Look For This Zelig Soon on Millionaire


Talk about coincidences: Paul Gobel, the winner of Ultimate Fan Search-TV Land's highly publicized game show-is no stranger to cable television. The portly videoholic has been the "spokesface" of video-on-demand content provider Intertainer's year-long advertising campaign. Gobel's screaming face, interposed with the network's "control yourself," appears on several Intertainer promotional pieces, as well as the back of company employees' business cards.

- - - Last week's "Choose or Lose" schmooze at the Democratic National Convention was MTV: Music Television's event, make no mistake. Though the network offered free lunch and a concert to lure advocacy groups to attend, it controlled the message. When one organization's handler started passing out signs calling for the passage of anti-hate crime legislation, an MTV floor manager moved in to scoop them up before they could block rolling cameras. A few advocates managed to work the crowd surreptitiously. The Wire's favorite take-away: a key chain with the slogan "Practice Safe Politics" encasing a free condom. Thanks, Planned Parenthood, we think.

- - - Fox Family Worldwide Inc.'s program lineup may include, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but the company also has an Ironman on board. He's David Baker, New York-based vice president of ad sales. The 38-year-old, profiled last month in his local Ridgewood (N.J.) News, will be in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on Oct. 14 to compete with 1,500 other triathletes (including 150 Americans) in the Ironman Championships. The events include a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile marathon foot race, all within a 17-hour time limit. The Wire is worn out just writing about it.

- - - Discovery Networks U.S. doesn't have rights to the Summer Olympics, but that's not stopping it from going all-out on Down Under, via indirect program tie-ins just before the games begin in Sydney, Australia, in mid-September. Discovery Channel, for instance, plans Extreme Australia (Sept. 11) and Ultimate Performance: The Science Behind the Summer Olympics (Sept. 8) while Travel Channel has slated an "Australia Week" (Sept. 11-15). The latter will include Croc Hunter Holiday, starring Steve Irwin and family in sort of an Aussie travelogue spinoff of Animal Planet's top-rated Crocodile Hunter series.

- - - On the Federal Communications Commission's Web page dedicated to the America Online Inc.-Time Warner Inc. merger are about 70 electronic-mail messages from folks outside the Beltway who watched a five-hour public hearing July 27. Some communiques were less than charitable toward the five FCC commissioners. For instance, Commissioner Gloria Tristani, who struggled to understand a dispute over instant messaging, took more than a few hits. ".I am very worried that people like you, who admit openly how 'ignorant' you are of this most basic of technologies, are the ones responsible for passing judgment on such important issues," one message said. "You are so obviously confused by the most fundamental aspects of this form of communication that you should be embarrassed. It just make me sick!"

- - - Reform Party presidential semi-nominee Patrick Buchanan last week lashed out at the Justice Department for going to court to break up Microsoft Corp., which, Buchanan said, only wanted to give him a free Web browser. Justice, he said, was pointing its guns at the wrong target. "Why don't you start with these monstrous media conglomerates that are poisoning the culture from which we all have to drink?" Buchanan asked on NBC's Meet the Press. Could he have been referring to Time Warner Inc., owner of Cable News Network, which for years employed Buchanan as the right's mouthpiece on Crossfire, its nightly political shouting match?

- - -Black Entertainment Television plans to make a lot of noise around the opening of its state-of-the-art production facility in New York City's East Harlem. The network will throw a block party Sept. 9 to open the studios, from which it will originate its music-oriented shows. The party will also kick off BET's new programming lineup, which features five new music series, a talk show, a news show and several specials.