NBC officials are doing their best to reassure critics that they will impose strict limitations, but the network has decided to become the first broadcast network to run ads for hard liquor.
The decision is in large part a reaction to the brutal ad market that has cost the networks hundreds of millions of dollars in lost ad revenue.
NBC said it has developed a set of rules governing liquor ads on the air, including requirements that no one under 30 may appear in such ads, and that no one -- regardless of age -- may be shown consuming alcohol. The network also said that no professional athletes may appear in the ads, and no liquor ads may run before 9 p.m. or after 11 p.m. -- except during "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."
The ads must also be accompanied by public-service campaigns -- paid for by the advertisers -- promoting "socially responsible" drinking.
The liquor industry spends $377 million per year on advertising, most of which goes into print advertising. Ad industry analysts expect the spirits industry would be anxious to capitalize on the opportunity to advertise on network TV.
Liquor ads have already become more or less commonplace on cable channels, including BET, Comedy Central, E! and the Sci Fi Channel. Local broadcasters have also been broadcasting TV ads for the hard stuff.
DE NIRO TOPS IN BRITISH POLL
In a poll conducted by British TV channel FilmFour, voters named Robert De Niro as the greatest film star of all time.
De Niro's "Godfather" co-star Al Pacino finished second, according to the British paper, the Daily Express.
The top-ranked actress on the poll's list of the 100 greatest film is Jodie Foster, who co-starred with De Niro in "Taxi Driver." She finished at No. 22.
Kevin Spacey ("The Usual Suspects," "American Beauty") finished third, ahead of Jack Nicholson ("As Good as It Gets," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") and Sean Connery, ("The Untouchables" and the James Bond movie series).
ARNOLD WORSE OFF THAN REPORTED?
Gossip columnist Mitchell Fink is reporting that Arnold Schwarzenegger was more seriously injured than his publicist let on, when he wiped out on a motorcycle in Los Angeles last Sunday.
The publicist announced that Arnold has sustained "several broken ribs," but was "in good spirits (and) otherwise fine."
Citing sources on both the East and West coasts, Fink reported that Schwarzenegger suffered a punctured lung. One source told Fink the big guy won't be leaving the hospital until the weekend, even though trade papers had reported that he was in his production company office Thursday doing telephone interviews to promote his upcoming movie, "Collateral Damage."
'SINBAD' HEADED BACK TO BIG SCREEN
John Singleton ("Boys N the Hood," "Shaft") is getting ready to take on a special effects-laden update on the legend of "Sinbad" -- which was made into the 1947 epic, "Sinbad the Sailor," starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and the 1958 movie, "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad," starring Kerwin Matthews.
The legendary Ray Harryhausen did the special effects for that one -- and turning out the famous duel scene between Sinbad and a skeleton. Harryhausen also worked on the 1974 feature, "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad," and the 1977 feature, "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger."
Singleton's project is expected to employ the same sort of big-action techniques as the recent "Mummy" pictures. Screenwriter Ted Sarafian told Daily Variety he and Singleton look at the project as "an eighth-century 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' on steroids."
CHEVY CHASE BACK TO SMALL SCREEN?
According to published reports in Hollywood, Chevy Chase and "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels are developing a TV comedy in which Chase would star as the father of three teenage daughters, in a twist on the long-running Fred MacMurray comedy, "My Three Sons" (ABC/CBS, 1960-72).
HEY, HEY, HEY!
Bill Cosby's "Fat Albert" is coming back to TV, but just for one night as UPN presents "The Fat Albert Christmas Special" on Christmas Eve.
The special -- based on the animated children's series, "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" (CBS, 1972-79) -- was first presented on primetime TV in December 1977. The story has Fat Albert and his friends discovering the true meaning of Christmas while reaching out to a homeless family.
Cosby hosts the special and does the voices of Fat Albert, Mushmouth and Mudfoot.
HO, HO, HO!
Dick Clark, Danny Bonaduce, Mario Lopez and Dr. Jan Adams -- the co-hosts of the syndicated talk show, "The Other Half" -- are signing up for Santa School to see what goes into being a professional Santa.
The show's Dec. 19 episode will feature footage of the fellas trying on the red suits and doing their best to convince a panel of kids -- ages 4 to 6 -- that they are really the jolly old elf.