Ground Zero Gives Actors Unexpected Roles for E!

An aging Dustin Hoffman looks closely in a mirror. Using his fingers to pull his face taut, he resurrects the famous line, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me, aren’t you?”

Hoffman’s playful mocking of Hollywood’s obsession with youth and vanity is a highlight of a new rebranding campaign for the E! Entertainment cable network. The work, from Ground Zero, Marina del Rey, Calif., broke last week during E!’s pre-show coverage of the Oscars.

TV spots are now running on E!, but will appear after April 15 on cable networks such as MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Lifetime and FX, and during Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition. Print is running in lifestyle and entertainment books, and outdoor ads are also going up.

The effort is E!’s first large-scale campaign since launching in 1990, said E! Networks president and CEO Mindy Herman.

Sources estimated the media buy, handled by Starcom in Chicago, to be worth $8-10 million.

The tag, “Enjoy the show,” “speaks to enjoying and celebrating the entertainment industry,” Herman said. “We wanted to make a more emotional connection with our viewers,” she added.

In addition to Hoffman offering his line from The Graduate, other spots show Eric McCormack of Will & Grace delivering dialogue by The Godfather’s Vito Corleone, and Ving Rhames reciting Robert De Niro’s Taxi Driver line “You talkin’ to me?” Two more spots, with Minnie Driver tackling a Hannibal Lecter scene from Silence of the Lambs and Lisa Kudrow sharing a scene from Mommy Dearest, break in the coming weeks.

“We were looking for a way for them to walk the walk,” said Ground Zero creative partner Court Crandall. “The best way to [portray E!] as a source of entertainment was to show rather than tell.”

Also, a new on-air and online look uses red, black and white to symbolize the red carpet, the black-tie events and the cameraman’s spotlight and flash of the paparazzi.