Summer leaves list of media, marketing quirks to ponder

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Summer is a goin' out, loud sing cuckoo!

Well, don't mind if I do.

In the East, where weather cheated us out of June and half of August, we had time to dwell on the fractured fairy tale that is media and marketing today. Here's an orderly look at the disorder on the "Notes" page of my mental Palm Pilot.

The "There-Is-Only-One-Story" Dept.-Someone (screenwriting guru Robert McKee?) once said there are only two stories in the world: Man goes on a trip and stranger comes into town. Clearly, the success of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" can be attributed to the fact that it blends these two narrative devices. It's "The Odyssey" with a makeover. When you consider how long Homer has lasted, it may turn out that NBC has found its replacement for "Friends."

Speaking of Reruns-Fair is fair. The estate of Major Bowes (he of the "Original Amateur Hour") should receive royalties from Fox for "American Idol."

Division of Metrics-"We do it by the pound now, we don't do it by the page," Publisher Tom Florio crowed about September Vogue, fourth largest on record. The familiar braggadocio led to arched eyebrows. But given the increasingly blurred line between advertising and editorial in magazines generally, poundage seems an utterly legitimate way to measure a magazine's viability, certainly more objective than Publishers Information Bureau or Audit Bureau of Circulations figures, no?

Memo from the Accounting Dept. -Who placed the story about PR whiz Dan Klores in The New York Times Magazine?

A Modest Proposal-Those who anticipated that Editor Robert Bartley's retirement would usher in an era of moderation on The Wall Street Journal's editorial page underestimated the department's bench strength. It's only a matter of time (probably when they figure the Iraq War is going really badly) before they start advocating drowning liberal babies.

Most Creative Strategist in Advertising-Peter Arnell. Maybe.

J'Accuse-Al Franken, Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly must be in collusion. There's no other explanation.

See Spot Run-Campaign `04, a year old, could become the presidential election cycle in which "free media" reasserts its primacy over "paid media." The Democratic field is relentlessly winnowing and donor money is concentrating, with nary a TV spot being fired, simply on the basis of national news coverage and Web marketing. (That and the fact that voters can smell an unqualified glamour-boy Southern trial lawyer a mile off.)

Speaking of Free Media-Wasn't that Mars campaign something? I don't know about you but I bought a telescope.

My Favorite Car Wreck-Jon Favreau's "Dinner For Five" on cable's Independent Film Channel is a voyeur's delight. It's a nightmare party hosted by a boor who dominates the conversation, talking about the virtually-straight-to-video films he's starred in, after which four men light cigars and smoke out the lone woman at the table. I love this show!

The There-Are-Second-Acts-in-Life-and-Third-Acts-Too Dept.-Isaac Mizrahi is a most enviable blend of creativity and personality. Just four years after he closed shop, he's now courting both the high and low crowds with a new couture line and a line for Target. Give a guy a little Oxygen, there's no telling what he might accomplish.

Memo to the Alumni Council: What school do the Dell interns go to?

Randall Rothenberg, an author and longtime journalist, is director of intellectual capital at consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton.

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