The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

A rumor that's odd enough to be true: Celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Denzel Washington are supposedly dropping paid-for product mentions amid their "official" plugs for their movie/TV projects while on late-night talk shows:

It's been a while since there's been any real drama to the late night TV talk show wars. About the most interesting developments have been Jay Leno's hosting of has-been California gubernatorial candidates and David Letterman's disclosure that he's going to be a father. But now a new type of urban legend is suddenly popping up and it concerns celebrity appearances - and product plugs - taking place during the late shift. The first of these has zany and buxom actress Drew Barrymore appearing on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and plugging - of all things - Kraft Singles. Unconfirmed reports have the Charlie's angel pocketing a hefty under-the-table fee. So it isn't surprising that a similar story has been circulating concerning the appearance of hunky actor Denzel Washington's appearance on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman." According to this story, Washington was describing working conditions while filming a new movie down in Mexico. Asked if he drank the water, Washington said he noticed the locals were drinking Coca-Cola and that he preferred Diet Coke. Again, the rumor has Washington reaping a sizeable paycheck for the mention. If these were true, one would have to wonder how and why the networks would allow it. If they were simply ambush marketing tactics it would seem to deprive them of potential advertising revenues. Then again, if the networks were to profit directly from these plugs, it would likely spark the kind of government scrutiny that would make the 1950s game show scandals look tame by comparison.

Pretty sneaky. And I used to look up to celebrities, thinking they were the most perfect people on earth...