her. Producer Scott Rudin calls Dart's ouster "outrageous" and follows her out the door. The following year, Dart and Amanda Lundberg open their own firm, 42West.

2008: Kingsley retires
Finally surrendering the reins, Kingsley steps down as chairman and CEO of PMK/HBH, and Cindi Berger and Halls take over leadership of the company. "We are now a conglomerate, and it's daunting," Kingsley says. "I want to be involved in the creative aspects of working with clients."

2009: PMK/HBH merges with BNC to form PMK*BNC
Drama unfolds when Interpublic decides to merge the talent-friendly PMK/HBH with the more brand-oriented BNC. Senior staffers at PMK exit in a major reshuffling as BNC's Michael Nyman and PMK's Berger take over leadership of the combine.

2009-10: Prime forms
Joy Fehily, another PMK alumna, joins forces with former Endeavor publicist Michael Donkis to open Prime PR with a client list that includes Graham King, Aaron Sorkin and David Ellison.

2009-10: Slate forms
Former PMKers Halls, Huvane, Baum and Andy Gelb join Ina Treciokas' Slate PR, bringing along such clients as Tom Ford, Jude Law and Ang Lee.

2009-10: Viewpoint forms
Jennifer Allen and Melissa Kates, also part of the exodus from PMK, open their own shop, Viewpoint, repping Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Shia LaBeouf and Chris Pine.

2011: Cynthia Swartz Leaves 42West
A partner at 42West since 2005, Swartz, a tireless awards campaigner and a fixture on the indie film scene, decides to strike out on her own. She's already eyeing her next Oscar bid, following her successful work on behalf of The Hurt Locker.

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