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It's a songbird, it's a plane, it's Celine being..

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It's a songbird, it's a plane, it's Celine being a flight attendant

Thursday, November 18, 2004 - Page B2

For my good friend Robert Milton, el capitaine of the Air Canada fleet, there is apparently no such thing as too much promotion. Or too much Celine Dion. At a luncheon address this week, Bob flogged his new book, a marvellous cure for insomnia, Straight from the Top: The Truth about Air Canada. Proceeds of book sales generously will go to the Dreams Take Flight charity.

The marketing of Queen Celine, Las Vegas show-stopper and the Voice behind Air Canada's new TV commercials, is a less charitable affair. There she was yet again, in a videotaped introduction to Milton's speech -- this time, Dion pretends to be an Air Canada flight attendant, in charge of an onboard beverage trolley. Her live-in Svengali, husband and manager René Angélil, stands across from her in the scene. He's pretending to be a steward. Oh, sure.

This improbable scene comes with something masquerading as a script. "Do you want something to drink," Celine coos to a passenger. "Do you want some ice?" Budding comedienne, she wonders whether she should clarify her contract obligations with Air Canada. Indeed. And while she's at it, maybe disclose whether she's being paid in U.S. greenbacks -- or free flights.

THANKS A LOT Speaking of Air Canada, it turned up in a cameo role (sans Celine, alas) on the season premier of CBS's The Amazing Race this week. The competing teams immediately scurried to Chicago's O'Hare Airport to find American Airlines. One team ran into the terminal and, stumbling upon an idle Air Canada employee, sought directions to the AA check-in. Putting her hands on her hips, the always helpful AC attendant refused to help and said rudely: "Uh, we only fly to Canada."

TAKE IT OFF Back in 2000 the fine folks at beer.com created a webcam link between bars in New York, Brussels and Vancouver, allowing "patrons" to buy beer for someone halfway around the world. Back then, such creative use of technology was called "a novelty, until someone invents the virtual one-night stand."

Until has now arrived. Beer.com has introduced Tammy, a well-endowed, scantily clad, virtual bartender -- blonde, of course -- who performs requests on-line. Visitors can ask Tammy to dance on the bar, do a topless cartwheel or perform even more risqué commands that, frankly, could make a goat blush. Tammy follows instructions, in real time.

Once owned by Labatt and now independent, beer.com initially sent out 10 e-mails about Tammy. That mushroomed into 2.3 million visits and 35 million page views in just 10 days. B.T. (Before Tammy), the site drew only 500,000 visits and two million page views during the previous 10 days. The lads at beer.com may be unabashed sexists, but they're no fools. A range of Tammy-adorned products, from calendars to mouse pads, are now available -- for a fee, of course.


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