(Don't tell anyone, but) I was watching "Private Practice" on ABC the other evening and was struck by an American Express ad spotlighting Tina Fey, the star and creator of NBC's "30 Rock," doing stuff that would not be out of place on her show, like talking to people on a backstage set. So not only is it an ad for American Express, it's also an ad, in many ways, for "30 Rock." I mean, the ad could have been made from "30 Rock" outtakes; it's that similar to the average couch-potato eye.
Time was, networks didn't like ads with celebs from rival programs. In 1997, GM's Cadillac ran an ad featuring actor Dennis Franz as a cop handing out a ticket. Franz was on ABC's "NYPD Blue" at the time. CBS and NBC vetoed the spot. And yet, other ads have made it on everyone's airwaves, including a late-90s Sprint spot starting Candice Bergen and other actors from CBS's "Murphy Brown."
The question is whether ABC wants to turn down moolah from Amercian Express, or give NBC free promo time to boost "30 Rock." It looks like they'll opt for the American Express ad dollars.