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Correction to This Article
The Oct. 26 TV Column, reporting that Comedy Central's upcoming rally on the Mall in Washington would teach politicos how to restore sanity to the city "while simultaneously poking fun at the rally staged at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in August starring the brightest star in the Fox News Channel firmament, Glenn Beck," was changed in editing to say "Fox News Channel staged a rally at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial starring the brightest star in the Fox News Channel firmament, Glenn Beck." Fox News Channel did not stage that rally.

Zombies at the Lincoln Memorial!? Where are the brains?

A group of zombie-clad actors descended on the streets of Washington this morning to give a scare to unsuspecting passersby and to help promote AMC's new series, "The Walking Dead."

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How did the Lincoln Memorial become the epicenter of wacko TV network marketing stunts?

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In August, Fox News Channel staged a rally at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial starring the brightest star in the Fox News Channel firmament, Glenn Beck. This weekend, Comedy Central will stage a rally to "restore sanity" and poke fun at FNC's rally. And Tuesday morning, AMC will dispatch a gang of zombies to "invade" the Lincoln Memorial.

If your Tuesday morning commute takes you in the vicinity of the memorial around 7:30 a.m., prepare to be jostled by some reanimated corpses, photographers and camera crews.

The Lincoln Memorial is just one cog in the Great Zombie Invasion Wheel that the basic cable network has scheduled for Tuesday as part of a worldwide campaign to promote the Halloween-night debut of its new zombie series, "The Walking Dead."

The network has also ordered up undead gatherings at tourist attractions in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, Munich, Madrid, Rome, Athens, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, etc.

The National Park Service says it has no permit filed for zombie activity at the Lincoln Memorial on Tuesday morning by AMC suits, a posse of zombies or anyone else, WaPo Team TV's Mall bureau chief David Montgomery reported.

If the zombies are planning a "demonstration," they would need a permit for a group of undead that numbers 26 or more. A group of 25 or fewer zombies would not need a permit for a "demonstration," Terry Adams, public affairs officer of the National Park Service, told Montgomery.

If the zombies' visit is a "special event" instead of a "demonstration," they would need a permit, no matter how small the group, Adam added.

A "demonstration" is a First Amendment-protected activity -- political speech, issue advocacy and so forth. A march to end war, for example.

A "special event" is everything else -- cultural gatherings, fundraisers, sports. Think the Marine Corps Marathon or a walk to find a cure for the common cold.

Montgomery's amicus brief: A zombie field trip to promote a TV show sorta smells like a special event, in which case the zombies probably should have sought a permit. But the zombies may contend they are engaging in free speech -- and who's to quarrel with a zombie, Montgomery noted. We take his point.

When folks, or walking corpses, do show up on the Mall or near Abe Lincoln doing something that looks as though it could possibly use a permit, U.S. Park Police officers will sometimes "try to intervene, and say, 'You need a permit for this,' " Adams said.

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