The Hollywood Reporter says that ABC sold out its inventory of commercials for next Wednesday's Ellen in which Ellen DeGeneres' character discovers she is gay. In fact, advertisers paid $300,000 to $400,000--a hefty premium over the going rate of $100,000 to $125,000 last season, says the trade paper.
ABC won't discuss which advertisers bought the time, for fear that protesters will harrass the companies. But the Reporter speculates that many of them are studios, particulary those pushing R-rated films. Wednesday night is a prime time to advertise movies for weekend viewing.
The ad sales are a big consolation to the network, which has been taking heat all sides over sponsorship of the episode. ABC turned down one commercial protesting job discrimination against homosexuals and another promoting a cruise line for gays. On other hand, the Reverend Jerry Falwell asked advertisers to boycott the episode. Chrysler subsequently pulled its sponsorship, insisting that it didn't want its cars associated with any polarizing issue.
ABC expects mega-ratings for the episode, with perhaps 30 percent of households with television tuned it. Yet the network hasn't committed to bringing Ellen back for next season. The series has struggled to find an identity and an audience for most of its life.