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Move over Paula, make way for Julie

Former Chrysler exec Roehm picked as judge for CBS reality series

Julie Roehm Photo credit: George Waldman
Is Julie Roehm the next Paula Abdul?

The former Wal-Mart marketing executive who found herself smack dab in the middle of one of adland's steamiest scandals has been chosen as a judge on the new CBS reality show "Jingles" by hit-maker Mark Burnett, according to Forbes.

It appears, though, that her 15 minutes of fame might be derailed, because the debut of the competition show -- in which contestants are tasked to write and perform catchy jingles for products, foods, toys and more -- has been postponed indefinitely by CBS.

The series, which was being filmed in Los Angeles and originally scheduled to have its debut July 27 at 9 p.m. EDT, is on hold after top brass at the network felt they haven't had enough time to promote "Jingles," a CBS spokesman said on Tuesday.

What's behind the delay

According to executives familiar with the matter, the "Jingles" casting crew was in a tizzy as of just a month ago, sending out dispatches to ad folks citing a "time crunch" in assembling a judges' panel, with a specific eye on pinning down a female ad or marketing executive.

Oh, and part of the criteria was the hotness factor: "It is television, therefore, being attractive would be a bonus," said one e-mail dispatch from Sam Gollestani, casting director for the host and judges.

Gollestani, reached by phone, declined to discuss the show. Roehm did not return calls for comment at press time; a CBS spokesman for "Jingles" declined to discuss potential judges.

It was earlier rumored that producers were considering an "American Idol"-like setup with two males and a female plucked from the music and ad industries. But it isn't certain who would play Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson to Roehm's Paula, and the setup has since been changed.

Will marketers hesitate?

Roehm's involvement brings about the question of whether marketers who sell goods through Wal-Mart -- that is, just about everybody -- would be reticent about integrating their brands into the show. Although the legal tussle between Roehm and the retailer wrapped last year, it's hard to imagine the boys in Bentonville biting on too many deals that involve co-promoting a show that features her.

Putting marketing consultants and agency types on reality shows has a very short and not particularly successful history. ABC's Simon Cowell project "American Inventor" purged all three of its marketing-industry judges after one season in 2006 -- including former JWT executive creative director Ed Evangelista; new-product consultant Doug Hall; and Mary Lou Quinlan, an N.W. Ayer alum and founder of the consulting firm Just Ask a Woman. Hall and the others clashed frequently, making for excitement, but not great ratings (or many big product placements).

Roehm formerly was a Chrysler group marketing executive, who left the automaker for Wal-Mart in February 2006. In December 2006, Roehm was fired over an ethics dispute by Wal-Mart, where she was senior vice president of marketing communications. A high-visibility court battle ensued.

Roehm and Wal-Mart backed off from the litigation in November 2007.

You can reach Rupal Parekh at rparekh@adage.com

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