|“||We all know that fame's a monster, and here you are poking it with a stick.||”|
From TNT: To take down a corrupt PR consultant, the Leverage team must build him up as a hero, then use his own methods against him.
State's attorney Ed Kelly, a childhood friend of Nate's. Kelly, who is currently up for re-election is being targeted by Reed Rockwell, a professional character assassin. Hired by Kelly's opposing candidate, Rockwell is using faked evidence to lead the media to a youthful indiscretion, thus creating a scandal that will cost Kelly the election.
Reed Rockwell, a publicity-shy PR expert, who will use any methods necessary to protect his clients. Rockwell specializes in publicity designed to destroy the reputations of public figures using ambiguous or falsified evidence. Rockwell has expertise in photo manipulation used to make it appear his targets have engaged in questionable activities.
Rockwell has a secret himself, a fatal car accident that happened when he was young, and where he was driving. Rockwell manipulated evidence to make it appear he was a passenger, resulting one of his friends being convicted of manslaughter.
Nate tells the team that in order to take down Rockwell, they first have to build up his reputation and make him famous. They try staging various opportunities for him to be a hero: Eliot "steals" Parker's purse in front of him, Hardison pretends to choke on a hot dog, and Sophie chases after a runaway baby stroller, to no avail. Reed Rockwell is so self-absorbed he refuses to get involved. So the team stages a robbery at his local coffee shop with Hardison as the robber and Sophie and Eliot as store patrons. Eliot subtly runs into Rockwell making him fall on Hardison which then foils Hardison's robbery attempt. However, instead of staying and taking credit Rockwell runs away.
Hardison cleans up the security video from the robbery and makes it look like Rockwell was trying to tackle "the robber". The footage gains media attention as people try to figure out who this mysterious hero is. Rockwell begins to enjoy the privileges of fame, Eliot and Hardison congratulate him on the street, he gets Parker's number and he gets free coffee, when Nate steps in as his PR manager. As Rockwell gets more press he tries to payoff a woman he knew in high school who he was in a car accident with. The team discovers he killed a girl while driving drunk, then framed another passenger for vehicular manslaughter, and that the fall guy is still in jail. They coach the woman (the fall guy's girlfriend) who he tried to payoff to ask for a bigger payout. When Rockwell goes to deliver the hush money the team stages a new car accident and alters the footage to make it look like Rockwell caused it and ran away from the scene.
The police pick him up and he tries to tell them he was being blackmailed and didn't cause the accident, but when he opens his briefcase to show them the payoff money he finds pictures incriminating him in his high school car accident. The State's Attorney he tried to frame comes in and arrests him for both crimes.
- The episode gets its title from the 1968 quote by Andy Warhol, "In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes." The expression 15 minutes of fame has become a cultural idiom, describing short-lived media attention to an individual or event.
- Nate has to devise a con that will, in effect, destroy him, because there are a lot of parallels between him and the mark, Reed Rockwell. As the con progresses Nate becomes more erratic and clashes with Eliot, at one point telling him to take a break from the con.
- In the episode Hardison and Parker talk about CGI, there is a bit about old yoda vs CGI yoda, and Hardison says to Parker "Why don't you ask me to join the dark side" which both refer to Star Wars.
- The cashier in the coffee shop was played by Beth Riesgraf's older sister Mary Riesgraf.
- Knowing that the show usually makes geeky references, the user name that Hardison spoofs 'Underhill24601' is probably a nod to both Lord of the Rings and Les Miserables--Underhill being the name that Frodo travels under and 24601 being the prison ID number for Jean Valjean.