Shoe marketer Puma has little problem getting about as much product placement as it wants-gratis. The reason: Puma's largest shareholder is New Regency Enterprises, which is involved in the production of Fox hits "Malcolm in the Middle" and "The Bernie Mac Show," and movies such as the upcoming "Daredevil" starring Ben Affleck. The popular brothers in "Malcolm" frequently don Puma shoes and apparel, while starlets Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd have worn the sneaks in recent Regency movies. The shoes will also make appearances in Fox's new show this fall, "John Doe." Regency's production arms and Puma's Los Angeles office have monthly meetings to discuss ways of working together. (Regency is owned by well-known Hollywood impresario Arnon Milchan, and News Corp. has a minority stake, and thus an interest in Puma.) Puma's Lisa Beachy says Regency is careful not to abuse the synergy at its disposal. "Nobody wants to see excessive branding," she says.
The days of the blow-dried, often-generic sportscaster are increasingly going, going... In their place come sometimes-rumpled talking heads like Tony Kornheiser. Kornheiser and the better-dressed Mike Wilbon have a breakout hit in ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption." Now, the net is hoping for a successful knock-off with "Around the Horn," where writers will weigh in from newsrooms across the country.