Letterman’s Late-Night Self-Promotion

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Like Johnny Carson, who expanded into production in his later years, David Letterman is no longer just a late-night TV host. He is also a producer of prime-time series through his company, Worldwide Pants, and in the next two weeks several stars from those shows will be chatting up their new programs on--you guessed it--”Late Show With David Letterman.” This week’s guests include Christine Baranski of the Letterman-produced CBS sitcom “Welcome to New York” and Tom Cavanagh, the title character in “Ed,” which Worldwide Pants is making for NBC. Baranski’s co-star, Jim Gaffigan, is scheduled to join Letterman on Oct. 10, while Ray Romano (yes, Letterman has a hand in his show too) turned up last week in advance of tonight’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” season premiere. Of course, there will be the usual mix of guests, including a couple of Olympic gold medalists, and both “Late Show” and “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” are featuring stars from series on their networks as well as performers featured elsewhere. (Letterman has Geena Davis, for example, who’s starring in a new ABC sitcom, while Leno has ABC’s Jenna Elfman and Norm Macdonald.) Still, who’d have thought an irascible guy like Dave would take the gold in self-promotion?

Is Eminem Sending a Different Message?

Look for rapper Eminem, his producer Dr. Dre and their entourage to hit town this week to film a video for “Stan,” one of the most talked-about tracks from Eminem’s blockbuster album “The Marshall Mathers LP.” In the song, a fan of Slim Shady, Eminem’s alter ego, dispatches a series of progressively distraught communiques to the rap star, telling how much he admires the rapper and how similar their lives are, and boasting about some self-destructive behavior he thinks the rapper will admire in return. In belated response, Eminem gives some sensitive and cautionary advice, suggesting that Stan be less wrapped up in what Shady says and that he seek counseling. The video could put Eminem in contention for back-to-back video-of-the-year honors after his win for “The Real Slim Shady” at last month’s MTV Video Music Awards. Of more significance is whether the drama-in-miniature of “Stan” or its video will affect the public debate raging over Eminem’s sex-and-violence raps. “I think the song is definitely different--it sends a message I haven’t heard in other songs he’s written,” says Lisa Worden, music director at KROQ-FM (106.7), which has been playing “Stan” in heavy rotation for most of the summer--the full 6 1/2-minute album cut, with profanities bleeped. “People who know him intimately probably realize that this is how he is, but for the general public that doesn’t know him, it presents another side of him,” Worden says. And the response from the KROQ audience? “We’ve gotten positive and negative reactions,” she says. “Eminem is a controversial artist for KROQ because we play primarily rock, and some listeners don’t think we should play rap. But a lot of people applaud us for playing it.” Interscope Records expects to send out an edited, 5 1/2-minute version of the single to radio stations in about two weeks.

Well, at Least the Kids Are Aware of It

In 1999, at the height of the Pokemon card-collecting craze, Warner Bros. released a feature film for children based on the wildly successful Game Boy property. “Pokemon: The First Movie” debuted at the top of the charts, raking in $31 million its first weekend, and went on to gross $85.7 million in North America. Last summer, as the craze began to wane, the studio came out with a sequel, “Pokemon: The Movie 2000,” which has so far grossed only about $43.6 million. Now, rival studio 20th Century Fox is hoping to tap into a similar craze that began in Japan in 1997 as a virtual pet game and last year hit American shores as an animated series on the Fox Kids Network. Produced by Saban Entertainment and Toei Animation Co., “Digimon the Movie” will be released Friday in about 1,800 theaters. But some wonder: If the craze is so big, as Fox would have us believe, why are we hearing so little about the movie? Fox explains that while adults may not see much in the way of promotion--there is no outdoor advertising for the film--kids certainly are getting the message through commercials on children’s TV programs. The studio says that’s the most efficient way to reach kids. Elie Dekel, president of Saban Consumer Products, stresses that Digimon and Pokemon really are two separate entities. “They are both based on the idea that young people have little monster friends,” he explains. “In the case of Pokemon, they are pocket monsters. In the case of Digimon, they are digital monsters.” Got that?


--Compiled by Times staff writers