Don't be surprised to see Federal Communications Commission chairman William Kennard get the red-carpet treatment the next time he steps off the plane in L.A. (Or maybe even BET Holdings Inc. CEO Bob Johnson, who just announced plans for DC Air.) That's because Kennard's older sister, Lydia Kennard, is the new executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, overseeing 2,300 employees and a budget that checks in at $891 million. Lydia, 45, became the city's highest-ranking woman administrator in March, when Mayor Richard Riordan gave her the job with the unanimous consent of the City Council. Like brother Bill, Lydia packs solid credentials: a B.A. in urban planning and management from Stanford University, a law degree from Harvard and an M.A. in city planning from MIT. "She's smart and you know it, but she is not snobbish at all. She has a pretty good sense of humor," said Rick Orlov, city-hall reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News. The airport job is huge, encompassing not just LAX, but three other city-owned aviation facilities. Now overseeing a $12 billion expansion program, Lydia has one of the city's most powerful jobs. "It's a real moneymaker for the city," observed Orlov, "and it's really important for the rest of the city's economy as far as trade and tourism." Just one more thing: L.A. bureaucrats are better paid than the D.C. variety. Lydia's salary is $211,702, versus Bill's measly $125,900.
- - - NBC engaged in a little light-hearted cable bashing last week with promos for its summer replacement show, M.Y.O.B. In a spot proclaiming that NBC's summer season is here, an M.Y.O.B. actress says, "OK, look, what's on in June? Reruns of 'Shark Week' on cable? I mean, how many times can you watch that? At least we're new. And I'm more fun to look at than a fish." Discovery spokeswoman Lynn McReynolds said she hadn't seen the Peacock Network's spot, but she added, "We're flattered." However, she corrected NBC's claim by pointing out that Discovery will offer five new premieres during its 13th annual Shark Week Aug. 13 through 20, including a Sharks 3-D special. Viewers will be able to pick up the 3-D glasses at all LensCrafters and Discovery Channel stores. Lifetime ratings guru Tim Brooks and Turner research chief Bob Sieber were both surprised that NBC took such a direct shot at cable, especially since it, too, owns cable networks. "The broadcast networks have traditionally ignored cable," Brooks said. "The best way to defend yourself is not to give your competition publicity. We thank them."
- - - VH1 got quite a plug on ABC's hot Who Wants to Be a Millionaire last Tuesday-several hundred-thousand dollars worth, based on its ad rates. And it didn't cost the cable network a penny. ABC invited its previous big winners back to compete in a "Champions" tournament and share their winnings with their favorite charities. Among them was Neil Larrimore, a radio DJ who told Regis he was playing for VH1's "Save the Music Foundation." Larrimore even went into some detail about that initiative to restore music to public schools' curricula. Larrimore made it to $64,000 before quitting, so VH1 will get half. "How cool is that?" said a VH1 spokesman. By the way, the virtually unknown Larrimore got higher ratings than superstar Diana Ross and company on VH1's recent Divas 2000, given that game show's hefty Nielsen Media Research numbers. An average 22.2 million people watched last Tuesday's episode.
- - - Employees of Tacoma Power and Light can do it all for you-light your house, install your cable TV, even identify signs that your neighbor is operating a methamphetamine lab. Say what? Yep, in a sad sign of the times, the municipal power company recently held a training session at which police educated field workers on how to recognize drug labs. Stressing that power and cable workers are not undercover narcs in training, a department spokeswoman said, "We don't want the meth-lab users to think we're snooping. That just puts a big target on our backs." Instead, the training simply recognizes the breadth of hazards a worker may encounter in the public rights-of-way. A subsequent training module included dealing with blood-borne pathogens that might come from the prick of a discarded syringe.
- - - While not as loud as the outcry over Time Warner pulling the plug on ABC, a rogue martial-arts support group called Grappler's World is encouraging fans of the sport to send e-mails to In Demand voicing their displeasure with the pay-per-view network for banning Ultimate Fighting Championship PPV events. In a prepared letter to the network, the group-noting that the controversial sport has received the backing of the California State Athletic Commission-blasts In Demand for its "cable censorship" of the sport. Further, the letter states that with the growing popularity of DBS and the development of video streaming over the Internet, "there will be far fewer people needing or even wanting what you claim is 'service' from the cable monopolies." The letter ends with a threat of contacting the FCC and groups such as the Consumer Federation of America about the matter. So far, In Demand officials said, they haven't received a large number of complaints from the group.
- - - Andrea Thompson bowed out as Det. Jill Kirkendall on ABC's NYPD Blue season finale last week. In fact, she's leaving her acting career behind to try her hand at TV journalism by becoming a real-life reporter for KRQE in Albuquerque, N.M. The Wire wonders if the station caught her topless scene in HBO's Arli$$ a couple of weeks ago.