MY 2003 HOLIDAY GIFT LIST

A Tongue-in-Cheek Look at Who Deserves What

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What with the contin­uing disintegration of mass markets and mass media, Wall Street scan­dals, the erosion of vener­able brands, broadband's great leap forward-well, the holidays were very active in our household. Here's what we gave our favored few for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa:

To former Vermont governor and Demo­cratic Presidential candidate Howard Dean: the DVD of the first season of "The West Wing," a reminder his campaign's suc­cess has less to do with his politics and personality than with voter confusion over his similarity to former New Hampshire Gov. Jed Bartlet.

To Donny Deutsch, Mort Zuckerman and the other unsuccessful bidders for New York Mag­a­zine: Bruce Feirstein's 1982 classic "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche," an advisory (for the next time) that real men don't talk about deals. Like Bruce Wasserstein, they do them.

To New York Times media reporter David Carr: an old-fashioned Ma Bell Princess phone, with which to call more sources, the better not to provide so much advance publicity to people who aren't going to do a deal. (And a special gift to New York Observer "Off the Record" columnist Sridhar Pappu: a yardstick, the better to measure the wealth of ad executives he labels "billionaires.")

To TiVo President Marty Yudkovitz (one of the media business's best deal-makers): a Popeil gadget of his choice, for helping to bring to market one of the most remarkable contraptions of this or any year (the TiVo digital video recorder/DVD recorder), allowing me to make good on my credo, "Let no Lon Chaney Jr. movie go unrecorded."

To Rosie O'Donnell: a rocking chair, to while away her hours as far away from the media and entertainment industries as possible.

To Ricky Gervais, writer/star of BBC's "The Office": a full set of Mad maga­zines, for creating a comic romp that ranks with "The Larry Sanders Show" and "Sein­feld" but with the added frisson that it looks frighteningly like my office (and yours, dear reader).

To Paris Hilton: our "Marketer of the Year Award," for devising sophisticated new ways to use peer-to-peer file-sharing services and the Web to generate advance publicity for her TV show, Fox's "The Simple Life."

To Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners and Wieden & Kennedy: the IFC network's "Independent Spirit Award," for remaining unrepentantly unconsolidated.

To Viacom communicator-in-chief Gil Schwartz: a hard-to-find videotape of the 1953 film "I Led Three Lives," the cult biopic of Herbert Philbrick Jr., stalwart citizen, FBI agent and Communist Party infiltrator, in honor of Mr. Schwartz's remarkable success as novelist, corporate flack and Fortune magazine infiltrator Stanley Bing.

To ex-New York Stock Exchange CEO Dick Grasso: a gift certificate to Burson-Marsteller.

To producer Barbara Walters and her col­leagues on "The View": a supply of Reese's Pieces, the most famous product place­ment of all time (not that the ladies aren't trying to help their own advertisers surpass it).

To Grey Global Group Chairman-CEO Ed Meyer: public acknowledgement that serving clients closely, and well, year in and year out, as he has done, remains the agency business' most enduring and successful business model.

To Advertising Age Editor Scott Donaton, Viewpoint Editor Rick Gordon, proprietor Rance Crain and the rest of the weekly's madcap crew: A tuna fish sandwich (one each) because, truly, there is no more satisfying meal on earth.

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