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Koonin's 'Nightmare' Traffic

July 3, 2006 12:00 AM

Steve Koonin, general manager of Turner Broadcasting's TNT and TBS, just lost a wager.

Mr. Koonin bet his promotion department that no one would notice that a big fold-out ad in Entertainment Weekly for the upcoming Stephen King anthology series "Nightmares & Dreamscapes" notes that the show is sponsored by Hyundai yet features a picture of a Pontiac.

Mr. Koonin, the former marketing whiz at Coca-Cola, said there was no mistake.

A Pontiac Firebird is almost a character in one of the stories, "The Road Virus Heads North." In the show, Tom Berenger-who is shown driving a Chrysler-is pursued by a menacing Firebird depicted in a painting that he bought.

"It would have been very difficult to say we're going to switch Stephen King to a Hyundai because we sold it," he said. "Nobody promised them product placement exclusivity and more importantly, they wouldn't want us to rewrite a classic piece like 'Road Virus.'"

A spokesman for Hyundai, sponsor of the series' commercial-free premiere episode on July 12, did not return calls.