The new Jay Mohr satire, "Action," has some companies worried

By Joe Flint
Updated July 02, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Fox’s inside-Hollywood fall sitcom, ”Action,” is that rare example of network envelope pushing that works. Problem is, this potential breakout show might scare away advertisers with its bleep-filled dialogue and edgy humor.

”We spent a quarter of a million dollars and we got the wrong Jew!” screams hotheaded Xanax-popping movie exec Peter Dragon (Jay Mohr) after his assistant confuses the name Rafkin with Rifkin and purchases the wrong script. Dragon also makes reference to his well-endowed studio boss’ ”anaconda.”

There’s no question that this ribald look at Hollywood is inventive, but whether advertisers (who have bemoaned networks’ dull programming) will support it despite the inevitable controversy is another matter.

”We have clients who don’t want to be in it,” says media buyer Paul Schulman of Schulman/Advanswers NY, who personally likes ”Action” and thinks if Fox sticks with it, any controversy will fade. ”If ‘Action’ clicks, maybe the networks can come close to (airing) what pay cable does. I hope it works.”

”As the show starts up, it will probably be a tough sell for Procter & Gamble,” acknowledges ”Action” creator and exec producer Chris Thompson. ”But advertisers trying to attract young people ought to be lining up.” And if the show is a hit, everyone will want in. Says Thompson: ”A 30 share can cover up a lot of sins.”