Most of us take home a T-shirt or hat for the better half after trade shows. But you're on notice: The ante has been upped significantly. When Time Warner Cable's Bev Greenberg returned home to Milwaukee from the Cable Television Public Affairs Association confab in San Antonio, she presented her husband with the opportunity to play a cameo role in one of ESPN's offbeat "This Is SportsCenter" commercials. You know the ones-shot in Bristol, Conn., featuring anchors like Dan Patrick and Kenny Mayne and pro athletes. Greenberg, the system's government- and community-relations vice president, bid $1,500 for the ESPN cameo at a CTPAA auction to support the Emma L. Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media Inc. Another generous bidder was ESPN spokesman M.C. Antil, who is now $1,200 lighter but who can now noodle out "Sharp-Dressed Man" on a Fender Telecaster signed by the bearded members of ZZ Top. The auction raised $13,000, with backers crediting the great take to Cox Communications Inc.'s west Texas vice president and general manager Randy Wink, a fourth-generation auctioneer. Honey, he's so good, he coaxed $800 out of CTPAA president John Wolfe for a digital camera that sells for $600 retail.
- - - Hey, CAB! You're 20 years old next year. Where are you going? "We're going to Disney World." OK, so our Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau sources really said Orlando, Fla., but hey, that's close enough. As part of its 20th- anniversary celebration, the CAB is taking its eighth annual Local Cable Sales Management Conference to Orlando.
- - - Remember when Gary Bauer gave Alan Keyes a hard time during the GOP debates for diving into a mosh pit while Rage Against the Machine-or, as Bauer said, The Machine Rages On-played? Well, the guy who got Keyes into that pickle was Michael Moore. You can see how during the new season of his show, The Awful Truth, on Bravo. In the episode in question, Moore took a traveling mosh pit-packed with young moshers-around to the rallies where candidates such as George W. Bush and Keyes were campaigning. When Moore invited Dubya into the pit, the GOP candidate got a little testy. "Behave yourself," he snapped at Moore. "Go find real work." Keyes, however, took the well-publicized plunge.
- - - Discovery Networks U.S. executive vice president of ad sales Bill McGowan has a new nickname this year. After McGowan predicted that cable would take in $1.2 billion for a total of $5 billion in the upfront, Discovery Channel executive vice president and general manager Mike Quattrone christened him "Five-Billion-Dollar Bill." A year ago, you'll recall, McGowan's nickname was "Billion-Dollar Bill," inspired by his forecast that cable's upfront would grow by $1 billion.
- - - How's the digital transition working at the Federal Communications Commission? For starters, none of the FCC commissioners' top cable and broadcasting aides has bought a digital-TV set. Given the cost of the sets (north of $2,000) and the level of government pay, that shouldn't come as a surprise. What is a surprise is that two FCC aides said at last week's National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas that they wouldn't recommend a digital-TV purchase even by someone for whom money is no object. "I wouldn't buy one because I think it is too uncertain," said Helgi Walker, an aide to FCC commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth. "I wouldn't jump in this first round," cautioned Rick Chessen, who advises FCC commissioner Gloria Tristani.