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| Off-Kilter

A Golden Opportunity to Help Fix the New Millennium's Image

April 26, 1999|ROY RIVENBURG

Got Y2K?: The new millennium has a major image problem. According to recent polls, 68% of Americans now oppose the next millennium and want to keep the current one, mainly because of Y2K computer bug fears and various doomsday predictions.

But we think the next 1,000 years are getting a bum rap. So we're holding a contest to come up with slogans or merchandising ideas to make the Third Millennium the most successful millennium of all time.

Reader Richard Showstack of Newport Beach suggested the contest and even came up with several possibilities for a new millennium ad campaign:

* The Third Millennium: Where else are you going to spend the next 1,000 years?

* Not the same old wars and plagues. Brand new wars and plagues!

* The Third Millennium: Another 1,000 years to screw up!

You get the drift. To enter and win valuable prizes, send your idea for a new millennium slogan, product or merchandising gimmick--in 50 words or less--via fax, (213) 237-4712, e-mail (see address at end of column) or letter to Roy Rivenburg's Off-Kilter, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053. Deadline is May 13.

Include your name, address, phone number and prize preferences from the following list: a boxed CD collection of 1970s songs from Rhino Records; a Weekly World News T-shirt, baseball cap or coffee mug; a Teletubbies CD; "When a Man Loves a Walnut" (a book of misheard rock lyrics); a Monopoly game with the brand new money bag token; a special edition Mr. Potato Head golfer, fisherman or doctor; an Italian cookbook; a game called Don't Make Me Laugh (which is supposed to make you laugh); a CD of "greatest hits" from the past 2,000 years; a hand-held electronic trivia game from Mattel (there's also a sports version); a Muhammad Ali action figure; an Eggel plush toy; a cookbook for pets; a kit to make chewing gum; a book that spoofs self-help books (sample titles: "I'm O.J., You're O.J." and "Ventriloquism for Dummies"); a Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus board game (we're pleased that only one of you wanted this in the last contest, however we have five more to unload); a book of word games; a CD of frog sounds; a "Star Trek" cookbook.

All entries become property of the Los Angeles Times (our lawyer makes us say that).

Loser of the Week: The award goes to the "Today" show, for tacky camera work during Katie Couric's interview with the father of Isaiah Shoels, who was killed during last week's school massacre in Littleton, Colo.

As one of Isaiah's classmates described the shootings, the father slumped in his chair and started weeping. The camera, rather than keep a respectful distance, zoomed in on the father's face, lest we miss a tear. Later, when Couric sympathetically reached over to grasp the man's arm, the camera telescoped in on that, as if to indicate that Couric is second only to Mother Teresa in compassion. But the actual effect was to make a presumably genuine gesture seem staged. The only thing missing was violin music swelling in the background.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Werewolves Anonymous: New Support Group Helps People Fight the Urge to Kill During a Full Moon!" (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Martin Miller. Off-Kilter's e-mail address is runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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