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Through the Wire

6/24/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

Contributors: Kent Gibbons, Mike Reynolds.

Gumby Ready for His Next Close-Up

Gumby’s family really wants him back on television, dammit. Art Clokey created Gumby, Pokey and other clay animation figures in a universe born on network TV in 1957 as a kids’ show. His son, daughter and other Clokey Productions principals helped open a new Gumby exhibit at the American Museum of the Moving Image on June 18 in Astoria, N.Y., hosting a screening and panel chat.

Joe Clokey, son of the octogenerian Art and the day-to-day ruler of the Gumby universe, said his father really wants Gumby back on the air. (The “dammit” above alludes to Eddie Murphy’s hardbitten Gumby in the ’80s, which Joe said Art loved.)

Being unwilling to yield control of Gumby, the Clokeys haven’t gotten Gumby back on the air since the last new batch of shows aired in the late 1980s — a revival fueled by Murphy’s portrayal of the little green guy on Saturday Night Live.

But Gumby has cast a clay eye toward a new TV home: the National Lampoon Network wired into college dorms reaching 4.8 million students. College kids will love Gumby’s gentle psychedelia, or so the theory goes.

National Lampoon Inc. president Doug Bennett said last week his company (which also owns the humor magazine) and the Clokeys are talking, and he’s hopeful, but they don’t have a deal yet.

The Wire most wanted to find out what Joe Clokey meant when he said National Lampoon is “going to do something really special — I don’t want to tell you about it.”

But Bennett wouldn’t spill.

“We are, and I know what it is — and he’s right,” he said. “We’ll have fun doing it, I can tell you that.”

Can’t wait.

Here! Offers Subs 'Cash’ And Ops Early Window

Here! TV is following the Mark Cuban/Steven Soderbergh practice of simultaneous windowing, in which the director’s films run on HDNet at the same time as in Landmark Theatres and home-video platforms.

Plans call for the gay and lesbian-targeted Here! to present Assassin, a Margaret Cho concert film, concurrent with its run in as many as 10 theaters from Sept. 2-8.

The kicker for cable affiliates: general manager Karen Flischel said the service will present theatergoers with “Here! Cash,” a check/coupon made out to the distributor that customers can use to order the network.

Here! Films has booked the Regent Showcase in Los Angeles and Regent Highland Park in Dallas and is negotiating with other outlets serving gay communities. It’ll donate 100% of the box-office revenue from the theatrical run to the non-profit National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

On the small screen, Here! will air the concert as Here! Comedy Presents Margaret Cho on its linear, video-on-demand channel. The “patron saint” of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community’s performance was taped in May at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C.

Flischel said Here! Cash coupons will be worth $3.99 or $6.99 to offset VOD or subscription VOD purchases. “We want to encourage sampling,” she said. Customers would mail in the distributor-redeemable check with their cable bill, and Here! would work with operators to boost awareness of the film and the offer.

Flischel also said Here! plans other simultaneous window plays, where it has appropriate rights, and other deployments of Here! Cash. “We’re very open to experimentation and innovation. As far as operators, the shorter the window the better.”

JoJo Goes Buoyant In Big Apple Parade

The Disney Channel’s pre-school queen, JoJo of JoJo’s Circus, will hit the big time this Thanksgiving, debuting as the first original character from the channel to be immortalized as a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

She’ll be in the big time, as in 55 feet long, 32 feet wide and 63 feet high. JoJo is a clown girl who lives in Circus Town with her parents and pet, Goliath, the world’s smallest lion. To maintain the circus theme, one of JoJo’s juggling balls will be turned into a separate balloon, making it the “first animated giant helium balloon in the parade.”

This isn’t JoJo’s first public appearance experience, though. The Disney Channel characters are featured in a live stage show at Disney MGM Studios in Florida and Disney’s California Adventure.

But JoJo will go it alone in New York. Guess the little lion needs a better agent.

Selling USA’s 'Monk’ With Free Car Wash

Adrian Monk, the title character of the USA Network series, is a serious neat freak, so what better location to spread tune-in information on the series’ fourth season than places where people go to get their cars cleaned?

In cities including Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago, USA has commissioned “clean teams” to strike at designated car washes on Friday afternoons before and after the season debut on July 8. Monk’s minions will treat motorists to free washes, as well as distribute Monk Handi-Wipes and air fresheners.

Off the Bench marketing, which executes “alternative marketing” strategies, has arranged for monitors in the waiting areas of the car washes, which will screen scenes from the new season, including a guest appearance by Jason Alexander as a rival private eye.