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Verizon FiOS: More Like Cable Than You Think

Verizon may want to put a disclaimer on the latest ad for its FiOS TV service that highlights its difference from cable. That's because FiOS TV is a lot closer to cable than some prospective customers might realize.

In the new spots, a father sets up a brand-new flat-panel HD display as his family looks on in eager anticipation.

"Okay, I'm just going to hook up the cable," he says. "This is going to look amazing." But when he tries to plug in the coaxial cable, the set repeatedly spits it out.

"Your new HDTV doesn't want cable," the announcer intones. "Give it Verizon FiOS TV, for the best picture quality, period. Because your new HDTV is only as good as the network it's on."

That is, a network using cable-operator-installed coaxial lines already running through a customer's walls. While Verizon runs fiber-optic wire directly to a home gateway to install FiOS, it actually uses existing coax whenever possible to create a home network based on the MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) standard.

And since the network requires only one set-top box, a FiOS customer could theoretically hook up a second cable-ready HDTV set just as the ad depicts.

But Verizon spokeswoman Sharon Cohen-Hagar doesn't believe the ad is misleading.

"What we're talking about is not the coax itself, but saying it's the network that brings you the signal that counts," she says. "So symbolically, it's spitting out the coax to show that the particular TV in the commercial is connected to cable, not a Verizon customer premises network."

Alas, Cohen-Hagar says she's not privy to Verizon's marketing plans, so no word on when we can expect a similar spot aimed at satellite competitors—perhaps with an angry HD set blowing a satellite dish off a roof.

Mad Props

Apparently, finding any comic standing continues to be a challenge for reality competition Last Comic Standing.

After an amateur-only policy made for a less-than-side-splitting first season, NBC allowed comics who'd previously seen airtime to compete. Now, in addition to its open call for auditions, scheduled around the country through March, the network is actively casting about for specific types of comics—very specific.

An ad posted to Craigslist—entitled "Casting Funny/ Wacky people for NBC!!! Props?"—says outright, "We are casting Last Comic Standing and we need more visual comedy," and asks, "Do you have a costume? Do you juggle? Do you have props or a special act? How are you going to make us laugh?"

As of this writing, no fewer than six ads have appeared on Craigslist "casting" for prop and visual comedians for the show.

NBC, for its part, denies it is trying to cast the show rather then let the comedians come to them. A spokesperson says the production company will be placing multiple ads on Craigslist seeking different types of comics, stand-ups, prop comics and more: "We're just casting a wide net. If you think you're funny, we'd like to see you."

Never Forget

Has it really been a year since a viral marketing campaign for Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force brought the city of Boston to a standstill?

You know, when bomb squads were dispatched after citizens mistook light-emitting diode (LED) displays of an Aqua Teen character (giving the finger, no less) for colorful explosive devices, costing a Cartoon exec his job—and Cartoon-parent Turner $2 million in fines?

Well, the Jan. 31 anniversary may have passed uneventfully for you. But some Aqua Teen fans and electronic artists have found an appropriately provocative way to commemorate the event.

Make, the DIY-tech magazine that was originally suspected of hatching last year's plot, posted a guide for making displays of the now-iconic bird-flipping "Mooninite," as well as Lite Brite renderings of President Bush, Osama Bin Laden and even Peter Berdovsky, who created the original Aqua Teen displays.

At least this time the pranksters who littered the displays around Boston included a disclaimer. Using a derivation of "lol" (Web-slang for "laughing out loud"), the pranksters left signs saying, "This is not a bomb. It's just for the lulz."

With Glen Dickson and Alex Weprin

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