Date: 16th November 2000
In what today's (Thursday) New York Times described as "emblematic of the rapidly blurring line between programming and peddling in American entertainment media," the NBC sitcom Will & Grace will employ Mattel's $60,000 prototype of a doll modeled after Cher in tonight's episode.
The Cher doll "guest stars" on the episode (along with the real Cher) via a deal involving the producers and writers of Will & Grace, NBC, Mattel and the Ketchum Entertainment Marketing unit of the Ketchum public relations agency, the Times said. It involves promoting a Mattel Web site where viewers can sign up to be alerted when the doll goes on sale.
Gary Ruskin of Washington-based Commercial Alert told the newspaper, "We're getting to the point of one long, seamless commercial with a few scattered scenes in between." But an NBC spokesman responded: "The doll is used by the producers because they thought a lot of humor would come out of it."
Source: Studio Briefing