Business World

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Possible air show entry

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysian sky divers parachuted the national car to the North Pole this week. Many Malaysians wondered why.

The 16-member team that accompanied the Proton Wira sedan to the North Pole stayed there for two hours Tuesday. Team member Abdul Rahmat Omars said the four-door sedan started up right away -- despite the freezing weather. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad praised the feat, saying, "we might seem to be taking our economic problem lightly, but it bolsters our spirit." But some citizens derided the drop as a gimmick intended to draw attention from the flagging economy and a water shortage. Another Seinfeld? NEW YORK (NYT) -- Several networks are scrambling to find comedies that are direct descendants of Seinfeld, but one network already has a show created by a Seinfeld graduate, and it is taking unusual steps to try to keep it alive. The network is WB and the show is Alright Already, the product of Carol Leifer, a longtime writer on Seinfeld, one of Jerry Seinfeld's friends from stand-up comedy and, according to Seinfeld legend, a model for the character of Elaine. Despite what have to be called marginal ratings (a 2.1 national average, good for just more than 2 million homes), Garth Ancier, the head of programming for WB, said, "There is a 95 percent probability" that the network will bring the comedy back next season. WB believes so strongly in the show, he said, that he is actively searching for the right "smart comedy" to add to the schedule to help build Alright Already into a hit. And that search is going to include whatever comedies Ancier can find in the remainder bin next month. "We may take a show off another network," Ancier said, "depending on what becomes available." In the series, Leifer plays a Miami Beach optician surrounded by a suitably quirky cast of friends and relatives. She cited her four years writing for Seinfeld under its co-creator Larry David as a huge influence. "Watching the way Larry structured the show was great for me," she said. "I think our show has its own flavor -- kind of mocha almond." Alright Already played most of the year on Sunday nights but this week moved to Mondays. "Not a whole lot better," Leifer said. "First we faced The X-Files, now it's Ally McBeal." Gas up the phone BOSTON (NYT) -- The corner gas station might seem like an odd place to buy a wireless telephone. But a unique deal between Omnipoint Communications and Shell Oil Products of New England will allow consumers to do just that. The retail agreement, first of its kind in the nation, will enable consumers to buy Omnipoint's Digital PCS phones and pre-paid coupons for wireless service at more than 80 participating Shell service stations throughout New England. "I think it's a great idea," said Judith Lockwood, editor-in-chief of Wireless Week, an industry magazine in Denver. "You can fill up on air time at the same time you fill up with gasoline." New Jersey-based Omnipoint, a major wireless provider in other parts of the nation, is a newcomer to the Boston market. It began operations here last month, the sixth and final company licensed to sell wireless phone service in New England. In an effort to stand out from the crowd -- which includes Bell Atlantic Mobile, Cellular One, AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS, and Nextel -- Omnipoint does not require customers to sign long-term service contracts and sells prepaid coupons that allow customers to pay for their wireless air time upfront. While Omnipoint has a few stores of its own and reseller agreements with stores such as Staples and Computer City, the agreement with Shell will greatly increase its visibility, company officials believe. Put a CD where your mouth is NEW YORK (AP) -- For years, companies have rewarded sales people with cash and gifts for reaching sales goals, but now bosses are using these perks to thank non-sales employees as well. …