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Sears To Play With K-B Toys at Christmas

But not with ABC; pulls ads from 'Politically Incorrect' over 'cowardly' comment

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Sears Roebuck & Co. (Hoffman Estates, Ill.) has announced a licensing agreement with K-B Toys (Pittsfield, Mass.) in which 29 “K-B Toys at Sears” departments will be tested in 29 Sears locations this holiday season, in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and Mobile, Ala.

The shops will average 1500 square feet of selling space and will feature a variety of brand name and exclusive K-B Toys products. The first location will open on Friday, September 21, at Sears'brand new State Street, Chicago, store. On Saturday, October 20, 19 departments will open in the Los Angeles area; eight stores in the Detroit area; and one in Mobile.

K-B Toys is the nation's largest combined mall-based and online specialty toy retailer, operating more than 1300 stores in all 50 states, Guam and Puerto Rico under the K-B Toys, K-B Toy Works, K-B Toy Outlet, K-B Toy Liquidators and K-B Toy Express nameplates.

Sears also announced it has pulled out as an advertiser of ABC's late-night TV show “Politically Incorrect” after host Bill Maher referred to past U.S. military actions as “cowardly.” FedEx Corp. (Memphis) took the same action.

After a guest referred to the terrorist actions as cowardly, Maher said, “We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly.”

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“Customers voiced a concern for bashing our leaders, our military and the country,” said Sears spokeswoman Lee Antonio. “Sears is very entrenched in the communities where we do business, and very sensitive to where we place our advertising.” Antonio added that “The company recognizes that freedom of speech is critical to America and that Bill and his guests can say whatever they want to.”

Maher said his comments were aimed at political leaders, not soldiers, and he defended his right to offer criticism in difficult times. “I should have been more specific,” he said. “I never meant to imply nor have I ever thought that our actual servicemen are cowardly. It's our government, it's our politicians, who have been cowardly in not letting the military do their job.”

ABC issued a statement supporting Maher. “While we remain sensitive to the current climate following last week's tragedy, and continue to do our part to help viewers cope with unfolding events, there needs to remain a forum for the expression of our nation's diverse opinions.”

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