Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson turned publicist for his aunt last year (12), when she was a passenger aboard the ill-fated cruise Costa Concordia, by connecting her with media outlets covering survival stories of the disaster.

The luxury liner ran aground off the coast of Italy last year (Jan12) after striking a reef in the Mediterranean Sea. More than 30 people were killed.

The Modern Family star's aunt, Alex Beach, who was vacationing on the ship, escaped unscathed, and Ferguson reveals she has become a local celebrity in their native New Mexico as a result of her experience.

He tells U.S. Tv host David Letterman, "She survived and then she was doing a lot of press, like international press actually, and I was fielding calls for her, from like CNN and getting people in touch with her. And she kind of hit the ground running with some press. She's an embellisher, she makes a very colourful story.

"The international stuff and the bigger stuff has definitely died off, but now she's been doing local stuff... and she has a PowerPoint (computer) presentation that she brings (to interviews)."