CNBC readies Donny Deutsch for prime time

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Outspoken adman Donny Deutsch may be joining Jesse Ventura on the cable airwaves as the latest media pundit of the moment.

The CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos' Deutsch, will shoot "Deutsch on Demand," a one-hour pilot at CNBC studios on Saturday, Feb. 22. According to a CNBC email obtained by Advertising Age, the show "will be hosted by Donny Deutsch and will focus on pop culture, the media [and] advertising."

Mr. Deutsch would not confirm the show but said "I do a lot of work with CNBC and we're always looking for a lot of opportunities." Meanwhile, a spokeswoman at CNBC said a pilot is being produced, but "there are no plans to air the show yet. We do not have an air date."

Mr. Deutsch is already a frequent guest and substitute host on "Kudlow & Cramer," a business show which had 241,000 total viewers in January, according to Nielsen Media Research, and a .09 rating in the 25-to-54-year-old news-viewing demographic. The average CNBC lineup last year for weekday prime-time had 278,000 viewers. The hope is that "Deutsch on Demand" will capture those numbers and more.

The pilot, which the network is calling a special, will be produced by Mark Lukasiewicz, executive producer-special projects, NBC News.

"Deutsch on Demand" reflects the influence of advertising on popular culture. According to executives at the network and executives at advertising agencies who had knowledge of the show, "Deutsch on Demand" may lead to a regular slot for the mediagenic adman on CNBC, perhaps a weekly half-hour prime-time segment of marketing commentary.

Mr. Deutsch is one of a few larger-than-life figures in the ad industry and one willing to rock the boat, as proved by a speech to the Association of National Advertisers berating clients for not being tougher on agencies.

Mr. Deutsch has appeared increasingly restless since selling his agency to Interpublic Group of Cos. in 2000 for $265 million, and observers believe he is in search of a new challenge in addition to his day job.

Ideas for the Feb. 23 shoot include a segment on the National Basketball Association and the endorsement value of star players, with Mr. Deutsch judging the latest advertising campaigns. Mr. Deutsch is also expected to screen ads and invite guests from the worlds of advertising, entertainment and sports for commentary.

minor problem

To gather information for the show, producers at CNBC canvassed Madison Ave. shops last week for ad reels. An executive at one shop approached by the producers said the company was reluctant to send in its work. "The idea of being judged by Donny Deutsch does not really appeal to anyone here," said the executive.

This may be a difficult problem for the show to overcome. When an agency publicly critiques another shop's work, it is often seen as a prelude to a pitch for the client's business, and ad agencies bruise easily when their work is criticized.

contributing: claire atkinson and lisa sanders

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