Real-life adventure: Trapped in an elevator with PR people!

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What do you call a dozen high-level PR people and one journalist trapped in an elevator in the basement of the Harvard Club?

A good start?

Dinner?

So asked Ad Age reporter Matthew Creamer, who had the misfortune (or fortune, depending on your point of view) of being the one journalist in an ornery elevator Feb. 21. The elevator in question nearly derailed the Arthur W. Page Society's New York networking dinner when it decided to take a one-way trip to the basement. And the uncooperative box happened to be stuffed full of Page Society members and guests journeying from pre-dinner cocktails to the main event (there's a lesson in there somewhere about leaving the bar).

Following the thudding landing, it became clear the doors wouldn't be opening, leaving a who's who of PR-including Richard Edelman, Dartmouth University's Paul Argenti, Page Society Senior Counselor Roger Bolton-stuck to grow dewy and perhaps a bit anxious.

Say what you will about PR pros, but hysterical they ain't. Despite being without cellphone and BlackBerry service for almost 20 minutes, not one of them Knealed out: no hissy fits, no crying jags, no claustrophobic freakouts. Of course, some of them still had cocktails in hand to get them through the ordeal.

During the slightly sweaty 20 minutes it took for the doors to be opened, there were the requisite waggish jokes about it being a good thing PRWeek or Jack O'Dwyer wasn't in attendance. Tim Andree, North American CEO of Dentsu and the event's sponsor, tried to put his former-basketball player's height to good use by pushing fruitlessly on the elevator's ceiling.

In fact, they were so level-headed, no one even tried to declare the episode "off the record."

Worshiping at the altar of Miss Paula

Tough week all around for Ad Age staff. Matthew Creamer gets trapped in an elevator full of flacks and Adages gets trapped at a table at Manhattan barbecue joint Blue Smoke, forced to eat hush puppies, deviled eggs, cookies, brownies, ribs, catfish and Paula Deen's Southern fried chicken. Why we don't get hazard pay for this job is a mystery to us.

The event was a Ladies' Home Journal lunch held in honor of Deen, star of the Food Network, author of a coming memoir and the March cover model. As we noted two weeks ago, when writing about those nekkid Dove grannies gracing the ad pages of LHJ, we're big fans of Miss Paula (that's how we address people in the South). Apparently, we're not the only ones. LHJ Editor in Chief Diane Salvatore called the lunch "the most fun event" the magazine has had since she's been there. When Jeannine Shao Collins was told about the lunch, she "squealed with delight." Apparently she's on the record as saying that if she were ever to be executed, Paula's Southern fried chicken would be her last-meal request.

And Miss Paula? She said of her fame, "Only in America can this happen to a 60-year-old, overweight, gray-headed woman."

She also talked about her appearance on "Oprah," which involved a misbehaving blender. "I couldn't have staged that. My first thought was, the glass bowl is gonna crunch up into a million pieces and fly in Oprah's eye and she's gonna be blinded! I'd be responsible for blindin' Oprah."

If you don't get the whole Paula Deen phenomenon, we pity you. But Adages would like to point out that Brother Adages was even impressed by this celebrity encounter. If Adages told Brother Adages we'd won the Nobel Prize for literature, he'd ask us why we hadn't won the real Nobel Prize, the one for economics. If we told him we'd won the lottery, he'd simply say, "Yeah, good luck retiring on that ... especially with the way you drink."

His response to the above photo?

"That's freakin' cool. I wish I were you sometimes!" (Note, he even used an exclamation point.)

Contributing: Matthew Creamer

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