LANCE BASS SPACE TRIP POSTPONED TILL 2003

Sponsors Needed More Time; TV Show Planned

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BOSTON (AdAge.com) -- A unique TV product-placement deal linking pop star Lance Bass and his Soyuz space trip with corporate sponsors and a TV limited series that had been planned for October now looks to be on for April, according to a number of executives close to the deal.

The October TV show was expected to run on Viacom's MTV, though it's uncertain now whether MTV or a national broadcast network will carry the series, executives said.

In training
Mr. Bass, a singer with the hit pop act 'Nsync, was scheduled to blast off into space Oct. 28 aboard the Russian Soyuz space shuttle. But he missed training while waiting for corporate sponsorship money to arrive. Mr. Bass is back in training at Russia's Star City for an April 2003 launch.

Executives said all

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parties -- especially the undisclosed sponsors -- needed more time to coordinate specifics than the October launch would have allowed. The TV limited series, Celebrity Mission: Lance Bass, would have culminated with a live broadcast of the October Soyuz launch.

$20 million seat
Sponsors would contribute money for the Soyuz seat as well as the media buy. In return, they would receive category exclusivity through hybrid sponsorships that could include product and logo placement, endorsements and possibly commercials in space. It's uncertain how much the companies would contribute, though Mr. Bass' fare is believed to cost about $20 million.

Mr. Bass' TV show and 10-day mission are different from an initiative that would have made PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola Co. the lead sponsor of a TV reality program in which contestants would vie for a seat on the Soyuz. At least two networks are in discussions, with Walt Disney Co.'s ABC believed to be a strong contender. Retail promotion would start next sumer, with liftoff in 2004.

A Pepsi-Cola spokesman said the soft drink company is not sponsoring Mr. Bass' trip.

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