She’s certainly no Elin Nordegren. Unlike Tiger Woods’ ex, Mel Gibson’s former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva is anything but silent in what’s become an ugly and protracted battle with Gibson over child custody and domestic-violence charges.
Over the last few weeks, rather than retreat from the spotlight and let the drama unfold in the courtroom, Grigorieva, who’s been in the hands of a revolving door of publicists, lawyers, and advisers, has been a ubiquitous media spectacle. She’s on this week’s cover of People magazine. She scheduled an Oprah Winfrey interview, which was then canceled. She was in talks to do a Dateline segment. And she’s been photographed by the paparazzi, dropping her car off at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.
Stephen Jaffe, Grigorieva’s publicist, said the strategy is an attempt to combat the vast difference in resources and name-recognition between his client and “the actor, the celebrity, and the Academy Award-winning director”—a “popularity contest,” Jaffe said, in which Gibson “wins out.”
But is Grigorieva’s PR approach hurting her?
“She’s gone from a stage of, ‘This is a serious issue of domestic violence,’ to the Octomom stage,” said Ross Johnson, head of strategic communications at the public-relations firm PMK-BMC.
“It’s a dangerous game,” Johnson continued. “The judge wants legal cases litigated in the courtroom, where it should be litigated. After a certain point, if your PR campaign is too obviously playing out in the media, it can hurt you in the courtroom.”
It is unclear at this point whether Grigorieva will, in fact, hinder her legal position—she recently claimed a victory, when her child support was upped to $20,000 a month. But many lawyers and PR experts say that by talking to the press while her case is still being investigated, she is opening herself up to the possibility of saying something publicly that can be used against her in court.
“The more she does, the more it backfires,” said Robin Sax, a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, who briefly counseled Grigorieva, though Sax was never paid or on contract. “There’s more opportunity for inconsistent statements. At this point, it’s just, ‘Shut up and let the case speak for itself.’”
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