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A Helpful User's Guide to Fall: Don't Scan Without It

Weekly Commentary From the Media Guy

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You missed the first part of Media Guy’s fall media roundup, and you’ve already recycled last week’s Advertising Age? You can find it here. Meanwhile, without further ado, Part 2:

TIMES PREMIUM ROAST
The much-discussed Times Select system puts New York Times Op-Ed stars -- Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, Tom Friedman, etc. -- behind a paid firewall. You’ve now gotta pay $49.95 a year (if you don’t subscribe to the paper edition of the Times) to read them online.

Prospects: MoDo asks Nick Denton if there are any openings at Gawker. Meanwhile, the Times starts a program offering to pay online readers $49.95 a year to skim “Metropolitan Diary” items about the adorable stuff that Manhattan tots say and do on city buses to amuse the elderly and infirm. (Anticipated revenue stream: Google AdSense ads for Depends and Ensure.)

YOU JUST DON’T FIT IN
Iwantmedia.com editor/founder Patrick Phillips e-mails me that The Apprentice: Martha Stewart is overstocked with media types, including Carrie, a creative director at a PR and event planning firm; David, founder of an Internet advertising company; Dawn, head of a marketing/PR firm; Dawna, publisher of Her Sports magazine; Jeff, creative director of his own design company; Jim, founder of an advertising/marketing company; Sarah, an event planner; and Shawn, a local newscaster. Phillips’ reaction: “Finally, we have a prime-time TV show about the media industry.” My reaction: I wonder if there’s a new Family Guy on the DVR. Also, no black apprentices? Oh, other than Oprah, there are really no black people in media (unless you count Hurricane Katrina victims), right? Sheesh.

Prospects: Heads roll at Martha Stewart Omnimedia and Mark Burnett Productions when Martha realizes that no one told her to cast a blogger, a podcaster ... or a black person.

PAPER CHASE
To those who question the need for the Saturday Wall Street Journal, all I can say is: Thank God obsessive business types now have an additional, legit means to avoid quality time with their families on weekends.

Prospects: This is just the beginning. Watch for Wall Street Journal Sunday, Wall Street Journal Bedroom and Wall Street Journal Whatever You Say, Honey.

IPOD IN UTERO
The new iPod nano makes those of us with older iPods feel like we’re lugging around steamer trunks. Thanks a lot, Apple!

Prospects: Best-selling iPod ever, of course. That is, until the release of iPod in utero, due in 2006, sure to create a whole ’nother hipster caste system. (Overheard on playgrounds circa 2012: “You were born without iPod? Loser!”)

ASME BITCHSLAP CONT’D
This fall, I’m watching for repercussions from the American Society of Magazine Editors’ requirement, brought to light by the all-Target-ad-all-the-time Aug. 22 issue of The New Yorker, that those that blur the ad/edit wall must include a note to readers explaining the relationship between editorial and advertising.

Prospects: The newly humbled, contrite magazine industry buckles to ASME’s intense pressure, beginning with Jason Binn, who adds a note to his newly launched Boston Common that reads, “Editorial massages for advertisers available. Inquire within.” Also, Conde Nast’s Lucky and Cargo insert notes saying, “We don’t really expect you to buy any of this junk.”

AVENUE Q
Never mind the Motorola Rokr -- that first draft of an iPod phone with its miserly 100-song capacity. The phone I’m really excited about is the Motorola Q, which I previewed recently, and which debuts in 2006. (This I’m not making up.) It’s an amazingly slim Treo-like cellie.

Prospects: Even Crackberryheads are going to want it.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN PROGRAM?
I’ve mostly been underwhelmed by the new fall TV shows, particularly the heavily hyped My Name is Earl, which so far sort of seems like Three Wishes for poor people -- which confuses me, because I thought Three Wishes was supposed to be Three Wishes for poor people. Basically what I’m really into: the new season of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and the U.S. debut of Extras, from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, genius creators of The Office.

How about you? What do you love and hate this fall? E-mail me and you may win the Family Guy straight-to-DVD Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story.

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The Media Guy's column appears weekly on AdAge.com and in the print edition of Advertising Age. E-mail him at dumenco@gmail.com

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