Sitting in judgement...

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It might have been more aptly called "American Marketer," as three of the four judges for "American Inventor" come from marketing backgrounds. One is Doug Hall. The others: Mary Lou Quinlan and Ed Evangelista.

Ms. Quinlan is the founder-CEO of marketing consulting firm Just Ask a Woman. In reality, as opposed to reality TV, she doesn't cry all the time. Relatively few contestants have made her tear up, she said.

She's a veteran of DDB Worldwide and now-defunct N.W. Ayer, where she was CEO. Her most memorable on-air moment so far: using her coat to cover up a woman who modeled, stripper style, a piece of lingerie that looked like a Christmas bow.

"I got some e-mails from nuns at a convent saying, 'You go girl,"' Ms. Quinlan said.

Producer Simon Cowell sought out Ms. Quinlan after open tryouts failed to produce the female judge he was seeking. The producers liked her expressive responses to sample whacky inventions (though she never actually cried during the tryout).

Mr. Evangelista is the man with perhaps the best name in advertising and plays the straight-talking New Yorker of the group. The executive creative director for WPP Group's JWT, New York, is, according to ABC's Web site, "the first advertising creative [person, not product] to be embedded in entertainment content."

Life at Madison & Vine isn't always easy.

"People were telling me, 'You won't be able to take the train anymore,"' he said. But the Long Island resident still does. He recently noticed a fellow traveler staring and then smirking at him. "I raised my newspaper up over my face."

Mr. Evangelista never pined for reality stardom. But when producers interviewed candidates in the lobby of JWT's building last November, a public relations executive coaxed him into trying out.

Besides putting Mr. Evangelista's face in front of millions of public-transit users each week, the gig pays other promotional dividends: JWT will handle ads for the show's four top finalists.

Mr. Evangelista, who has created ads for the Diamond Trading Co., Unilever and Smirnoff, said judging the show isn't too far removed from his marketing job-each require making snap decisions on an endless stream of ideas.

"Once he makes up his mind, you're not going to change it," said Alan Jope, president-global spreads, cooking products and dressings at client Unilever.

The fourth judge is Peter Jones, the 39-year-old founder of the U.K.'s $500 million Phones International Group and co-creator of "American Inventor." He's also host of BBC business reality show "Dragon's Den," and established Peter Jones TV last year to develop original programming with a business twist.

On "American Inventor," he comes across as one of the tougher judges, alongside Mr. Hall, though he's also capable of being swayed-he once altered his vote after a contestant complimented him on his tie.
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