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You Can't Buy a Thrill

January 1, 2007 12:00 AM

The hottest ticket heading into the NATPE convention in Las Vegas is turning out once again to be CBS Television Distribution's annual market shindig. This year, Steely Dan is set up as the entertainment for the invitation-only affair, which in other years has offered up musical stylings from Elton John, Hall & Oates and the B-52s. While all the tickets for the bash are already spoken for, that doesn't mean there won't be other fun to be had, with parties and celebrity meet-and-greets thrown by the biggest players in the business, including NBC Universal International, Program Partners and several of the mobile companies attending the convention.

-Chris Pursell

Deck the Flight Deck

Maria Menounos and the rest of NBC Universal's "Access Hollywood" gang tore a page from President George W. Bush's playbook recently, visiting the troops on an aircraft carrier to help boost morale. "Access Hollywood" teamed up with the USO to stage a holiday concert for service members and their families on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan on Dec. 19 in San Diego Bay. Fox's "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks and his band performed along with NBC's "Last Comic Standing" winners Josh Blue and John Heffron. NBC's KNSD-TV secured sponsors to donate gifts including Subway sandwiches, Target gift cards and San Diego Zoo passes for attendees. Blink is willing to wager that Ms. Menounos did more to cheer the troops than did President Bush's landing on the U.S.S. Lincoln in 2003, when a banner on that aircraft carrier declared "Mission Accomplished."

-Greg Baumann

Presto Change-O

America may have talent, but a little investigation proves it to be decidedly lacking in taste. While scanning the most-viewed clips on YouTube, Blink discovered the top broadcast network clip of all time came from the NBC series "America's Got Talent." This two-minute gem features a married couple-David Michael Mass and Dania Kaseeva-who "magically" change costumes in a flash for the live audience. This kitschy, Vegas-like act drew an astounding 14 million-plus viewers on YouTube, and 11,000 users actually chose it as a favorite. (Really, America? Haven't you heard of "Dick in a Box"?) But wait, there's more: For those who can't get enough of this quick-changing duo, they have a Web site-cleverly named Costumechange.com-where fans can learn more about the art of rapidly changing costumes, watch footage and even book the duo for events. Now that's striking while the iron is hot.

-Stephanie Robbins

Impulse Buying

As early supporters of Fuse's "Pants Off Dance Off" and HBO's "Cathouse," TVWeek is always on the lookout for tawdry yet fascinating late-night cable fare. Last week our remote stumbled onto the Men's Outdoor Recreation Network and discovered the hypnotic yet hilarious "Shop Erotic," a home shopping program a la QVC, but for sex toys. Though the deals offered don't exactly seem like bargains (not that we'd, uh, know anything about adult toy pricing), you have not experienced the true power of the late-night multichannel universe until you've felt tempted to purchase a Tera's Wireless Heart-On at 1 a.m.

-James Hibberd

'Idol' vs. 'Idle'

While millions of viewers are getting ready to tune into Fox's "American Idol," Bravo is pitching "American Idle." That's the headline of the network's campaign for the second season of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," which, like "Idol," premieres Jan. 16. Jason Klarman, Bravo senior VP for marketing, said his team didn't know the shows would be starting on the same day when the network came up with the headline. The slogan and an "American Gothic"-style group shot of the wives are on posters being plastered all over New York and appear in publications, including Entertainment Weekly, Us and Star. "Idle" is a fun way of describing the housewives' lives, he said. "They're not as perfect as they would appear to be. They've got kids in trouble, they're having problems with their husbands, trouble at work. It's the real housewives, but they just happen to live in multimillion-dollar homes." Fortunately for Bravo, "Real Housewives" doesn't compete head-on with "Idol," as it starts after Simon, Ryan and the gang sign off at 10 p.m. "We're hoping that people go from one 'Idol' to another," Mr. Klarman said.

- Jon Lafayette