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Profit from "American Idol" without Paying FOX a Dime

Tuesday, 10 Apr 2007 | 9:30 AM ET

How to Profit from "American Idol" without Paying FOX a Dime

This may be my favorite ingeniously cheap PR ploy of the year so far: KFC is STILL trying to convince "Idol" contestant Sanjaya Malakar to sport a "bowl cut," to promote the chain's Famous Bowls. Malakar is the young kid who hulas but doesn't sing very well, yet he continues to advance on "Idol" partly because of a subversive campaign by Howard Stern. Last week Sanjaya ignored KFC's plea to turn his moptop into a menu item. But one doesn't ignore the Colonel! This week KFC is "sweetening" the deal in an open letter to Malakar. AND I SOMEHOW MANAGED TO GET A COPY! (me and probably 3,000 other journalists).

The letter from KFC President Gregg Dedrick says in part: "The judges and critics may think you're a long shot for a recording contract, but at KFC, we think you're a real 'original.' And as the experts in Original Recipe Chicken, we know an original when we see one!" What? No line about how "your performance really BOWLED us over at KFC"? No "you sing like a chicken and it's finger looking good to hear it"? I mean, why hold back?

KFC has even provided the attached photo to show the 'do it'd like done. If Sanj will sport the bowl cut (I know him so well now I'm shortening his first name), he will get free chicken bowls for life. Really? Like, when he's 85, you're still going to cough up the free bowl? But in this new offer, KFC also promises to make a charitable donation in his name, put Sanj in its next commercial...AND GIVE HIM $5,000.

I will be watching tonight to see if Sanj bites...but with the "mute" button on.

J.R. Ewing Takes on the IRS - A Fair Fight
This year many Americans get a one-time only refund for paying federal excise taxes on long distance phone service between 2003 and 2006. Refunds are worth about $30, and any unclaimed refunds go back to the feds. A group called refundsforgood.org complains that the IRS isn't advertising enough to let people know about the refund. So today at the Federal Building in Los Angeles, the group is bringing in actor Larry Hagman to help get the word out. Larry Hagman cares about my tax return? Well... sort of. Actually refundsforgood.org is all about convincing you to DONATE your tax refund to fight things like global warming. JR will actually be asking you to a) get the money, and then b) part with it. That is so like a Ewing. Or the IRS.

This is News?
San Francisco radio station Energy 92.7 FM hopes to have a ratings winner with the launch this month of the "Fernando and Greg Show," promoted as "the first commercially broadcast gay morning radio show in the United States." Does that mean there's a gay-only afternoon drive show somewhere? (yes.) Mid-day? (yes.) Late night? (yes.) Is the news here that they put a couple of guys on in the morning? Has that been off-limits for gay broadcasters? Do they not get up early? To me the real news is ... what took San Francisco so long?

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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