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It's a Steal of a Deal, and Court TV Hopes a Trend

October 11, 2004 12:00 AM

The story of a retired jewel thief could make a great TV show. Or a good movie. As it turns out, it is both projects, now tied together by an innovative deal between Court TV and New Line Cinema. To launch the campaign for its new picture "After the Sunset," an action comedy starring Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek opening Nov. 12, New Line is doing a multimillion-dollar promotion with Court TV tied to the show "Masterminds." Court TV will air a two-minute trailer for "After the Sunset" during a "Masterminds" episode Oct. 22 titled "Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief." The episode is the true story of Bill Mason, who burgled from Frank Sinatra, Phyllis Diller, Robert Goulet, Johnny Weissmuller and others. "It just seemed like a really good fit for us," said Robin Seidner D'Elia, New Line's VP of national television promotions and marketing. She said Mr. Mason "seems like the mirror image of Pierce Brosnan's character. "It's just a home run." Court TV, which is trying to be less O.J. Simpson and more "Ocean's 11," hopes this is the beginning of a trend. "We're working with [studios] to make that happen," said Debbie Reichig, Court TV senior VP of sales strategy. "To break through the clutter you have to make sure there is a 360-degree marketing effort, not just spots."


Team Branding

Worried about competition from blockbuster movies? Not ESPN, which believes if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. In "Mr. 3000," the female lead was an ESPN reporter. In "Dodgeball," the climactic game was covered by the fictional "ESPN 8-The Ocho." Next year, look for ESPN to pop up in "Fantastic Four," "Herbie: Fully Loaded" and "The Longest Yard." Chris LaPlaca, ESPN's senior VP of consumer communications, said placements are usually initiated by outside inquires and are not paid plugs. "We don't engage in this for monetary reasons. We engage in it to extend our brand," he said. Not everyone cheered, however, when the reporter in "Mr. 3000" slept with her source. Mr. LaPlaca noted, "She had a previous relationship with him before she became an ESPN reporter." Still, some projects strike out, such as a recent offer to be in a movie that involved sports gambling.

--James Hibberd

Cause Celeb

That is actress and author Mimi Kennedy as first lady Laura Bush in a new play by Emmy winner Tony Kushner ("Angels In America") called "Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy." You may know Ms. Kennedy as Abby O'Neil, the hippie mother she portrayed for five seasons on the sitcom "Dharma & Greg." Now Ms. Kennedy and fellow actress Sally Field will both portray Ms. Bush in a benefit production of the play Oct. 18 in Hollywood. First published in The Nation magazine, it depicts Ms. Bush reading "The Brothers Karamazov" to Iraqi children in heaven as an angel stands beside them. "I think it's a very compassionate portrait of Laura Bush," Ms. Kennedy said. "I don't know if she would think so, but it's an empathic portrait. The psychology is very real and accurate." The performance benefits Progressive Democrats of America and the Progressive Majority. "The fact that children are dying [in Iraq)] needs to be addressed," Ms. Kennedy said. "How do you defend goodness in the face of dead children?"