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Those madcap Harvard Lampoonsters are at it again.
Four years after their "parody" of Newsweek made a nation cry and a publishing empire tremble, their takeoff of USA Today hits the newstands tomorrow.
With headlines announcing that "Royal Di-vorce stuns U.K.," "Wapner elevated to Supreme Court," and "Liberty's evil twin turns 50," the 750,000 plastic wrapped copies will go on sale for $2.50 each at 90,000 locations across the country, including Safeway and Cumberland Farms outlets.
In the works since last December, the really convincing facsimile comes replete with photos and graphics in pretty pastel colors. One sure-fire knee-slapper depicts Sigourney Weaver being attacked by a killer sock puppet in a clip from "Aliens." Another guaranteed yuck-getter details the wide variety of things athletes stick up their noses.
"We wanted to parody USA Today because it was very new, widely read, and unique," said Lampy president Daniel J. Greaney '87. "We also wanted to maximize our profits."
Poonies said USA Today was instrumental in helping them divert their "skills" from the unfunny Lampoon magazine and channel them into producing a worthwhile product.
"We received a great deal of help from the people at USA Today and the paper's owners, Gannett Publishing," said Paul A. Felix '87, art director of the Lampoon. "They were very supportive: they gave us their logos, showed us unique color graphics techniques and helped us out with the final production stages."
"Publications aid us because they consider it a great honor to be parodied, especially by the Harvard Lampoon," said Joe Armstrong, publisher of the Lampy. "It signifies to them a coming of age, a certain measure of success." The Crimson has been parodied by the Lampoon more often than any other publication.
The Lampoon paid more than $400,000 to a subsidiary of Gannett Publishing, Gannett Offset, in St. Cloud, Minnesota, to print the spoof, said Armstrong.
"We were very proud that we got ads from some of the biggest advertising names in the nation," said Armstrong. Major corporations, including General Motors, Marlboro, Coke and Nestle paid more than $35,000 for full page ads in the parody.
The ads are interrupted by brief snippets of wit spoofing USA Today's sometimes optimistic and sensational reporting. Headlines in the weather section reading "Winter Wonderland encases 90% of USA" and "The heat is on" lead off stories, charts, and graphs describing a deadly Ice Age glacier absorbing the nation.
One of the front page stories details the tactics American commandos use against Qaddafi: ordering him 25,000 pizzas with anchovies and leaving a burning bag of dog droppings on his doorstep. Lampy's USA Snapshot explains that 18 percent of "us" love "our" country because "our" women have large breasts.
"Working on it was one of the most grueling experiences in all of our lives, somewhat comparable to an Outward Bound program," said Greaney. "But we think our little big book of fun will be fantastically successful."
In order to plug their latest work, Greaney and other members of the Lampoon will appear on the Today show tomorrow with Gene Shalit. On the same day, Ron Reagan, President Reagan's son, will also broadcast a taped segment on the spoof from Cambridge for Good Morning America.
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