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Infomercial of the Year: The Envelope, Please . . .

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

None of the award winners at the National Infomercial Marketing Assn. convention did a Sally Fields-type turn and said, “You like my product, you really like my product!”

But it would not have been out of keeping with the off-beat character of the event Wednesday night.

The awards show at the Mirage afforded an opportunity for the makers of infomercials such as “Braun Oral B Plaque Remover,” “Firmflex,” “Incredible Sweater Machine” and others to pat themselves on the back for a product well pitched.

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It also gave them a few good-natured pokes. Comedian Byron Allen, one of the presenters, quipped, “I wanted to come here. I want to meet the man who took a can of black spray paint and convinced millions of people that this will cure their bald spot.”

Infomercial veteran host Tony Hoffman said, “We’ve come so far. We’re giving out 12 awards tonight. Nineteen years ago, when I started, if they had given out 12 awards, each person in the room would have gotten three.”

Categories included best documercial (infomercial in a documentary format), storymercial (infomercial in a fictional story format), best writing, best production and the all-important Infomercial of the Year.

It was a big evening for Susan Powter, the nearly hairless, booming-voiced host of “Stop the Insanity,” which tells women that they “have to eat, have to breathe and have to move” if they’re going to be fit.

Powter beat out “Perfect Smile” hostess Vanna White, Microcrisp pitch person Cathy Mitchell and others for female presenter of the year, while “Stop the Insanity” won for infomercial of the year and for best production.

“I’ve always said that people don’t behave if they have nothing to lose,” Powter said in one of her many acceptance speeches. “Well, I have so much to lose now that finally I’ll behave,” casting a slight doubt on the statement with a tiny smile.

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The infomercial for “Microcrisp,” the patented cooking wrap that delivers “mouth-watering microwave meals” in seconds, was also a big winner. “Microcrisp” won for best product and best demonstration show.

Self-esteem mogul Tony Robbins’ “Personal Power 4” won for best documercial, best director and best writing.

The awards show had all the accouterments and pacing of a traditional awards show. Actress Gloria Loring, who also pitches for Acne-Satin, donned a spangly red dress and belted out “Gimme Some Lovin’ ” and “a medley of my hit,” “Friend and Lover.”

Those in the packed ballroom were also delighted by a series of film clips featuring celebrities in infomercials. Playing underneath the clip was an original song by Mark Williams titled “They Said They’d Never Do It, But They Did.” Among the stars shown were James Earl Jones, Robert Culp, William Shatner and Suzanne Somers.

A sample lyric: “Now everybody wants to do a show. We think it has to do with all that dough.”

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