When Lizzie Grubman opens a newspaper, she doesn’t read it the way you or I might. “Everything in the newspaper, or in magazines like Us Weekly and In Touch—it’s all contrived,” she says. “I could pick up any magazine and tell you precisely what’s true and what’s not true. Because that’s what I do.”
Take, for example, a recent front-page flap that Grubman recounts in classic blind-item style: Which publicity-friendly celebrity, perhaps upset over the increased attention granted her recently engaged reality-show co-star, claimed to have had her electronic organizer hacked into and her celebrity contacts revealed to the world?
“I 100 percent don’t believe it,” says Lizzie, practically snorting and obviously referring to the Paris Hilton kerfuffle. “I mean, please. People are calling me all weekend, worried about prank phone calls. I tell them, don’t change your number yet. The FBI is looking into it? I don’t think so.”
This is the kind of insider dish that Lizzie Grubman loves, and loves to share. She knows the real story, and she wants you to know she knows. But the founder and owner of Lizzie Grubman PR is also savvy enough to understand that her livelihood’s built on relationships—the kind she doesn’t want to sour with flippant quotes in the media. So she toggles back and forth between on-the-record and off-the-record as though she’s bilingual and switching languages. To a lot of questions, she’ll give well-prepped, boilerplate answers, but when she gets going on a juicy topic, she gets animated. She shifts forward to perch on the edge of a long white sofa in her Upper East Side duplex, against a backdrop of top-dollar city views. The room is spare and the carpet is stained—she throws a lot of slumber parties, she says—and it feels like the home of someone who isn’t home very much. She tells me how she “made” several celebrities, from Tara Reid to the rapper Ja Rule. She says she engineered Jay-Z’s crossover into the mainstream, which took her all of four days to accomplish.
Not only that, but she invented hip-hop. Well, not invented, exactly, but she made sure middle-class white people discovered it. “No one believed in hip-hop but me. Everyone was like, ‘Lizzie, are you sure you’re going to be able to get this in the mainstream?’ ” She leans in. “But I would beat those reporters down, and look at it now. There’s nothing bigger. Everyone looks at me now and says, ‘You were so right.’ ” Then she sits back on the sofa and says, with an almost mystical lilt, “I can see things that nobody else can see.”
Of course, all this makes it hard to believe her when, later, she claims to be shocked—shocked!—about a paparazzi photo of her in workout gear, sprawled over an exercise ball at her gym, which appeared in that morning’s New York Post, under the headline THIN LIZZIE GETTING REALITY-READY.
“Can you believe they put this on page 3? Page 3!” she says. “I’m practically naked!” She’s not really that perturbed, of course; the photo, after all, is essentially a full-color plug for her upcoming MTV reality show, Power Girls. She shrugs. “I’m used to it. Besides, the Post would never hurt me. I’m totally in bed with the Post.”