By  on April 26, 1994

NEW YORK -- While the distinction between entertainment and selling has often been fuzzy, TV producers are now imbuing all types of entertainment genres with shopping elements, blurring the lines even more.

At the same time, advertising is being served up under the guise of entertainment or information. And now, magazines and their editors are moving into the television shopping arena.

Aside from home shopping networks and infomercials, here are some examples of how selling will continue to permeate the airwaves.

MDR Transmedia Communications, a hybrid company that straddles entertainment and direct response marketing, is producing a program for syndication called "The Brand New You," which will perform a makeover on a different woman on each episode. "The Brand New You" will sell the hair care and beauty products used to create the makeover.

Industry sources said there is an entertainment news show in development for one of the networks that will go behind-the-scenes on the sets of upcoming film and TV productions. Viewers will be able to buy merchandise relating to the films, such as caps, T-shirts and jackets.

Since the early days of television, talk shows have been used as a vehicle for celebrities to promote their latest film projects or books, but "Bargain Basement," a Barbour Langley Programs production, modeled after a late-night talk show, goes a step further. It will offer products that guests pitch through an 800 number. If Roseanne Arnold, for example, visited the show with her apparel collection, viewers could order it on the spot.

David Goldsmith, a senior partner of MDR, said the company is also working on incorporating selling into a sitcom and miniseries.

"We're looking at all the program formats," Goldsmith said. "Every program form is fair game."

But the new programs will have to tread lightly on the selling. Experience has shown that shopping programs don't attract large audiences on broadcast TV.

"You want to maintain the entertainment element sufficiently so you don't risk the ratings," said Mark Reily, a principal of MacDonald, Grippo, Reily, an entertainment consulting firm. "If the ratings go down, it doesn't matter if the revenue stream is good, because it doesn't give stations a lead-in to the next show."

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