Tarnished Stars Find Ways to Get Their Shine Back

Between Alec Baldwin's memorable phone message to his daughter, Lindsay Lohan's drug and alcohol infractions and Britney Spears', well, everything, Hollywood seems to get as much attention for its stars as it does their dust-ups.

But if history is any indication, this year's crop of scandal-tarred celebrities will bounce back -- if they haven't already.

According to Shawn Sachs, a partner at New York's Sunshine, Sachs & Associates, a public relations firm that represents politicians and celebrities including Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio, the media and its audience are very forgiving.

"They enjoy the pendulum shift," he explains. "They may love to tear you down, but then they love to build you back up."

Click here to see some stars who have battled back at our partner site, Forbes.com.

Consider Eddie Murphy. After being caught red-handed with a transvestite prostitute in 1997, he managed to come back big with box office hits "Doctor Dolittle", "Norbit" and "Dreamgirls", among others. The latter not only earned $103.4 million at the domestic box office, but also an Oscar nomination for Murphy.

And there seems to be little career fall-out from Russell Crowe's phone-wielding altercation with a New York hotel concierge in 2005. He's still snagging lead roles in high-profile flicks, including the critically acclaimed "3:10 to Yuma" and this month's "American Gangster" opposite Denzel Washington.

"Hollywood is held to a very different standard," explains Eric Dezenhall, a Washington, D.C.-based damage control specialist and the author of Damage Control. "There is no pretense of morality."

Of course, there are some scandals that aren't granted leniency, no matter how well-timed or sincere the apology.

Paul Reubens, a comedian known for his kid-friendly role as Pee Wee Herman learned that lesson. After two arrests -- one for indecent exposure at an adult movie theater in 1991, and another for possession of child pornography a decade later -- his career is finished.

Reubens is the exception. Like most things in Tinseltown, there is a right -- and wrong -- way to stage a comeback.

On the "don'ts" list: lying, says Sachs. "It's PR 101: End the story," he says of coming clean. "If you're lying and misleading and trying to spin while there's still an open-ended story out there, you're going to get caught because there's just too much media."

What it really comes down to is timing, says Dezenhall. His advice: "Go away for awhile and come back once the hurricane passes," he explains. "It's very difficult to rebuild your house in the middle of a storm. You just have to wait."

He applauds Lohan for doing just that. After two DUIs and a couple of stints in rehab, the struggling starlet has largely stayed away from the flashbulbs.

But the "just shut up" strategy, as veteran celebrity publicity Howard Bragman has dubbed it, comes with its own set of challenges. Namely: These people didn't get to be where they were by shutting up.

That's why Bragman, who most recently mopped up the mess of "Grey's Anatomy" cast-off Isaiah Washington, tries very hard to convince his clients that just because they can get press, doesn't mean they should. Instead, he advises they wait until they're ready to come clean because it's always better to make one apology and do it well, than have to re-apologize and create another news cycle.

In the meantime, crisis managers suggest disgraced celebrities focus on their art. Or, as Bragman puts it, "get back to what made you [a star] in the first place."

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