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‘Taco Bell’ TV Show A Little Too Spicy for Sponsor

March 14, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Don’t look for ``The Taco Bell Dana Carvey Show″ on ABC next week. At least not with that title.

Taco Bell, owned by PepsiCo, is pulling all of its commercials from the show, The Wall Street Journal reported today. Apparently, the spicy premiere of the show Tuesday was not a good match for the purveyor of spicy burritos.

``The format of his show doesn’t work for Taco Bell as title sponsor and we’ve let ABC know that,″ company spokesman Amy Sherwood was quoted as saying.

Several weeks ago, ABC announced that three PepsiCo units _ Taco Bell, Pepsi-Cola and Pizza Hut _ had bought most of the advertising time on the new show’s first nine programs. For their money, the companies or products would be included in the show’s title each week.

The premiere Tuesday opened with the ``Saturday Night Live″ alum accepting a giant, fake check for $18 million from a chorus line of uniformed Taco Bell servers, a giant, dancing taco and a giant, yellow dancing Taco Bell logo.

In the opening bit, they sing of Carvey as ``our whore.″ Later in the show, the comic refers to Princess Diana as a ``slut.″

It was unclear whether Pepsi-Cola and Pizza Hut also would pull out of the show, the newspaper said.

ABC said late Wednesday that it expected the program to be fully sponsored for its future outings, the Journal reported. It said Madison Avenue’s reaction was mixed to the show, which made no secret of its intention to lampoon its title sponsor.

Nonetheless, the bit ``looked like a sell-out,″ according to a USA Today review, and Carvey felt stung.

``I’m paid by ABC. I’m not paid by Taco Bell,″ he said Wednesday. ``To me, that distinction is key. If I’m not getting paid, I’m having fun with my sponsor.″

Carvey said his show next week will be ``The Mug Root Beer Dana Carvey Show,″ but refused to promise a dancing root beer mug.

``The first show wasn’t perfect,″ he said. ``Now we’ll try again.″

``The show is completely a work in progress,″ he said. ``I give us a C-plus. I’m hoping we’ll evolve the show, because we’re working our tails off and trying to make it good.″

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