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Published: Sunday, 5/7/2006

As NBC probes TomKat, Toledo basks in spotlight


The premise: Katie Holmes' Toledo.

The tour guides? Casting has never been so easy.

TomKat (and baby Suri), meet FarrFink.

Tonight, two of Toledo's best-known boosters, actor Jamie Farr and Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, will show Dateline NBC viewers the town - the skyline as seen from the Docks; Ms. Holmes' favorite section at Fifth Third Field; her alma mater, Notre Dame Academy.

Dateline will be broadcast at 7 tonight on WNWO-TV, Channel 24.

Viewers won't see the Toledo Zoo or the Toledo Museum of Art. Mr. Farr and Mr. Finkbeiner lost that argument with the NBC producer who came to town.

But viewers could see Tony Packo's Cafe in East Toledo and the famously signed hot dog buns.

Tom Cruise, Ms. Holmes, and Suri will get to add their signatures to the Packo's celebrity collection. An NBC crew was given three blank buns to deliver.

Mr. Farr and Mr. Finkbeiner did not know yesterday how much of the tour will get aired. They spent about three hours with the NBC crew on April 20, two days after Suri was born.

"Hopefully, they will show enough of it that [viewers] get a good flavor of her hometown," Mr. Farr said.

At whatever length, Toledo will surface during an "uncensored multipart report" about Mr. Cruise, according the Dateline Web site at www.msnbc.com.

"In an attempt to infiltrate his tightly controlled world, Dateline undertakes a search for answers from Rome, Italy, to Toledo, Ohio, as Tom Cruise storms into theatres with his latest summer blockbuster," the Web site says.

FarrFink didn't have to dig deep to find their motivation for this role.

"I just want them to show off Toledo in a very positive way," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

There's been a spate of the opposite. He cited the national attention on the murder trial of the Rev. Gerald Robinson.

Mr. Farr noted the attempted neo-Nazi march and the ensuing riot last year in North Toledo - "my old stomping grounds" - the arrest of suspected terrorists, and the Dana Corp.'s financial problems.

Mr. Finkbeiner said: "It would be nice to offset some of that coverage with some nice shots of Toledo [so that] people who do tune in will feel good about [the city]."

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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