Top of the News
AND NOW, HEEERE'S NORMAN!
Now that he's won the Persian Gulf War, Stormin' Norman's next conquest is civilian life. The plan of attack, drawn up with an agent's help: capture millions of dollars in a book deal. Follow up with strategic deployment of high-impact speeches. Primary target: a cushy commentator deal with network television.
Still basking in the afterglow of victory, General Norman Schwarzkopf launched his campaign on May 6, when he signed with International Creative Management Inc., one of Hollywood's top literary and talent agencies. His timing couldn't be better. ICM says hundreds of letters are pouring in each day with offers for the general to endorse everything from environmental protection to military toys. "Norman Schwarzkopf is the biggest star in America today," says Warren J. Cowan, chairman of Rogers & Cowan Inc., a Los Angeles entertainment public relations firm. "Bigger than Madonna."
For now, at least. But just because the Queen of England may be about to award Schwarzkopf an honorary knighthood doesn't mean he'll play in Peoria a year from now. So the general is moving out before his fame starts to fade.
NO WHEATIES. The first step, upon his retirement from the military in August, is a book deal that could easily top $5 million, says Norman Brokaw, chief executive of the William Morris Agency, an ICM rival that also wooed Schwarzkopf. Rights to a movie or miniseries will probably fetch $1 million more, says Brokaw, who has looked after the Hollywood interests of such old soldiers as Generals Omar Bradley and Alexander Haig. Four-star speaking engagements should haul in up to $75,000 a pop in the U. S. and even more overseas.
One thing you won't see is Schwarzkopf ordering you to eat your Wheaties or drink Diet Pepsi, according to his literary agent, Marvin Josephson. "The guy is for real," says Josephson, whose other clients are Barbara Walters and Henry Kissinger. "He's not out to exploit his newfound fame and affection."
With loot about to pour in from books and movies and speeches, who needs exploitation? But that's not stopping others from cashing in on Schwarzkopf-mania. On May 7, America West Airlines Inc. kicked off an ad campaign featuring comedian Jonathan Winters as a burly general delivering a briefing on the carrier's "air superiority."
Winters will soon have lots of company. Requests for Norman clones are coming in from ad agencies representing one of the Big Three auto makers, a weight-loss company, and even from "a dozen crazy ladies who want to get as close as they can to the next best thing," says Robert Hughes of Ron Smith's Celebrity Look-Alikes agency.
What's next for the real thing after the book and movie deal? Invitations to join corporate boards are flooding in. But in the general's home state, politicians have other plans. "Everyone talks about the corporate world, but I think he'd get bored to death," says Florida GOP Chairman Van B. Poole. He's trying to persuade Schwarzkopf to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Graham in 1992. A statewide poll of 843 registered voters released on May 14 showed 43% would vote for Graham, while 39% liked Schwarzkopf. "The question is if he can jump from Desert Storm to Everglades muck," says GOP strategist Kevin Philips. "He's never run a political campaign."
For now, politics and business may not appeal as much as TV, a medium that's demonstrably Schwarzkopf-friendly. Josephson wants to land Schwarzkopf a spot as a network news commentator, though it's not clear what he'll talk about when there's not a war on. Josephson even has visions of the general someday hosting his own current-affairs show. After his performances live from Riyadh, the general is definitely ready for prime time.Eric Schine in Los Angeles, with Gail DeGeorge in Miami