A new urban myth has sent a small California beach town into a minor tizzy — for the second time. Phones at the Pismo Beach, Calif., Chamber of Commerce began lighting up four months ago as parents tried to verify rumors that MTV: Music Television's Spring Break programming would originate from this tiny beach town. The area is near the last part of the state's shoreline where one can legally drive on the beach, but the town's so small that the majority of the "floats" at its annual Clam Festival are actually kids pulled along in their wagons. It's not a metropolis that can absorb college kids in search of their 15 minutes of fame.
Chamber CEO Charla Anderson said the organization is doing everything it can to quash the rumor, which also surfaced two years ago. "I don't know where it's come from. I think it's just hopeful thinking," she said. The rumor didn't result in increased commerce —even MTV doesn't make a 50-degree day at the beach attractive, she noted.
... Despite rampant cost cuts at technology firms, cable operators and vendors gave until it hurt at Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing of the Rocky Mountains' sixth annual SkiTAM event in Vail, Colo. The tilt drew 700 registrants and 58 sponsors and hauled in about $400,000, a record figure that beat last year's total by about $80,000, said SkiTAM co-chairman Steve Raymond, ESPN's Western division vice president of affiliate sales and marketing. That money will benefit the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, which relies heavily on each year's SkiTAM for funding. More than 300 skiers raced down the giant-slalom course during the main event.
The big winners of SkiTAM's "sport" division (read: Regular Joes) were Lucent Technologies (the top finisher), Scientific-Atlanta Inc. (second place) and Concurrent Computer Corp. (third place). Trygve Myrhen's Scandinavian Channel took the gold in the competitive category (the real skiers, imported or otherwise), followed by AT&T Broadband and Portal Software Inc. Startup Aerocast Inc. skied off with the dubious "Most Time on the Course" award. They may stream quickly, but their skiing needs some work.
Next year, expect some extra brain cells to be spent on how to handle an event that has grown in popularity and is now bursting at the seams: At the awards banquet, a handful of tables had to be placed outside the ballroom due to limited space. The challenge in 2002 will be "how to manage the size of the event and to keep it intimate," Raymond said.
... Jim Honiotes continues to prove that his talents don't begin and end with hawking a cable network. Honiotes, International Channel Networks' vice president of marketing and communications made his debut on April 6 as Lt. Brannigan in the Littleton, Colo., Town Hall Arts Center's rendition of Guys and Dolls. It's not Broadway, but it does fulfill one of Honiotes' lifelong dreams. He isn't drawing a paycheck for the part, and there are expenses for costumes and such. "Anyone knows a good hobby always costs you something," he joked. Though his role includes only speaking parts outside a few chorus songs, Honiotes has been known to carry a tune or two —you may remember him as the lead singer and percussionist in cable band Cerebral Hemorrhage.
Others may recall that he's belted out the national anthem before a number of Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rockies games.
... Careful readers of Turner Broadcasting System Inc. press releases may have noticed something funny about the statement that announced the appointment of Brad Turell to executive vice president of communications. The font was goofy looking.
It turns out that Turell, the former top flack at The WB, brought his favorite font, Comic Sans MS, to his new gig. Turner publicity's standard font, Times New Roman, has apparently gone the way of the Roman Empire. "I brought it because that's who I am — this all should be fun, and it should be easy to read," said Turell, adding that he hasn't yet mandated that all of the Turner nets use his favorite font. Electronic-mail messages from other The WB flacks already had that look.
...Discovery Channel has staked out the prehistoric-animal beat with Walking With Dinosaurs
and the like. Now Animal Planet has latched onto the wildlife of the future. The Future Is Wild, due in the first quarter as a weekly primetime series, will use computer animation to guess which kinds of creatures might be roaming the earth some 100 million years hence. None of us will be around to test the show's hypotheses
— that Earth will welcome the rattleback, a 20-foot-long, armor-plated creature that might live in deserts in the American Midwest; the flying death gleaner, a bat/vulture hybrid; and the whale-sized Arctic giant seal.