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Sprint watchers say the Dime Lady is going the way of Murphy Brown. Though Sprint and JWT execs are equivocal, sources say the phone company is scouting for another celebrity to replace Candice Bergen. The Dime Lady's role has dimished over time to periodic cameo roles. Various JWT offices are jumping in with ideas and strategies. "The heat keeps getting turned up," says one source.

Frank talk from Walter & Wallace

How is it that the Chairman of the Board displaced the King as singer of the century? Elvis was going to be on Time's list of the century's top artists and entertainers, out last week. Then Mike Wallace, preparing a show based on the list, found out and placed a heated call to Time Editor in Chief Walter Isaacson lobbying for Sinatra. Wallace won, and Sinatra displaced Presley. Four weeks later, and before the issue appeared, Sinatra died. "I was very glad to be able to call Walter," Wallace says, "and say now aren't you glad I made you put him on the list? Wouldn't you have looked foolish if you hadn't? I saved your ass." Walter's retort: "Yes, death was a good career move for him."

First bill of the new millennium

Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Discover & Co. (slick name, huh?) inked a deal with Countdown Entertainment of NY to be exclusive credit card of the Times Square '99 New Year's Eve bash. Discover card will own the giant video screen atop One Times Square, directly beneath the flagpole on which the ball drops.

Economy full of hot Air

Though you probably won't find the "Jordan Effect" in any econ textbook, Fortune figures it's pumping some $10 billion into the economy. That's the value Fortune sticks on the sneakers and other wares associated with Bull man Michael Jordan. Branded products alone -- cologne, underwear, videos, books about Jordan, as well as revenue from the movie "Space Jam" -- are said to have generated $701 million. So what would Michael's retirement mean for the Bulls? The Great Depression?

Conde blast . . . Compaq

Fortune writer Joe Nocera is scoping a big story on Conde Nast. Expect a less-than-flattering profile of Steve Florio. . . . Ammirati last year proposed "Change is good" as Compaq's new slogan. It didn't fly. Does Compaq's newly departed agency still think change is good? . . . When Compaq ad boss Andrew Salzman a few weeks ago canceled out of an upcoming IDG marketing conference, IDG picked Steve Norcia to speak in his place. At the time, he was head of the soon-to-be-dead Digital account at DDB Needham. Now he's head of the new global Compaq account at DDB. And IDG looks golden for picking the perfect substitute. . . . The Calif. Dept. of Health Services, featuring a lung cancer patient in a spot debuting this week via Asher & Partners, LA, went with its fourth choice for talent. The first three died.

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from James B. Arndorfer, Barbara Brody, Alice Z. Cuneo, Ann Marie Kerwin and Beth Snyder.

Got an Adage? Tell Brad by phone, (213) 651-3710, ext. 111; fax, (213) 655-8157; or e-mail, [email protected]

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