BIG WRAP FOR ‘ROCK’

NBC comedy to go 3-D for sweeps season finale

NEW YORK – NBC plans a 3-D season finale for “3rd Rock From the Sun” as a May sweeps stunt, and has secured the Coca-Cola Co. to distribute more than 15 million pairs of glasses to viewers.

In what’s touted as the first live-action network sitcom to employ the technique (Fox Broadcasting’s “The Simpsons” tried it a few years back), portions of the “3rd Rock” episode will transport the series’ transplanted aliens to a 3-D netherworld, although no storyline has yet been developed.

“The genesis really goes back to the uniqueness of the show,” said Kevin McAuliffe, VP at NBC Marketing. “It’s the perfect show to be doing this around.”

But there may be a mini-trend in the making, as ABC reportedly is eyeing its own May stunt week for 3-D episodes, according to a leaked memo from entertainment president Jamie Tarses.

For NBC, Coca-Cola’s Barq’s rootbeer brand, which targets a similar young demo, will support the stunt with an estimated $8 million to $10 million promotion, putting glasses on bottles and six-packs, mounting a TV and print ad campaign and giving away three 1962 Ramblers, the aliens’ Earth transport vehicle.

“It’s a very original show, and we feel Barq’s is a very original rootbeer,” said a spokesman at Coca-Cola, which acquired the brand last year.

Barq’s has tried wackier promos in the past, including a jokey DNA match-and-win during O.J. Simpson’s criminal trial. And Diet Coke sponsored a 3-D halftime show during the 1989 Super Bowl. “3rd Rock,” produced by Carsey-Werner Co. and YBYL Prods., debuted on NBC in January and proved last season’s only bona fide hit.

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