Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
You can hear the salivating over at Headline News, the tabloid cable channel that's about to become All-Jacko, All the Time, if it hasn't already.
The same folks who gave us well-dressed humanoid Robin Meade have truly hit paydirt this time. The network needed a new story to obsess over. The champagne corks are popping at HLN.
So forget Natalee Holloway, the pom-pom girl/coed whose disappearance has been milked for months on the downmarket cable channel Ted Turner probably wishes he'd never started.
And forget poor little Caylee Anthony and her skull-fixated Mom, a murder case whose every detail has been an obsession on "Head" Line News for months.
This is the golden age of TV pandering, and Michael Jackson's death is pure gold, as the past week's appalling, bloated-like-a-poison-toad paroxysm of Jacko overcoverage has demonstrated beyond doubt.
This past weekend's insta-panderers like CNN, MSNBC, and Fixed News will be forced to return soon to covering actual news like health care, Iran, global warming, and yes, The Amazing Disappearing Governor. (Bo-ring!).
But not Headline News, which was doing "Special Reports" on the singer's unexpected croaking within minutes of the 911 call.
As the hack comic famously told Seinfeld, "It's gold, Jerry, gold!"
The possible angles on the Jacko-death story boggle the mind; they're more than enough to last Nancy "Lacking" Grace, Jane Velez Mitchell, and the rest of the HLN Fun Bunch at least through Christmas -- and probably well beyond.
The HLN assignment desk has more action than Vegas right now.
Michael's chimp. The hyperbaric chamber. The drugs. The obscene shopping sprees and disastrous finances. The loutish father. The exhibitionistic sister. The dangling baby. The molestation trials and payoffs. The plaintiffs' lawyers. The drugs. The Liberace-like addiction to cosmetic surgeries. The nanny. The biological mothers of Jacko's alleged kids, whomever they are. Elvis' spawn, the ex-wife (Bonus!) .
Long after the absurd, mawkish and self-serving tributes to the arguably talented singer/dancer are (blessedly) done, there will certainly come the extended slimefest. And it won't be half as pretty as Michael.
It also won't just be on HLN, of course. But if you want the latest dirt, that's where you'll go first. Maybe Headline News will incorporate The Gloved One into its on-screen "bug"/logo.
The mother lode of sensational stories to come, I'm guessing, will center around the autopsy (autopsies?) and Michael's Grenada-educated physician. (Is there a possible Natalee tie-in?). We're spitballing here. But, leaden as it may seem to me, it's gold to others.
HLN has a big advantage over the National Enquirer et al - the Perspirer and all the tabs aren't on the air 24 hours a day, like the TV is. This beast must be fed - and will be, even if it's empty calories.
Elvis and Jackson fans are largely the same commodities, er, people. And Headline News' account execs know who you are -- and more important, what you buy.
At Headline News, it's a no-brainer - in so many ways.