Waxing Romantic with the Dubya

Stefanie McMurrey, daughter of Texas Cable and Telecommunications Association director of communications Nancy McMurrey, became an accidental celebrity during her Jan. 23 visit to New York City. The younger McMurrey visited the new Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum
in the Big Apple on the day another Texan, George W. Bush, was immortalized there. For the uninitiated, the New York Tussaud's places its figures in settings that allow paid guests to interact with the faux celebrities in a party area, complete with paparazzi. The younger McMurrey walked past the wax Cable News Network crew, sidled up to "George" and cooed, "Pucker up, Dubya," then bussed Bush. Only the reporters weren't wax. CNN interviewed McMurrey and photographers coaxed her into repeating the kiss. At last week's Texas Show, the TCTA's McMurrey reported that she's been receiving calls from cable friends all over the country, as well as newspaper clippings of the wire photo. But she was chagrined to learn that one of the pictures ran in a Mexican paper above a caption that read, "Sex in this White House, too?"

---Meanwhile in Chicago, funnyman Mel Brooks wowed Court TV media buyers from Starcom Mediavest Group during a recent backstage meeting after the opening performance of his Broadway-bound play, The Producers
. Brooks, a personal friend of Court TV boss Schleiff, told his guests, "I can't wait to bring the show to New York, where I can really follow my true passion-to be a Court TV reporter. I spend all my down time watching those trials."

---Keynoting the Jupiter Media Forum last Friday, CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves said that industry research indicates that corporate America stands to lose nearly $300 million in productivity
due to people clicking onto the Survivor: The Australian Outback
Web site while at the office. "I hope most of those are at ABC and NBC," he quipped.

Perhaps sparked by news that Animal Planet's primetime hit Crocodile Hunter
has now booked 20 licensees for toys and other merchandise, rumors circulated during the week-long American International Toy Fair in New York late last month that the network is planning a Crocodile Hunter cartoon series spinoff.

"The idea has been kicking around a while," an Animal Planet spokesman acknowledged, "but there are no concrete plans in place" to put such a show into production. Current licensees-from N2Toys LLC, for action figures, to Hasbro Inc.'s Milton Bradley and Tiger Electronics divisions, for various games-are no doubt thrilled that Discovery Pictures will release a live-action Crocodile Hunter
for movie theaters this summer. Of course, Croc
will be trying to take a bite out of a box office likely to be dominated by Jurassic Park III, The Mummy Returns
and Planet of the Apes.

---The World Wrestling Federation has conquered basic cable, pioneered pay-per-view and even made its mark on broadcast television. So it comes as no surprise that the irreverent company has just put the music charts in a headlock as well.
"The WWF: The Music Vol. 5" bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard
music charts last week-bypassing the Beatles' "1" by selling more than 175,000 copies. The compilation CD, earning Billboard's "Hot Shot" debut title, features the entrance music for such WWF superstars as Triple H, Kane, Kurt Angle, Chyna and Lita, plus a special tune from The Rock. With such an impressive array of music, The Wire figures it's only a matter of time before the CD seizes the No. 1 slot. Just don't bet the XFL will scale similar heights any time soon.

---With Bill Clinton taking in $100,000 for every speech-the latest at "The Front Row" confab sponsored by Variety
(sister pub to Multichannel News) and Credit Suisse First Boston in New York last week-at least one retailer seems to be banking on the former president spending some of those big bucks in its stores. The Modell's Sporting Goods chain ran an ad in the New York Daily News
last month, heralding the opening of Clinton's office in Harlem,
rather than in the originally planned Carnegie Hall area. "Welcome to the Neighborhood, Mr. President," said the headline over a photo of shopper Clinton carrying two packages-one with the Modell's logo, the other with the logo of the Discovery Channel Store. An agate-type caption explains that Clinton is shown "shopping at our Washington, D.C., store." The ad concludes: "We were in your neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and we're proud to be your neighbor on 125th Street!"

--- Getting back to Toy Fair, the retail buyers' event showcased a goodly number of nostalgia-tinged properties whose longevity has been bolstered by cable exposure. Corgi Classics Inc., for one, was there plugging a new line of die-cast collectible cars inspired by snazzy vehicles from the James Bond film franchise
(which has long been a TBS Superstation staple, but now is headed back to ABC), as well as the spiffy DeLorean from Back to the Future
(a frequent fixture on USA Network) and the red Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard
(long on TNN: The National Network).

---And TV, cable and movie companies aren't the only ones pursuing toymakers for licensed spinoff merchandise. TV and cable advertisers also were visible at the Toy Fair, and they'll have an even stronger presence at the Licensing International show in New York come June. Among the advertisers most aggressive about getting their brands, logos and ad icons onto toy-related products: those in the automotive field (notably DaimlerChrysler Corp.'s Jeep, General Motors Corp., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Pennzoil-Quaker State Oil Co.) and the food category (Kellogg USA for Tony the Tiger and other cereal icons, Quaker Oats Co.'s Cap'n Crunch character, General Mills Inc.'s Betty Crocker and Pillsbury Co.'s Pillsbury Doughboy).

---Toyota's latest TV campaign spot for its dealers is set in heaven, where the automaker's previous two pitchmen are chatting. The most recent one, "TV Guy" (the announcer inside a TV set), is told by his predecessor, "Hey, you'll like it here. We have cable."
Wait till DirecTV Inc.'s Eddy Hartenstein hears about that.