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McNeil Wilson Communications

McNeil Wilson Communications is proud to have worked with some of the best companies in Hawaii and beyond. See what we have done and what we are capable of doing for you.

Kauai’s Celebration of “The Descendants”

1003 Bishop Street
Pauahi Tower, 9th Floor
Honolulu, HI 96813
T 808.531.0244
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McNeil Wilson Communications, Inc

The Descendants, the award-winning movie starring George Clooney, is based on the critically acclaimed debut novel by Hawaii resident Kaui Hart Hemmings. The movie opened in theaters nationwide in late 2011 and soon began garnering plaudits from film critics. The honors culminated with the movie being nominated for five Academy Awards on January 24, 2012.

McNeil Wilson Communications (MWC), the public relations firm for the Kauai Visitors Bureau (KVB), seized on this unique opportunity to capitalize on the glitz of the Oscars by organizing a Kauai-themed media party in Los Angeles before the Academy Awards ceremony on February 26.

Since Kauai’s magnificent natural beauty is at the center of the movie’s storyline, the event’s objectives were to showcase the island, and to thank media in Kauai’s #1 market for their continued support.

“A Celebration of The Descendants,” the February 23 reception was created to honor Ms. Hemmings for her artistic triumph and let media share in a special evening inspired by Kauai’s beauty and appeal.

To ensure strong attendance, MWC secured the luxurious SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills for the reception and designed a compelling event program. Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho honored Ms. Hemmings with a proclamation from the County of Kauai. Beautiful Hawaiian music was performed by Cyril Pahinui – son of legendary Gabby “Pops” Pahinui whose songs grace the film’s soundtrack – and Jeff Peterson, the Grammy Award-winning slack-key guitarist whose artistry is heard during the movie. Their music was accompanied by a hula dancer who dazzled the crowd with her elegant performance. Guests enjoyed Hawaiian inspired cuisine and beverages. Posters highlighting Kauai’s scenic beauty were displayed.

More than 40 guests attended the celebration, of which three-fourths were travel and consumer media. Two of the movie’s stars,
Patricia Hastie (George Clooney’s onscreen wife) and Matt Corboy (Cousin Ralph), attended as did the music supervisor, Dondi Bastone, adding a “Hollywood” flair to the event.

MWC engaged the media in a fun, festive setting and shared stories about Kauai and the making of the movie. Each journalist received Kauai treats, a signed copy of the book, and Kauai press kit. In true island style, the joyous evening ended with everyone joining hands for the singing of Hawaii’s state song,
Hawaii Ponoi. A news release was distributed to media in Hawaii and nationally.

MWC targeted top Los Angeles-area travel media with invitations to attend. An excellent mix of more than 30 traditional journalists and bloggers were secured, including:


  • Rosemary McClure, travel writer, Los Angeles Times
  • Peter Caranicas, deputy editor, Variety 
  • Shira Lazar, reporter, “On the Scene” and contributor for “The Tomorrow Show” on
  • Jeanne Cooper, travel writer and blogger, Hawaii Insider,, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Tim Wassberg, producer, Inside Reel
  • Laura Hubber, reporter, BBC World Service
  • Lark Gould, travel news editor,

MWC received a budget for event costs, which covered the hosting of the reception, including facility rentals, dinner menu, entertainment, and floral arrangements. It also covered travel costs for a Kauai team of eight, including airfare, accommodations, ground transportation, and daily per diem.

MWC planned and organized The Descendants celebration over a three-week period. The reception was a great success, executed flawlessly, met the objectives, and the client was elated. Media had a wonderful time and enjoyed seeing Kauai in a different light. Our media pitching, before and after the reception, generated more than 40 stories, including coverage by heavy hitters like the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area News Group. The news coverage highlighted Kauai as an alluring destination and strengthened the bond between fans of The Descendants to the Garden Isle.