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Flashes

BIO FEEDBACK Is it time for the biography-show backlash? In response to VH1’s Behind the Music, A&E’s Biography, and countless clones, a parody series called Tinsel Tales is being developed for Fox. The first episode of this mid-season contender – created by Seinfeld scribe Bruce Eric Kaplan – tracks the up-and-down life of a Sonny-and-Cher-esque couple (played by NewsRadio’s Vicki Lewis and Veronica’s Closet’s Wallace Langham) and features ”interviews” with real-life B-level celebs like Scott Baio and Ernest Borgnine. The couple, we learn, got their break playing at brisses and ended up as hermits in a Hawaiian hut. ”These rags-to-riches-to-rags stories are always satisfying,” says Kaplan, who conceived of Tales as an homage to his favorite genre. ”I was watching [Lifetime’s] Intimate Portrait of Fran Drescher, and I couldn’t turn it off. These shows suck you in.” – Jessica Shaw

FREEWHEELING Turns out Pamela Anderson Lee and her V.I.P. costars are Ford girls – and we’re not talking about the modeling agency. In an unusual deal, the Ford Motor Co. is supplying free cars to all the heroes of the syndicated shoot-‘em-up series. ”I wanted it to be like Charlie’s Angels, where each of the characters drove a different Ford,” says V.I.P. exec producer J.F. Lawton, who came up with the car conceit. Lawton put V.I.P.’s Nikki (Natalie Raitano) in a Mustang convertible, Quick (Shaun Baker) in a Mazda Miata, and Lee’s character in an appropriately curvy Jaguar (Ford owns Jaguar and part of Mazda). In return, Ford gets to keep its hand on the steering wheel. ”We review scripts very closely,” says Richard Taylor, an exec with Ford’s product-placement firm, Showcase Placements, Inc. ”We don’t allow our vehicles to be shown breaking down or used when someone has been drinking alcohol.” And Lawton makes sure of one other thing: Villains don’t drive Fords. ”We mostly put the bad guys in Chevys.” – Zack Stentz

AUTOMATED SELLERS Hollywood and money have always gone hand in hand. Perhaps that’s why the idea of marrying movie trailers and automated teller machines seems so natural. Around 1,000 ATMs in Chicago, New York, L.A., and San Diego now dispense 15-second full-color movie and TV promos along with cash. ”The dead time is not being utilized,” says Bill Duncan, a marketing exec for Electronic Data Systems, who came up with the concept. So far, films such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the A&E miniseries Tom Jones have been plugged in the format, which pulls in every advertiser’s dream customers. ”You’re not flipping channels,” says Marc Weinstock of Fox Searchlight, which will run ATM ads for the upcoming film Boys Don’t Cry. ”You’re completely captive.”