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Cox Chief Pat Esser Saves Steven Tyler’s ‘Idol’ Party With a Timely Truck Roll

1/23/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Cox Communications has a
well-earned reputation for customer
service, demonstrated once again last
week with an assist to rocker and American
Idol
judge Steven Tyler.

Tyler was in Las Vegas, where the show
was shooting. With season 11’s opening
episode debuting on Fox last Wednesday
night (Jan. 18), Tyler wanted to have
a premiere party in his hotel suite for fellow
Idol judges Jennifer Lopez and Randy
Jackson, host Ryan Seacrest and all of
the show’s producers, Tyler’s manager
Eric Sherman told The Wire.

Only problem was the suite at the
Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (née Hilton)
lacked a high-defi nition digital video recorder,
and Tyler was concerned there
wouldn’t be time to get from the taping
to the party before the season opener
(produced earlier in Savannah, Ga.)
aired at 8 p.m.

Cox provides TV service in the hotel. So Sherman, the
former head of VH1 Classic, emailed his friend, Cox president
Pat Esser, about the situation on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, seven technicians from Cox
showed up “and basically rewired the suite so all the TVs
run off a newly installed HD cable box,” Sherman said.

“That’s customer service,” he added.

While the technicians did their thing, Tyler provided
entertainment, playing Beatles tunes on the suite’s
grand piano. He also posed for a
photo with Cox technicians Joe Risco, Joe Hays,
James Haynes, Dustan Shambaugh,
Dale Corson and Mike Tabat.

Esser, through a Cox rep, explained
a DVR is not standard
hotel issue, but the situation was
unusual.

“We always do our best to meet
the individual needs of customers,
and the Cox Las Vegas team did a
great job to respond to Mr. Tyler’s
request,” Esser said. “You know
times have changed when the only
things rock stars are asking for in
their hotel rooms are DVRs.”

Postscript: Sherman reports that
an “amazing time was had by all”
at the party. And when Aerosmith
comes through Cox hometown Atlanta
this summer, “Pat will watch
the show from on stage.”

Current TV Tardiness,
Univision Weirdness
Were TCA Lowlights

At the cable portion of the
Television Critics Association
Winter Tour in Pasadena,
Calif., scheduler CTAM arranged
for more than two
dozen cable networks to present
over a two-day period with
relatively few hiccups.

A couple of incidents,
though, left TV critics and network
executives seeing red.

On Friday (Jan. 13), consecutive
late-starting and longrunning
sessions from Current TV and Starz pushed back
the start of A&E Network’s presentation by nearly an hour.

Current’s gabfest with chairman Al Gore and several onair
personalities not named Keith Olbermann (said to be
on vacation and, therefore, unable to address a reported
blowup with management over election coverage) left Starz
CEO Chris Albrecht clearly perturbed. He tried to make light
of the situation before pitching new drama Magic City and
action series Spartacus: Vengance.

“This delay is wreaking havoc with all our pre-Golden
Globes parties that I’m sure we’re going to see each other
at tonight,” Albrecht said. “Is there some penalty for networks
that go over in their time? Never invited back?”

A&E’s show-and tell of new Western drama Longmire was
late, too. “I would say good afternoon, but it’s really good
evening now … special thanks and shout-out to my friend,
Chris Albrecht for pushing us till 6 p.m. tonight,” A&E president
and general manager Bob DiBitetto said.

More surreal was Univision’s presentation of the new
Jennifer Lopez/Marc Anthony music/reality series Q’Viva!
The Chosen
project on Saturday morning (Jan. 14).

Already balking at the unusually early 7:30 a.m. start
time, writers were unamused when the recently divorced
star couple and Univision personality Lourdes Estefan
began bantering among themselves, ignoring writers’ questions.

Only after one TCA writer loudly interrupted them did J-Lo
and Anthony acknowledge the
writers in the room.

After two cursory questions,
the panel abruptly ended. Then
came a lively dance number —
and Univision didn’t allow anyone
to move until the performance
was over, a further source of irritation.

CTAM’s Jason King said the
organization would look for ways
to keep cable-network presentations
flowing on time. He also
said, “CTAM and the TCA leadership will be working closely
with Univision regarding their future tour participation.”

Boston Mayor Digs Cable
Come Convention Time —
Hates It When Rates Rise

Could the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
face a tough game of beanball when it convenes in
Beantown for its annual convention this May?

The Wire and others wondered that after Boston’s mayor
and inveterate cable rate critic, Thomas Menino, continued
to aim for the headend in his push for authority to re-regulate
basic-cable rates.

Complaining about Comcast’s raising of rates for the
second time in 10 months, Menino again asked the Federal
Communications Commission to recertify the city as a rate
regulator.

Menino filed a petition to
that effect in May 2011, citing
a 60% rate increase, but
the FCC has yet to act on it.

“We are asking the FCC
to give us the tools to help
support consumers, especially
those working families
who are disproportionately
affected by rapidly rising
basic-cable rates,” the
mayor said last week. “Boston
subscribers of basic
cable paid $24 million more
than our neighboring communities
over the last four
years. If basic cable service
were regulated, Boston could better advocate for the
fair rates and consumer protections that our neighbors
enjoy.”

Asked by Multichannel News if that was an unfriendly
welcome to cable operators bringing their convention to
the city, the mayor’s press office revised and extended
the remark, adding: “The cable industry has been a committed
community partner in Boston, and we look forward
to continuing those positive relationships.”

The mayor later appended this outburst: “We look
forward to the Cable Show’s inaugural visit to Boston
in May, 2012! We’ve been working with the staff of the
NCTA, as well as the folks from Comcast here in Boston,
to make sure that the 2012 Cable Show is a great success.
We’re excited about showcasing Boston as a worldclass
city of innovation and opportunity. I hope to be at
the Cable Show to welcome everyone to Boston.”

The Wire has it on good authority the mayor faces an
uphill battle on re-regulation anyway. The FCC has only
granted recertification twice before, sources said. And in
one of those cases, it eventually concluded that it was
right the first time and once again ruled that the effective
competition threshold had been met.

September