Chatter: The Rookies

Still more proof that Philly ain’t what it used to be (or that the Rapture is just around the corner): A city with no celebrities now has a celebrity–marketing agency. Owned and run by Mollie Plotkin and Ellen -Barkann, the Philadelphia Sports Group mostly represents figures of the local-anchor strata of fame: former Eagles QB and Soul president Ron Jaworski, Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock, Comcast SportsNet host (and Ellen’s husband) Michael Barkann. But the company also reps at least one truly legitimate national celebrity—TNT basketball commentator and former 76er Charles Barkley.

PSG was born about a year and a half ago out of Plotkin’s inability to find well-known local athletes to attend a charity event. She told Barkann how surprised she was that no one specialized in promoting sports personalities for such gigs. Instead of forgetting their frustrations, the duo decided to fill the niche themselves. They now market their clients for everything from motivational speeches to autograph shows.

Through her husband, Barkann already knew local figures such as Hitchcock and Larry Bowa, but she dismisses the notion that he helped land clients. “Of course I have contacts from being married to Mike,” she says. “But I put myself out there. I made the contacts myself.” The clients don’t seem to have any complaints; PSG’s roster has quadrupled in the past year. “Athletes like us because we’re all business,” Barkann explains.