"These are matters that I do not think concern the public," said Kennedy Center Chairman Roger L. Stevens when asked for a report he commissioned last summer from Gray & Co., the PR firm of Republican big shot Robert K. Gray. After receiving it, the center gave Gray's firm its lucrative advertising account. Stevens said the report was "just suggestions on how to sell tickets," a subject of interest because ticket sales at the center have been lagging. Apparently problems with the report didn't stop the advertising deal. "It isn't very interesting," said Stevens. "The fellow that did it at Gray & Co. was all mixed up . . . The people that did it were not well enough informed. They made a number of errors. So we sat down with Bob Gray . . . and worked out a contract between ourselves for the advertising." This was good, Stevens said, because the advertising firm that previously had the center's account is in New York, and that was "inconvenient." The report has "been destroyed and forgotten."
The Gray & Co. report was done by Joan Braden and Barry Zorthian, vice presidents of the firm. Braden was formerly the State Department's consumer affairs coordinator and Zorthian was once chief spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. "I did bring the Kennedy Center in as a client," said Braden. "Roger Stevens is an old and dear friend of mine . . . It's my account. Zorthian is not on it." As for the report, she said Zorthian, who could not be reached for comment, did work on it in its early stages. She said it was up to Stevens to release it. A top Gray & Co. executive, who asked not to be identified, said Stevens and other Kennedy Center managers felt they needed the report "to determine whether they were communicating properly with the public and internally." According to this executive, Gray & Co. got the advertising account because "There was a dissatisfaction with the level of creativity with the previous firm. Roger Stevens was impressed with the creative way we do business."