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The World Is Flat Matt's

October 24, 2005 12:00 AM

"Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?" begins its seventh annual race around the globe Monday, Nov. 7, but several hundred pint-sized flat Matts already have hit the road to get "Today" viewers in the mood for Mr. Lauer's annual mileage marathon. In the spirit of the phenomenon spawned by popular kids' book "Flat Stanley," in which a paper-thin boy is mailed to visit his friends, The NBC Agency recently began mailing some 600 1½-foot-tall cardboard cutouts of Mr. Lauer to NBC stations and other points throughout the country and world. The mini-Matts are accompanied by instructions to take still or moving pictures of Flat Matt in interesting locations-in Paris, for example, Flat Matt got a bike ride along the Champs-Elysees-and send the photos to the network in New York for promotional use. In addition to spots on NBC, NBC Agency East Coast Senior VP Frank Radice is buying off-network TV promotional time in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Mr. Radice and Agency senior writer-producer Miranda Patterson Taylor are encouraging NBC affiliates to be creative with Flat Matt. At least one is said be planning a Flat Matt scavenger hunt, with the winner going to New York to see "Today" in person. -MICHELE GREPPI

Inferno of Rock

This year's version of rock 'n' roll heaven felt more like the fiery pits of hell. The 2005 Austin City Limits Festival, sponsored by the PBS concert series "Austin City Limits," which just launched its 30th season, barely escaped Hurricane Rita, and thankfully, the bands played on. "ACL" is the longest-running concert music program on U.S. TV, offering uninterrupted sets by an eclectic mix of artists ranging from country to rock. Hurricane Rita threatened the Texas coastline just hours before the festival began, but ended up missing Austin. Instead festival goers and performers alike got hit by 108-degree weather and winds that turned Zilker Park into a dust bowl. Still, some 75,000 fans a day flocked through the blazing heat to watch 130 bands on eight stages. The lineup included Coldplay, Oasis, Death Cab for Cutie and Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand (who appear on the TV series Nov. 19). Conditions got so severe that people-with face kerchiefs, umbrellas and water bottles and wearing as little clothing as possible-started to wish it would rain. -Contributed By HAYLEY TAYLOR BLOCK

VH1 Angling for More 'Brady'

VH1 is in negotiations for a second season of its reality series "My Fair Brady," which documents the relationship between former "Brady Bunch" star Christopher Knight and first-season "America's Next Top Model" winner Adrianne Curry. The series has been an under-the-radar success for the network this summer, averaging about 1 million viewers despite being outpublicized by media reports on VH1's other, lesser-rated, docu-soap, "Breaking Bonaduce," which has chronicled Danny Bonaduce's on-screen mental collapse. If only VH1 could do "Breaking Brady," ratings might really take off. -JAMES HIBBERD

A&E Rolling on Auto Series

A&E has followed bounty hunters, magicians, tattoo artists, Mafia princesses, morticians and airline workers. What's next? Car salesmen. A&E is very near a green light for "King of Cars," a docu-soap reality series following the staff of a Dodge dealership in Nevada. A&E first profiled the company in an episode of its program "It's a Living." Sources said the show will have a sort of "Boiler Room" quality, with a staff of young Turks vying for the next big sale. The series will be produced by Hybrid Films, which also makes "Dog the Bounty Hunter" for the network. A&E had no comment, though the network is presumably hoping for high mileage and low maintenance. -James Hibberd

One Degree of Separation

Turns out that Catherine Martin, the White House aide who is among those reportedly interviewed by the special prosecutor's team investigating the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, has a special connection at the top of the Federal Communications Commission: She is the wife of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. There's no indication that Ms. Martin, a White House deputy director of communications, is in hot water herself over Ms. Plame's outing. But she was previously a top communications adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, and the special prosecutor's office appears to be focusing its investigation on the Vice President's Office. Ms. Martin did not return calls last week and Mr. Martin declined comment. -DOUG HALONEN