The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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How'd you like to see Harvey Weinstein on 'Dancing With the Stars'?

November 11, 2009 |  5:16 pm

Leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to make "Nine" into a huge end-of-the-year, must-see movie, Harvey Weinstein is essentially renting out the entire Disney/ABC media empire in the hopes of inducing millions of couch potatoes to scamper out to the multiplex next month to see his lavish Rob Marshall-directed musical. It's hard not to appreciate the delicious irony of the partnership in light of Weinstein's acrimonious split with the studio years ago. As Variety reports in this eye-popping story -- especially eye-popping in the way it makes it abundantly clear that virtually everything on TV these days is up for sale -- it will be difficult to turn on your TV without being subjected to a blatant plug for "Nine."

Cruz ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" won't actually have the twinkle-toed movie mogul appearing in person. But its Nov. 17 show will feature a dance number set to "Be Italian," one of the featured songs in "Nine," with dancers donning outfits from the movie. Even better, a host of ABC soap operas, including "All My Children" and "General Hospital," will have episodes in December with plugs for "Nine" written into the storyline. The movie's trailer is slated to run Nov. 22 on every Disney-owned network (Lifetime, ABC Family, SoapNet and A&E) as well as during the "American Music Awards" which airs that night.

The Variety story is filled with endless bragging from marketing executives about the benefits of all this plugola-style stealth advertising ("Look at the breadth of who we reach -- we can reach any demo multiple times through any given day," boasted Disney/ABC Unlimited senior VP Dan Longest). If you ask me, using bare-knuckled product integration to promote a movie billed as an Oscar contender is unbelievably tacky, since it transforms a supposedly classy film into just another cheesy household product.

On the other hand, I'm betting that envious rival studios will be eagerly trying to get their Oscar hopefuls in on the scam. After all, Oprah has already been the head cheerleader for "Precious," which is supposedly a top contender in the Oscar race. So let's see ... if "Nine" can pay for plugs on "Dancing With the Stars," then maybe "Avatar" can pay for a plug in "Family Guy," "An Education" could slip a plug into an episode of "Desperate Housewives," "The Hurt Locker" would seamlessly drop into "CSI" while "The Lovely Bones" would be a perfect fit for "Cold Case" or "The Ghost Whisperer." And hey, if the price was right, I'm sure Jeff Zucker could talk Jay Leno into working some "Inglourious Basterds" jokes into his monologue.

Imagine the possibilities. If you read my blog one morning and see me writing repeatedly about some Hollywood movie project whose future is still "Up in the Air," you'll know that I'm on the take, happily shilling for some award-season movie along with everyone else. (I'm being sarcastic, of course. I'll leave the plugola to ABC and the other networks.)

Photo of Penelope Cruz in "Nine" from the Weinstein Co.