A Chatty Jewel of an Event

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- Jewel would have preferred less chatter while she performed-was this her first cable gathering? But otherwise, the Cable Positive benefit dinner in New York drew nothing but praise last week. Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin spoke from the heart about how the cable industry-through efforts like the AIDS-action organization and many local-community good works-had "put a human face on the electronic media." He added: "I am a tried and true cable person." Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) quieted the crowd with plainspoken testimony of a trip to AIDS-afflicted South Africa. And Joel A. Berger Award recipient Marc Nathanson accepted the honor with a moving tribute to four friends who were felled by AIDS. The event also was a bottom-line success: It raised $1.24 million.

- Denverites help a neighbor out in a pinch. Communications Equity Associates senior vice president of Western operations Bob Berger learned that lesson again last Wednesday night at the Cable Positive dinner, when he arrived at table 84 only to find it devoid of fellow CEA-ites. Some couldn't make it, while others (Tom MacCrory and Brian Sweeney of the Philly branch, for example) had to head back to whence they came after pre-dinner cocktails. Luckily, there was room at Denver-based High Speed Access Corp.'s table right behind CEA's, and Berger was welcomed over.

- Bill Daniels was given a fine send-off by employees and elected officials at the system that bears his name. Given that it was held in sunny Carlsbad, Calif., the aerial flyby had no chance of being canceled due to snow. The top dignitary there was former President Gerald Ford. Daniels met the Fords when he was at the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs, system spokesman Phil Urbina said, and they became friends over the years. But if you ever have occasion to host a presidential visit, be prepared to set up housekeeping. "Ford was here for 90 minutes. The Secret Service was here for three days," Urbina added.

- The timing of the press reception that the NCTA scheduled at next month's National Show in New Orleans has some PR execs riled up. One of the biggest annual gatherings of cable hacks and flacks, the reception is traditionally an early-evening cocktail party. The NCTA's decision to move the get-together to a 12:15 p.m. brunch May 7 sparked a debate at a recent NCTA public-affairs meeting in New York, which one network executive described as a "brawl." Some PR execs at the meeting were worried that few reporters would show, since the reception will be held early on a day when many people will be arriving for the confab. "Unfortunately, there were so many other events that were scheduled on every evening that we felt we should give this a try," NCTA vice president of communications David Beckwith said. Will there be booze? Beckwith said he "presumes" that Bloody Marys will be served at the brunch, to be held at Zydeo Jaux restaurant, across the street from the convention center. The NCTA expects a good turnout, but may move the get-together back to an evening cocktail party next year if it doesn't work out as planned, Beckwith said.

- You may recall reading in this space about the new anti-cable-modem, pro-DSL campaign trumpeted by Pacific Bell, an SBC division in California. In the spots, which are in heavy rotation, a community is depicted in chaos. Cops try to quell arguments among neighbors who shout, "Web hog!" at their cable-modem-clogging neighbors. The remedy? Don't share: Get your own digital subscriber line. Well, now come press reports that PacBell's Internet servers have stalled for the third month in a row. Consumers report that e-mail sometimes takes 12 hours or more. The reason purported reason: DSL customers mailing huge multimedia files to one another. Repeat the mantra again: All networks are shared.

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