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Oscar telecast wants dignity in its ad spots

Monday, February 23, 2004

Don't look for any flatulent horses or impotence cures during commercial breaks at the Academy Awards.

The motion picture academy has an unusual hands-on policy to monitor advertising during the Oscars, approving each commercial and enforcing a strict set of rules regarding what can be shown.

It will be nothing like the raucous Super Bowl free-for-all.

"We want the show to reflect, not a stuffiness, but a dignity appropriate for film's highest honor," said Ric Robertson, executive administrator for the motion picture academy.

The awards show, to be telecast tomorrow on ABC, is often dubbed the "Super Bowl for women" and frequently is the year's second most-watched program after the football championship.

ABC is charging a record $1.5 million for a 30-second Oscar ad, and the show has been sold out since September. CBS took in $2.3 million for a half-minute of ad time on the Super Bowl.

Like the game's infamous halftime show, Super Bowl advertising featured excess and questionable taste. Besides Bud Light's gaseous horses, there was a crotch-biting dog, Cedric the Entertainer's bikini wax, a kilt-wearer enjoying a blast of cold air to his nether regions and several spots for erectile dysfunction medication.

Levitra-pusher Mike Ditka will be benched during the Oscars. There will be no pharmaceutical ads at all during the show, ABC said.

Some of the academy's Oscar ad rules, which have been in place for at least two decades:

No feminine hygiene products.

No mention of "Oscars," the Academy Awards or any kind of awards show. Robertson forced one advertiser whose script included people sitting in the Oscars audience to remove the reference.

No use of an Oscar nominee or presenter in any ad. Catherine Zeta-Jones' telephone company commercials, for instance, were forbidden when she was a nominee last year.

No ads that mention or use clips from nominated films. In fact, the Oscars prohibit all movie ads; the academy doesn't want any questions raised if a studio that advertised heavily wins a lot of Oscars.

No mixed messages. The academy accepts ads from only one car company -- this year it's Cadillac -- so no other advertiser can show any other car in its commercial.

Although ABC grants an occasional wish to a star -- vegetarian Paul McCartney didn't want hamburger ads during his music special -- the network gives no one but the academy such power over its advertising, said Geri Wang, ABC senior vice president for ad sales.

"They are preserving the exclusive sanctity of this one show, because there's no other show like this -- bar none," Wang said.

(David Bauder, Associated Press)

Catholic scandal on Showtime

Showtime ordered production of a movie on Thursday about sex abuse within the Catholic church. The movie, "Our Fathers," will be based on a book about the church scandal written by Newsweek's David France.

"We have no intention of making this movie exploitative," said Robert Greenblatt, Showtime's entertainment president. "But when I read France's book, I was compelled to make this movie because the majority of the public has no idea how widespread or complex this issue is or how faithful Catholics were deceived in such epic proportions."

Casting is under way with pre-production to begin in April.

The movie will focus on individuals who were allegedly abused and the crusading lawyers who challenged the church, Showtime said.


'Idol' contestant out

The first contestant has been removed from Fox's "American Idol," and the good people at had nothing to do with it. After a Monday morning arrest on suspicion of drunken driving, Donnie Williams was removed from the Final 32 on the wildly popular talent show.

News of William's removal is no surprise to the show's millions of fans. Williams had been scheduled to perform on next week's "American Idol." However, when host Ryan Seacrest announced next week's contestants at the end of Wednesday night's episode, Williams was nowhere to be seen, replaced with George Huff of New Orleans.

Williams was pulled over early Monday morning when police near his California hometown clocked him allegedly driving around 100 mph. He was cited but not booked, and police reported that his blood alcohol was over the legal limit.

"While understanding that Donnie has not been convicted of a crime, the producers and network feel that the nature of the charges against him warrant his disqualification," read a Fox statement issued on Wednesday.

This eviction spoils what had been a relatively quiet season for "American Idol." Last season, an assortment of arrests, buried secrets and tawdry revelations threatened to overshadow the actual performances. Frenchie Davis and Jaered Andrews were pulled from the show before making their Round of 32 appearances, while Corey Clark had to be dismissed in the middle of the Finals after it was discovered that he was facing trial for assault. Another contestant, Lashundra "Tre-nyce" Cobbins was allowed to stay in the game even after a youthful shoplifting conviction became public.

This season, "Idol" producers were very open in admitting a more stringent system of background checks.


Programming updates

The controversy over radio shock jock Howard Stern and the decision to pull him from some radio stations will be the subject on CNN today between 12 and 1 p.m. Former PCNC "NightTalk" host John McIntire is expected to be on discussing the issue.

WNPA will air a live debate among Democratic presidential candidates tomorrow at 11 a.m. It will be re-broadcast on KDKA at 12:37 a.m. Monday.

WTAE will pre-empt a portion of ABC's prime-time schedule Tuesday for a University of Pittsburgh basketball game, airing from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. "Entertainment Tonight" will not be seen, but three ABC sitcoms have been rescheduled for after midnight Tuesday. "8 Simple Rules ..." will air at 1:20 a.m. "I'm With Her" will air at 1:50 a.m. "According to Jim" will air at 2:20 a.m. All times are approximate.

On Thursday, PCNC will telecast the ordination and installation of Bishop-elect Lawrence Brandt of Greensburg from 2 to 5 p.m.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV editor)

Poetry for charity

WEDO-AM (810) host Gary Greisinger (better known on air as Gary G) has published a book of poetry written by his late daughter Cathy, who died in a fire last May. She was 27.

Proceeds from the sale of "The Spirit of Poetry" by Catherine Helen Greisinger will go to the Cathy G Charities foundation, which Gresinger set up in her memory to aid area charities, including Make A Wish, Children's Hospital Free Care Fund, Epilepsy Foundation, Salvation Army and the Humane Society.

Gresinger's annual Christmas season "Blanket Brigade" collection of coats, blankets and toys was inspired by his daughter.

The book is available at Borders stores and Journeys of Life in Shadyside for $9.95 and online for a $17 donation to

By Adrian McCoy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Vintage show moves

Oldies host Caveman Ralph and his "Vintage Vinyl Show" have moved to WKFB-AM (770), airing Saturdays from 7:15 to 10 a.m. It had been on WZUM-AM (1590).


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