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FLASH!

12/16/2005 07:00:00 PM Eastern

A Mixed Holiday Message From Fox News

Thank God for Bill O' Reilly. Or is
it the other way around?

The Fox News pundit is fighting
against the war on Christmas. Good Christians are under siege, he says, by the
“Kool-Aid secular-progressive ACLU America haters” who want to drive the
phrase “Merry Christmas” and Christmas symbols out of schools, public
squares—and even department stores.

And O'Reilly isn't the only one manning the front lines. FNC
afternoon talker John Gibson is barnstorming
the country and airwaves promoting his book, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the
Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought
.

So just imagine our surprise when we got a Christmas card from Fox
News featuring Santa and his reindeer flying over Fox News headquarters.

On the news “zipper” sign that runs around News Corp.'s
headquarters on the card, the message appears in bright red letters: HAPPY
HOLIDAYS.

When asked about the conflict with Fox News' star commentators, a
spokeswoman hinted that the opinion of Fox analysts is unrelated to the
corporate office.

Fine. We would like to wish all our friends at Fox News happy
holidays.

'Housewives' Play “Dirty” With Game

Just in time for the holidays, the Desperate Housewives “Dirty
Laundry” board game is on the shelves—but don't put out those cookies and
cocoa for the entire family.

The game is recommended for ages 13 and up, but even Flash! couldn't
help blushing at some of the phrases printed on the cards: “Your pregnant and
overweight wife has a very itchy hemorrhoid” and “Your elderly grandfather
secretly gropes people in crowds.”

To win the game, players must piece together clues on “Secret”
cards by correctly answering trivia questions based on the show's first
season.

The game could stump even the most finicky devotee of Wisteria Lane:
What's the first line of Mary Alice's blackmail note? What restaurant are
the Van De Camps in when Rex says he wants a divorce? Who on Wisteria Lane
likes to dress up in leather, spikes and stilettos? We could go on and on.

“Dirty Laundry” is one of several corporate-inspired gifts
ABC is hawking to capitalize on its
Golden Globe-nominated soap.

The game sells in a flashy tin collector's case for $19.95 on
ABC's Web site, but a cheaper version in a flimsy white box goes for $9.99 at
Walgreen's.

And if a Desperate Housewives seems
too awkward to play, other TV-show board games have just hit the market.

Fans can test their forensic skills with the CSI: Miami game from
CBS. VH1's
popular clip show I Love the
'80s
has spawned a game for people who are still stuck
in that decade. And for next Christmas, ABC is plotting a game about
Lost.

They all need to get a Clue.

Just Call It People Programming

Margaret Loesch, founding CEO of the
Hallmark Channel, who was there from 1997 to
2001, is watching the cable industry's gyrations to invent a
“family-programming tier” with amusement.

She's not so sure that a family tier will catch on with viewers and
is absolutely positive Hollywood producers don't want to be associated with
“family shows,” because the genre seems to be just the opposite of cutting
edge.

At Hallmark, “I offered $100 out of my own pocket to anyone on my
team who could come up with a term that was synonymous with 'family' but
didn't use the word 'family,' because within our industry, it's sort of
a death knell,” she says. “The perception is family programming is either
old-skewing programming or cartoons.”

Loesch, who is now co-CEO of her own film- production company,
The Hatchery, says, “I bet you, at
ABC Family right now, they're tearing their
hair out because they'd like to change the name, because you just don't
know what to do with that word.”

But, she adds, “If you can get beyond the word 'family' and
redefine it, the bottom line is, the public likes it. The public wants to sit
down and watch programming that parents can watch and not be embarrassed if
their kids walk through the room.”

Just don't call it family programming.

March