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Auburn area, local celeb featured in two big ads

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County viewers watching the Super Bowl today have the chance to spot two commercials with some local flavor. One ad will include an appearance by nationally ranked Auburn bass fisherman Skeet Reese while another will star Kermit the Frog and feature a mountain setting in the Alta area, east of Auburn. Super Bowl Sunday will mark the nationwide launch of Mobile ESPN - a wireless phone-service provider catering to sports fans. To kick off the launch, a 60-second spot during the second quarter of the game will show Reese, along with more than 20 other professional athletes, a marching band and the 2005 national spelling bee champion. In the spot, "Sports Heaven" is experienced by a common man, who walks down the street in an urban setting, immersed by the content of his Mobile ESPN phone. As he leaves the office building, the world of sports heaven unfolds around him, including Reese fishing in a pond. Other athletes in the ad include Oakland A's pitcher and American League Rookie of the Year Huston Street, former Masters golf champion Mike Weir, X-Games skateboarding gold medallist Eric Koston, sprinting Olympic gold medallist Justin Gatlin, and Jon Andersen, 2003 winner of the North American Strongest Man competition. Anurag Kashyap, 2005 Spelling Bee champion, will also appear. The Alta commercial pitches the Ford Escape Hybrid and will fill a 30-second slot slated to run in the second quarter, shortly before halftime. Beverly Lewis, director of the Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Office, said it involves a scenic vista and the shoot was filmed with the cooperation of the American River Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service's Tahoe National Forest. Filming took place earlier this month and a crew spent three days in Auburn. Kermit's role as spokesman for Ford will focus on technologies like hybrids that reduce air pollution and lessen the U.S. dependency on foreign oil. The Super Bowl spot will launch a print and TV ad campaign, Ford announced in a recent statement. Sunday's Super Bowl won't mark the first time Placer County could see a local product on the screen. A cheetah adopted by Auburn's Wild About Cats was the second banana in a wildly popular Mountain Dew ad featured during a late 1990s Super Bowl. The commercial shoot in Alta was the third time location manager Bruce Dowad and Associates had selected Auburn in the last 15 months. The past year has been the best ever with 33 film permits issued, Lewis said. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.