Sizzle doesn’t sell

TV promos fail femme stars

The WB’s “Pepper Dennis” had several things going for it: Strong writing, a talented cast (including lead Rebecca Romijn) and favorable reviews.

But the show’s promotion — particularly its outdoor campaign — focused on one aspect: Romijn is hot.

That may be one of the reasons “Pepper” bowed last week to chilly numbers. The net was betting that a cheesecake pose of Romijn would be enough to attract viewers, rather than showcasing Romijn’s acting or the show’s romantic comedy conceit.

That tack already failed twice this season: CBS pumped up the return of Jenna Elfman by showcasing her in a sexy outfit and pouting for the camera — rather than reminding viewers of her stellar comedic chops. And ABC first promoted “Emily’s Reasons Why Not” by simply showcasing star Heather Graham.

“It’s a very lazy way of launching a show — and they wouldn’t do it if it was an attractive male lead,” says one industry exec, who was particularly bothered by the Elfman promos.

To be fair, “Pepper” launched in early April — rarely a good time to try out wares — and on the WB, whose lame-duck status may have sent the message that the show wouldn’t be long for the world.

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