Cable's Still Got a Long Way to Go


Yeouch! Here's another sure sign that cable faces an uphill struggle to publicize its mantra of improved customer service. A quip in "The Vent" column in last week's Atlanta Journal & Constitution
read: "You people need to quit complaining about AT&T Broadband's customer service. That woman is doing the best she can."

... Telecommunications is No. 1 in Washington state again this year- in complaints, that is.
In a yearly report issued by the state attorney general's office, more consumers griped about bad cable picture quality, incorrect billing and delayed service than any other industry in the state. The complaints numbered 2,181. Second place went to the travel industry, with 1,618.
Officials in the AG's office attributed the first-place finish to the fact that telecommunications companies touch consumers every day, and not to extraordinary service problems.

... Actress Angelina Jolie will pack more than knives and whips when she goes dungeon crawling as Lara Croft in Paramount Pictures' new film Tomb Raider. That movie opens June 15 and is based on the popular computer gaming series of the same name. Jolie, it seems, also will be adorned with enough Bluetooth-based equipment to bring a tear to the eye of any home-networking zealot.
According to Ericsson, the company behind the Bluetooth wireless protocol, Jolie will wear a wireless headset, giving her hands-free access to her mobile phone. The gear, available in the U.S. later this year, will give her "freedom of mobility.understandably essential when taking on foes and raiding tombs," Ericsson said. The film will also feature the company's forthcoming shockproof "Web Screen H610" cordless phone, which the character will use to access information at Croft Manor, presumably the Tomb Raider version of the Batcave.
Tomb Raider won't mark Ericsson's first movie sponsorship. The company also bought product placements in the 1997 James Bond tilt, Tomorrow Never Dies. Who says Hollywood hasn't sold out?

... Speedvision announced in mid-February that Dale Earnhardt would be among those appearing in its new, yearlong testimonial print ad campaign. Last week, a network spokesman said the campaign would be unaffected by the racer's sudden death
at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18. That's because the ad-linked to the network's coverage of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race on Feb. 3 and 4-already aired early in February. Speedvision plans a two-hour special on that race March 26, along with a special tribute to the seven-time National Association for Stock Car Racing champion.

... The war of words-and negotiating tactics-over a potential Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight heated up last week. Two weeks ago, current heavyweight titleholder Lewis accepted Tyson's challenge for a multimillion-dollar fight in June-but only if the bout is arranged according to the champ's terms. Lewis said he would accept a 50-50 split of the potential $100 million fight if he had the ability to choose the venue and the pay-per-view distributor. That would be TVKO, as that network holds a multifight contract with Lewis. Lewis also says Tyson would have to compensate his PPV network
representative, Showtime Event Television, with cash from his share of the purse. Tyson promoter Shelly Finkel responded immediately, and said the demands show "Lennox has no desire to fight Mike at all and is only looking for excuses as to why this bout cannot happen." If the prefight banter is any indication of the action that would take place in the ring, most fight fans would urge them to get it on.

... Davie Wasson-creator of the upcoming Cartoon Network series Time Squad
-told a press briefing last week that the show would feature a trio of adventurers from the future, who travel back in time to make sure Albert Einstein becomes a scientist and not a used-car salesman
and Beethoven becomes a composer, rather than a pro wrestler. As Cartoon Network Worldwide president Betty Cohen joked, the show, set to premiere in June, is going for "pure fantasy" and not educational value. Confirming that, Wasson admitted he's taking "a C-average student's approach [to history]-a Cliff Notes version of what historical characters did and giving it a twist."

... Happy coincidence or deliberate product placement? Perhaps only the producers can state the reason behind the America Online Inc. disk that appears during the upcoming season-three opener
of The Sopranos
on Home Box Office. AOL Time Warner Inc. became the new corporate parent of HBO when the merger of AOL and Time Warner Inc. closed last month. In the first episode-already viewed by some TV critics and one lucky Wire correspondent-government agents going through Tony Soprano's unopened mail come across the freebie CD-ROM.