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Old MacDonald Had a Call Letter Recall

April 3, 2006 12:00 AM

The WB's comedic drama "Pepper Dennis" profiles the personal and private life of a Chicago TV reporter who is a member of the fictitious WEIE-TV news team. Casting model-turned-actress Rebecca Romijn was a no-brainer. Casting the call letters for the station wasn't so easy. Initially, co-creators Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts wanted WEYE-TV and the sign-off "Eye on Chicago," but those didn't clear with the network, perhaps because CBS's longtime logo is an eye. In the interest of saving time, Ms. Berg and Mr. Harberts asked the network for call letters that would clear, and the similar "WEIE" was at the top of the list. That the suggested station name brings to mind the lyrics to "Old MacDonald" was an added appeal for the creators. "We probably do too much wordplay for our own good," she said. The sign-off also transitioned, becoming "Windy City News Now." "Pepper" debuts April 4 at 9 p.m. (ET).

-Christopher Lisotta

Those Were the Days

If you're nostalgic for interoffice affairs, three-martini lunches, sexual liberation and selling cigarettes, "Mad Men" will be your kind of show. The one-hour pilot AMC commissioned from Radical Media about Madison Avenue in the '60s follows Don Draper, the 30-something creative director of the Sterling Cooper agency, "a white, old-fashioned advertising firm that's about to be left behind," according to Matt Weiner, the writer-director. Mr. Weiner, who created the dramedy, has a more blunt description: "A lot of f**king and drinking and very, very wry and funny." And ironic, he said: "The people are aware of the fact that what they're doing is bulls**t." If it sounds a bit "Sopranos"-like, there's a reason. After years of passing around the script to no avail, it landed in the hands of "Sopranos" creator David Chase, who hired Mr. Weiner to write several episodes of the HBO mob drama in seasons five and six. Rob Sorcher, AMC's exec VP of programming and productions, started out as an advertising copywriter at Benton & Bowles, "a place that still had all those guys from a previous era." Despite its setting, he said, the show offers a social commentary for today. And AMC is optimistic "Mad Men" will elicit high interest among advertisers. "I just know that everybody in the Mafia's watching 'The Sopranos,'" Mr. Sorcher said.

-Abbey Klaassen and Lisa Sanders, Advertising Age

'24' to FSN Prime Ticket's Rescue

As part of its rebranding from FSN West 2 to FSN Prime Ticket, the sports cable channel is enlisting the help of an elite resource: the fictitious government agency CTU from Fox Network's drama series "24." Promos announcing the name change feature L.A. Clipper Elton Brand calling "Agent Curtis Manning" (the show's Roger Cross) on the actual "24" set, warning him of a "situation" in Los Angeles. Agent Manning enlists the help of the band Queen to play "an appropriate sports anthem," and band member Brian May suggests "We Will Rock You." All this preparation culminates April 3, when "a game will be played, and a new identity will be born" during a televised L.A. Dodgers game, with the promo characters, real and fictional, coming together with Dodger legend Tommy Lasorda to help launch the new FSN Prime Ticket name. Here's hoping nothing "24"-like actually happens at the game.

-Christopher Lisotta