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Published on .

Oh, Dave, desperation does indeed call for crass measures. "Late Night With David Letterman" will be commercial-free on Friday, Sept. 20. No comment from CBS, but we hear they want four title sponsors that will bring us the commercial-free show. Dave may even thank them on the show, after he's done telling us that everyone hates commercials. The stunt will garner lots of publicity for Letterman's program, but we've got a question for Dave: Where do you think CBS gets that $14 million it pays you annually? Hint: Not from Stupid Pet Trick memorabilia.

Chrysler's new ad theme, coming Sept. 20 in its first corporate ad campaign since 1992 from Bozell, is "Just great cars." No mention of trucks, which include minivans and Jeeps, though trucks account for 60% of Chrysler's business. Chrysler won't comment. But President Robert Lutz says the campaign will "solidify in the public's mind Chrysler's image as being different and solidify each of our brands, too."

J. Walter Thompson is tight-lipped about its new Merck win. JWT recently won a hush-hush assignment for Ivomec, which kills parasites in animals. The main market for Ivomec, one of the largest selling animal drugs in the world, is cattle. The account was previously at multiple agencies across the globe. A Merck spokeswoman declined comment, but sources say the company would be able to let the cat (or cattle in this case) out of the bag next week.

The editorial grapevine at the New York Daily News was tingling last week as rumors spread that Canadian press baron Conrad Black is out to buy the paper from Mort Zuckerman and negotiating to keep Co-Publisher Fred Drasner on board. Black loves tabloids but disdains most journalists who write for them. He first bid on the News back when it was struggling to emerge from the Robert Maxwell bankruptcy. Mr. Black's secretary said he was vacationing last week and could not be reached at the Toronto headquarters of Hollinger Inc. Drasner had this to say: "It's total absolute 100% nonsense. It is not for sale." And from Zuckerman's corner: "Preposterous. I haven't talked with Conrad Black in months."M

Compiled by Pat Sloan with news from Chuck Ross, Alice Z. Cuneo, Jean Halliday, Laura Petrecca and Keith J. Kelly.

Got an Adage? Tell Brad by phone, (213) 651-3710, ext. 111; fax, (213) 655-8157; or e-mail, brad@crain.com.

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