With American Idol soon set to crown its winner and its audience teetering on burnout—even the phone-in results have felt a little phoned-in since Sanjaya was sent packing—Fox is hoping to recapture the nation's sizzling love affair with the couchbound minting of new creative superstars through its latest reality venture, On The Lot. In keeping with current Hollywood trends, no step of the search for the next Spielberg (or, more realistically, the fauxteur apparent to judge Brett Ratner) will remain untouched by the almighty brand-integration dollar:
As part of its deal with "Lot," Verizon will not only see its phones used by contestants in the show and by actors in the films they make, but will also be the text messaging partner enabling viewers to vote for their favorite filmmakers every week...
For its role, Ford will see a number of its vehicles used to shuttle contestants and guests on the show around the studio lot and to film locations. A certain number of films throughout the show will integrate Ford cars more prominently, giving them more of a starring role.
"Not only are we integrating the new Ford Escape, but the idea behind the launch campaign of the new Escape," [said Ford Escape marketing manager Usha Raghavachari.]
"We're very sensitive as are the brands about being too in-your-face about it," Darryl Frank [co-president of DreamWorks Television and co-executive producer of the show] said.
Indeed, rarely have we seen as unobtrusive a reality show sponsor as Ford Motors, whose Idol music videos were almost certainly successful in forging mental links between the show, their cars, and the word "escape" in the minds of the American public. We imagine the product placement will be just as subtly palatable in On The Lot, with Ratner and fellow judges Carrie Fisher, Garry Marshall, and Jon Avnet sipping from oversized Mountain Dew sport bottles as they weigh in with their thoughts on semi-finalist entry Can You Hear Me Now?, a touching deaf teenage love story in which the heroes text sweet nothings to each other's Blackberrys through the help of Verizon's unlimited messaging plan.