Suddenly, out of the blue, a brilliant, modest-looking, self-published work of genius arrived by mail: "Spray the Bear" by Walter Bregman, a former adman who worked at Leo Burnett, Norman Craig & Kummel, and as marketing director for E&J Gallo Winery and Playtex. Walter's book is a collection of hilarious anecdotes from his many years in the business (1960s through 1980s).
The book title refers to a true incident in which Burnett execs in Chicago ordered creatives in Hollywood to spray paint a brown bear white after a real polar bear couldn't be found for a dishwashing detergent Crystal Clear Joy spot. "Unfortunately the paint matted up and it looked like a huge brown rat," Hollywood telexed back to the Midwest mothership. "What is your next suggestion?" Chicago adamantly repeated: "Spray the bear!" But the telex operator typed the word "spay" instead of "spray." Walter writes: "The response from the West Coast was incredulous and immediate. `Suggest you reconsider your last recommendation...stop...we hardly see how this will solve our problem...stop...besides, we are using a male bear.' "
And talk about "product placement." Comedian Redd Foxx, who used Gallo's dirt-cheap Ripple wine as a running gag in his routines, "once joked that at his wedding ceremony they served a new drink called Champipple. Within days our distributors told us they were getting large orders for cases of Andre champagne and pear Ripple." Walter's brilliant book can be had online at www.1stbooks.com.
Big goings on about town
They say Virginia Woolf and her Bloomsbury buddies knew how to get jiggy with it. Well, they can't shake a pencil at the partying scribes at The New Yorker. The highlight of the magazine's annual festival (Sept. 27-29) featuring writers reading and blabbing in public was fiction editor Bill Buford's apartment party in Gramercy Park on Sept. 27. Reverend Al Sharpton was seen in deep discussion with Hollywood funnybone Steve Martin and rocker Chrissie Hynde. Listening in: Jessica Lange and filmmaker Neil LaBute. The belle of the bash was Jessica Green, an editor at Harper's Bazaar and Bill's fiancee. She wore a low cut tank-top dress, suited to the heat of the night. Bill's one-bedroom crib got pretty steamy. And how did they all fit in the hothouse? Bill put all his furniture in storage. Then there was a New Yorker anniversary party on Sunday night. Matt Dillon, David Byrne, director Jon Favreau and David Allen Grier took turns dancing with fact-checkers. Outed: CNN anchorwoman Daryn Kagan and on-air doc Sanjay Gupta seen holding hands at many fest events. Trey Parker of "South Park" fame reportedly guzzled a six-pack of beer at 9:45 on Saturday morning before he appeared on a panel discussing TV. Did anyone notice the Dolce & Gabbana ad in the mag (p. 15) the morning after? A pair of nearly naked multiracial lovers making out. Another instance of publishing's Maxim-ization?
Speaking of Maxim, while The New Yorker crowd remade its image partying into the wee hours, the Dennis Publishing people-makers of naughty Maxim and Stuff-got all respectable and took lunch with Tina Brown and her husband Harry Evans. Last week, the publisher's Cliff Notes for the news, The Week, threw a celebrity-rich steak meal at Michael Jordan's in Grand Central Terminal featuring former Sen. Warren Rudman, former Lehman Bothers CEO Pete Peterson and UBS America Chairman Donald B. Marron discussing corporate governance, with Ralph Nader and Bono beaming in their two cents by phone hookup. At one point, moderator Evans pronounced the U2 rocker's name like Sony Bono. "You're as out of it as I am," retorted a blase Peterson. "His name is Bah No." Other lunchmates: Myron Kandel of CNN; Kurt Vonnegut, Mario Cuomo; Geraldine Ferraro; Paula Zahn; and Peggy Noonan.
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