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My Turn

Home Stretch For Cable Positive Dinner

2/14/2008 7:07 AM

Can it really almost be time for the Cable Positive dinner? Yes.

The HIV-AIDS information organization, producer of public service announcements and funder of local assistance outfits through six local chapters, will on March 4 host its biggest single fundraiser, a benefit event at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

This year what they’re calling the Power Awards are going to three honorees (a first): Michael Willner of cabler Insight Communications; Bill Roedy, of MTV International and MTV Networks; and Dr. Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE and former head of the HIV-AIDS initiative at the Gates Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control.

Cable Positive CEO Steve Villano sent a letter out to supporters this week, saying the dinner commitments so far "remain several hundred thousand dollars away from our budgetary goal for this year."

Over the phone, he said yesterday that this year’s committments to the dinner, significantly, has reached the $1-million mark this year. But even with other important sources of revenue — including $200,000 from the Motorola Foundation this year — Cable Positive relies on the dinner as the biggest single source of its $2.5 million budget. 

The organization would like to see the dinner bring in $1.4 million.

"Reaching that goal is imperative if we are to continue producing our award-winning, attention-getting PSAs and documentaries," Villano said in the letter.

But it’s coming a bit slower this year. Villano says an obvious reason is uncertainty about the economy. Also, for whatever reason, time seems to be compressed this year. "I think the year has just snuck up on people," Villano said. He noted that other events — including, disclosure here, the Multichannel News and New York WICT "Wonder Women" luncheon earlier on March 4 — are having a hard time making their numbers.

Board members and the dinner’s five co-chairs — Bob Miron, Angela Wong, Kyle McSlarrow, Gerry Laybourne and Judy McGrath — and their staffs are working the phones to help Cable Positive hit its goal, Villano said.

Well, I said, at least the MTV connections (Roedy and McGrath) should help make the event entertaining. Will Kanye West be on hand, I asked, using the first big name that came to mind?

Villano wouldn’t say. "You’ll have to wait and be surprised." 

And a short wait it is: even with 29 days in endless February, the dinner is only 19 days away.

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Update, update: Wyclef Jean is scheduled as a presenter, as is CCH Pounder of FX’s The Shield.

September