Art Imitates Life at HBO

Or Is It the Other Way Around?

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Is it just us, or has "The Sopranos" been hitting a little too close to home lately?

In a recent episode, Tony's right-hand man, Christopher, falls off the wagon spectacularly, taking AA-tough J.T. down with a single bullet. Hours after the episode aired, another Christopher -- HBO Chairman-CEO Chris Albrecht -- also had to admit his powerlessness over alcohol after being arrested for assault in Las Vegas.
No. 1: One show props with a football theme.
No. 1: One show props with a football theme.

Mr. Albrecht has resigned and the what-happens-in-HBO-stays-in-HBO family has washed its hands of his problems. Let the jockeying for the next HBO Don begin, if it hasn't already.

To be fair, "Sopranos" writers are good because they do tap into the grimy truth about the needling pressures of life. Of course, it's all just a coincidence, but personally we get enough true-to-life drama on "Law & Order."


A 30-second ad show? Oh, wait a minute ...


A night spent last week at The One Show confirms that Yahoo officially owns all award-show cocktail hours. Any creative who has not had his photo taken in the purple Big Idea Chair and not drunk a cocktail with a flashing purple ice cube is clearly missing out.

We got excited when we heard the announcement that the "30-second One Show will start in one minute," thinking we were going to a flash-format, leaving loads more time for the touch football of the after-party, but we were mistaken. It was the 32nd One Show.

The One Show decided to inject even more testosterone into the advertising creative world by making this year the literal "Super Bowl of Advertising." Kick-off, quite literally, started with the Brooklyn Steppers, a be-spangled, high energy band. Steely-eyed and spikey-haired Kenny Mayne of ESPN gave color-commentary throughout, proving there is actual talent to reading a teleprompter, making chit-chat with fans and getting One Club board members to ad-lib. Despite shout-outs to the people who didn't win anything (huzzah, direct marketing!), Mr. Mayne had a tough job trying to sell jokes to a crowd that creates them for a living.

"So, are people buying more hamburgers?" Mr. Mayne asked Rob Reilly, creative director on the Burger King business for Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

"I think we've actually sold more burgers for McDonald's," said Mr. Reilly.

"So really, you just fill up the spaces in-between shows and we don't really know what any of this means?" said Mr. Mayne. "We'll never know if you actually sell anything?"

Man, that was some sharp sarcasm. Thank God we had cheerleaders and pyrotechnics to distract us from the bitterness.

Appropriate to the Super Bowl theme, TBWA/Chiat/Day racked up 18 awards for work on Combos and Skittles and may as well have counted a few assists for all the pencils 180 Amsterdam Creative Director Alex Fackrell collected for the 180/ TBWA work for Adidas around the World Cup last year. Mayne jokingly suggested TBWA New York Creative Director Scott Vitrone wielded influence as a judge -- heck, Masterfoods even won Client of the Year for letting wacky non sequitur ads like "Man Mom" exist.

You'll be happy to know that TBWA's fighting mascot for the "game" was a flame-throwing manatee. Endangered and dangerous.


Hard Rock Hotel CMO walks the talk

We use the term "rock-star CMO" lovingly and euphemistically, but Sean Dee, CMO of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos, may just have the street cred to pull off the title in everyday life. He's just signed the Gerber Group of Whiskey Bars fame -- almost every W has one -- to run the bars at two new properties, one in San Diego and one in Biloxi (yeah, that would be Mississippi), opening on the "lucky" day of 7/7/07. He's also feeling pretty lucky about the recent sale of the company for just a tad under $1 billion to the Seminole tribe. Sean said: "I'm enjoying the rock-star lifestyle." Maybe the rock-star moniker was just too hot for some (ahem, Julie Roehm), but it suits Sean just fine.

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Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo

Written by Brooke Capps. You can reach Ken Wheaton, who got lost somewhere in the Whiskey Bar, next week at kwheaton@adage.com.
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