And in the role of Paula Abdul … advertising’s own Mary Lou Quinlan!

Never got around to writing a post yesterday about Just Ask a Woman’s Mary Lou Quinlan being one of the judges on Simon Cowell’s latest show, a series called American Inventor, in which people—most of them truly desperate—go before an American Idol-like panel who decide whether their invention has what it takes to be … America’s Next Top Model! (Oh wait, sorry, it all gets so confusing after a while.) Anyway, we were going to make a crack that Mary Lou, as the only woman on the panel, would be assuming the role of Paula Abdul—not realizing, until we watched the show last night, how right we were. The tears flowed, as one prospective inventor after another unveiled his or her life’s work—be it a device to fill sandbags faster or an entire exercise system contained in a backpack or an edible snow globe. It was so damn emotional, we thought Kleenex might want to sign a product-placement deal. Now we’re just concerned that, like Paula, Mary Lou will start getting relationship advice from Dr. Phil. BTW, JWT’s Ed Evangelista, another judge, seemed to be channeling Donny Deutsch—well, Donny if he was wearing a suit. While Mary Lou’s bio plays up that The Wall Street Journal apparently once referred to her as "the Oprah" of marketing, Evangelista’s makes a truly strange claim—that he helped "to build Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/EURO RSCG into a household name." Last we checked, people in the industry had trouble dealing with that name, so if a name that long and confusing was rolling off the tongues of people all over America, that’s news to us.

—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor