HUGH GRANT'S PR HEADACHE;TYLENOL TACTICS SAID TO SALVE ACTOR'S EMBARRASSMENT

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Hugh Grant is taking Tylenol for his public relations headache.

Hollywood marketing executives are applauding the actor for taking a page from Tylenol's crisis marketing textbook following his June 27 arrest by L.A. vice cops after being caught with his pants down in the company of a prostitute named Divine Brown.

Mr. Grant, in a departure from the usual duck-and-deny tactics practiced by most celebrities plagued by controversy, immediately owned up to his indiscretion, publicly apologized, then flew back to England to face his girlfriend, model Elizabeth Hurley.

"It reminds me of when Tylenol had that product tampering fiasco a decade ago," said a marketing executive at 20th Century Fox, which will release Mr. Grant's new film, "Nine Months," this week. "They admitted there was a problem and dealt with it, and that brand came back bigger than ever."

Crucial to Mr. Grant's crisis management will be his July 10 appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and a later visit to "The Late Show With David Letterman." Hollywood execs are surprised but impressed that Mr. Grant has chosen to honor these commitments, where he could face merciless roasting or get sympathy points.

But will that be enough to make nice with the sizable contingent of female fans he won through his charming performance in last year's Oscar nominated hit "Four Weddings and a Funeral"? "He may have damaged his image with women but it's not irreparable," said a Hollywood marketing executive.

Some are even daring to say that the incident will end up helping his films. It hasn't hurt: Fox has decided to continue with its extensive ad schedule for "Nine Months" instead of cutting back (there were never any promotional partners).

Mr. Grant's PR plight was a marketing coup for Atlantic Studios Corp., which on June 27 began selling to home video distributors "Our Sons," an acclaimed 1993 ABC TV movie starring Mr. Grant. "I went home that night and saw Hugh and Divine on the news-the lead story, mind you-and I had to sit down and take some oxygen," said Ethan E. Marten, Atlantic's VP of marketing. "I was holding my breath overnight, not knowing what to expect, but.... orders went up 30% from the day before."

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