There's been a rampage through Universal Studios Hollywood—King Kong is the prime (unnamed) suspect—but the theme park is staying open despite the devastation. So reads LATEXTRA, the weird, sad section of the Los Angeles Times that's become a catchall for any news that breaks past mid-afternoon. But this LATEXTRA is a fake, even though it looks just like the regular section I thumb through every day. This time, I only do a minor double take as I realize it's a four-page ad for the revamped tram ride at Universal Studios, which features "King Kong 360 3-D created by Peter Jackson." The Times has made it a habit over the past year or so to collaborate with advertisers and dress up their media buys to look like legitimate news stories. Significant criticism, along with staff revolts and high-profile firings, have ensued. But I've become accustomed to this after seeing the now-canceled NBC drama Southland, HBO's hit True Blood, the Paramount three-hankie flick The Soloist and other entertainment offerings get the same treatment. The practice has lost its ability to stop me in my tracks. That's not to say the paper won't still take some heat for its continual, deliberate blurring of the news/advertising line. But honestly, it's become old hat. So, the question would be: Is it worth it, for either the paper or the marketer? Something tells me there will be a new, more church-and-state-obliterating version any day now. For the time being, I'm reading all about the gorilla-caused devastation at Dodger Stadium and the "colossal footprints found on the beach." Not impressed. But I hear the ride's awesome.
—Posted by T.L. Stanley