Fourth and Long: What the ...?

Fourth and Long: How to fix hockey - Now with pie!

What was with that commercial, anyway?

A naked Nicollette Sheridan hawking some show called "Desperate Housewives" leaps into Terrell Owen's arms to delay the start of a football game? Huh? And what possessed T.O. to actually do the spot? (OK, nudity and money. Fair enough.)

What studio exec, following his five-martini lunch, decided that Monday Night Football was the perfect place to promote what is essentially a soap opera?

In case you have no idea what the show is about (lucky you), here's the Sunday episode synopsis from ABC's Web site:

"Anything You Can Do"

Susan is miffed when Mike's unexpected - and very sexy - houseguest (guest star Heather Stephens as Kendra) forces him to postpone their first official "date"; Lynette becomes steadily more dependent on the twins' ADD medication; Gabrielle becomes jealous of the "other" woman in John's life; Bree's kids mutiny when they learn their dad has moved out; and the enigmatic Mr. Shaw (guest star Richard Roundtree) comes closer to solving one of Wisteria Lane's big mysteries.

Now, that does not exactly sound like the kind of programming a meat-eating, Pabst-drinking, tired-after-a-day-at-the-plant MNF fan wants to see. In fact, any show featuring a man described as "enigmatic" or involving children's Attention Deficit Disorder medication is probably on the average football fan's list of ten shows least likely to be watched.

It's not that the ad was steamy, per se. After all, this is football, and Sheridan was not that much more exposed than your average cheerleader. It's just the horrible mismarketing that grates across a football fan's mind like fingernails on a blackboard.

Hint to the suits at ABC program advertising - try limiting ads during MNF to things viewers might actually want to see or buy. Avoid soap operas, announcements of Pavarotti's next appearance at the Met and teasers for off-Broadway shows. Stick to "Beef - it's what's for dinner" and trailers for the latest Hollywood action picture.

"It is normal for teams to cooperate with ABC in the development of an opening for its broadcast," an Eagles spokesman said in an interview following an apology by ABC. "After seeing the final piece, we wish it hadn't aired."

Yeah, so do we all.

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