Adages: This bub's for you. The story of the first American idol.

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Admen come from odd places. Take for example, Steve Karmen, who penned some of the greatest jingles of all time, including: "I love New York," "This Bud's for you," and Adages favorite, "You can take Salem out of the country, but you can't take the country out of Salem." Steve's first job was playing singing sideman to Bobby Darin, the Bronx boy who popularized Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife," and was the last American teenage heartthrob before Elvis and the Beatles. Steve and Bobby met at Bronx Science High in the `50s and put together a duo. They performed for two years and got their first break in 1956 working Club Temptation in Detroit.

"For two weeks we were on stage with chorus girls and a stripper," Steve tells Adages. "My nice Jewish mom was very upset about the stripper."

The partnership collapsed during that gig, and Steve's new book, "Me and Bobby D," is an unblinking chronicle of a deep friendship that fell apart on the road. Bobby was offered a record deal and he left his buddy in the dust. "I drifted into doing background scores for porno films, and from there I wound up in the ad business," Steve says. On Madison Ave. Steve's fortunes rose, and 16 years after they split, Bobby called him from Las Vegas. "Bobby's career was heading downward," said Steve. "And he needed help."

"Me and Bobby D" is also about their reconciliation, which happened just two years before Bobby died in 1973, at the age of 37, of heart failure. Steve, who also published "Through the Jingle Jungle" in 1989, is now working on a musical version of the "Bobby D" book. The working title: "Club Temptation."

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow

The Conference Board was in a bind. Dan Rather was scheduled to appear at one of its Q&A luncheons at the Plaza Hotel last week, but the CBS anchorman was dodging bullets in Baghdad. "Restoring Corporate Integrity and Public Trust" was the topic of the event, which included a special panel on bias in the media.

Who was the logical replacement for straight-shooting Dan? Former President Bill Clinton, of course. "He's certainly an expert on integrity and trust," quipped a reporter at Adages' table.

Bill faced Marvin Kalb, former network news reporter and author of "One Scandalous Story," about the Monica Lewinsky episode.

"I'm out of office, I might as well tell you what I think," said Bill, pointing his famous crooked finger at an intimidated Marv. They discussed Enron, Worldcom and other corporate scandals, but Marv did not bring up Bill's own ethical lapses, namely, Monica, Paula and Gennifer. However, at one point, eloquent Bill let slip a word that must have been at the tip of his tongue. He described certain measures to curb corporate greed as "prophylactic," and an awkward hush descended on the room.

Another slap on the back

According to Ken Kaess, CEO of DDB Worldwide, Madison Ave. needs another advertising festival. He's trying to persuade members of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, which he chairs, to launch a new awards event that will bow at Rockefeller Center sometime next summer. After all, the industry only has Cannes, the Clios, One Show, Art Directors Club Awards, D&AD, AICP, New York Festivals, Mobius Awards, O'Toole Awards, Andy Awards, Addy's, Ad Age Best Awards, London International Advertising Festival, Golden Drum (Asia), FIAP (South America), and the Lisbon Erotic Ad Festival (Adages was invited to judge LEAF.) Did we forget one?

Contributing: Claire Atkinson

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