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Was it a coincidence that General Motors ad czar Phil Guarascio was having dinner at a Big Apple eatery last Wednesday night with Pontiac-GMC chief Roy Roberts, Ammirati Puris Lintas CEO Martin Puris, top creative Helayne Spivak and Chairman Duncan Pollack? Observers wonder if Puris could be trying to wrench Pontiac from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, already under the gun for lackluster Cadillac work. Marty, who has known Phil a long time, has made no secret he wants a big car account. He already has a GM project for OnStar, a navigational system. At least the party has their stories straight: All say Phil and Roy were dining when Marty & Co. saw them and pulled up chairs. A coincidence. Of course.

Maybe American Cybercast Network is getting too real. After creating the online soap "The Spot," which had reporters combing the streets looking for the house of the fictitious cast members, it last month launched EON-4, a sci-fi serial about three fictitious astronauts in a distant galaxy. After the company posted messages on sci-fi newsgroups telling people about the site, some believers accused American Cybercast and sponsor Apple Computer of a hoax. Others have called NASA to see if EON-4 dispatches are real. American Cybercast publicity chief Kay Dangaard assures EON-4 is fiction .*.*. to a point. "I have heard," she says, "that the government has information on another intelligence and they aren't breaking this to the rest of the world."

Rick Sirvaitis, ad chief at the Family Channel, was walking with his 8-year-old son in Manhattan recently when Rick spied a man lifting a woman's purse. He grabbed the guy and saved the day. A few years back, Doug Greenlaw, then ad head at MTV, was commended by the mayor's office for apprehending a mugger. We smell a TV show here. "By day, they sell prime time. By night, they wipe out crime time ..."

Windy City Sports' June cover shows Partridge-turned-radio-guy Danny Bonaduce naked on a retro Schwinn bike with the headline, "Bad as HE wanna Be." A choice parody of Dennis Rodman (see related item on Page 58)...."Hey First Interstate customers, the water's fine, come on in," says a Hajjar/Kaufman ad for Santa Monica Bank, beckoning those unhappy with Wells Fargo's takeover of First Interstate. Nice, except an environmental group just graded Santa Monica beach "F" because the water is so polluted.

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Kate Fitzgerald, Jean Halliday, Laura Petrecca, Scott Donaton, Debra Aho Williamson and Chuck Ross.

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