ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Talk about type-casting. Have you seen the curious new commercial for a certain riding lawn mower, in which Kelsey Grammer of "Cheers" is the surprising pitchman? It proves once again that what's important in TV advertising is merely image, not substance.
In the ad, Grammer basically plays his "Cheers" part of Dr. Frasier Crane, the fuddy-duddy psychiatrist. He tells people that they need "professional help" with their lawns, and praises the virtues of this particular mower.
Even if Frasier were a real person and not a role, why should a psychiatrist know anything about lawns?
Grammer's an actor, of course. But then, why would an actor know crab grass from zoysia?
Worse, in real life Grammer's a flaky kind of actor who has done jail time for tax problems. So why on Earth should he be a spokesman for the great middle American pastime of lawn care?
Easy: He's a recognizable figure from a TV show, which apparently confers instant credibility - and marketing ability.
The ad reminds Media Monitor of those spots a few years ago in which many cast members of "M*A*S*H" were illogically reunited in an office setting to hawk business machines.
* In the Good Quotes department, we like what actor Warren Beatty apparently says about Madonna in her new "Truth or Dare" feature movie, a compilation of candid clips from the rocker's Blond Ambition Tour:
"What point is there existing if it's off camera?" Beatty asks, in response to some discussion whether the star is upset about the probing camera. That pretty much sums up the career of this fascinating female, willing in the film to be seen in frowsy disarray.
We think the clip is in the movie, anyway. It was included in MTV's "Dinner With Madonna" special seen several times over the weekend, in which the cable rock network's Kurt Loder had a fairly interesting talk with the femme famous. In typical MTV fashion, it was not always clear what clip was from where.