Maybe They Lost Ergens Address


Despite EchoStar Communications Corp.'s offer to dole out free half-hour blocks of time to the top four presidential candidates, only two hopefuls took the company up on it-Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan. An EchoStar spokesman last week said that neither the George W. Bush nor Al Gore campaigns could be bothered sending tapes to run on Dish Network's "Vote 2000" channel. That left Nader and Buchanan's promotional videos running back-to-back for 24 hours a day over the past couple of weeks.
"Maybe we'll end up skewing the election,"

the spokesman mused. In any case, the Wire doesn't want to hear any more complaints from politicians on the topic of free airtime.

Under continuing pressure from some quarters in Washington to provide free time to federal office seekers, broadcasters decided to launch a counteroffensive by publishing a newsletter with the catchy title "Free Air Times." Sent to 2,400 reporters, lawmakers and regulators, FAT is a glossy catalogue produced by the National Association of Broadcasters that applauds those TV stations that have covered debates, aired issue forums and provided information on voting procedures without charge. Although FAT mainly sticks to business,
it does seem to have a rather expansive of

idea of free time.

The pub seems to equate House or Senate candidates' debates with guest shots by Republican and Democratic candidates Bush and Gore on such entertainment programs as

Night with David Letterman
Live with Regis


Night Live

Never mind the Western Show's seminars and exhibit-floor wares. Inquiring minds want to know
what's new on the Western Show fun-and-games front

. For one thing, The Bangles will rock the opening gala on Nov. 30. Major Broadcasting Corp. Network is the latest company to pull out of exhibiting at this year's Western Show. MBC said its floor positioning-with the hardware vendors-wasn't apropos to the network's desire to drive traffic to its booth. So instead, the network will host a party at the Biltmore Hotel during the show. The Cable Center is planning a "treasure hunt" related to pieces of cable industry history showcased at various booths. Lela Cocoros, chair of the Barco Library's acquisition and documentation committee, says the more booths that attendees visit, the better the chance to win a personal digital assistant.

We've heard of
Investing for Dummies
The Internet for Dummies

and so on,
but the next trend seems to be TV for mummies

. Discovery Networks U.S. programmers suddenly seem very taken with mummies. As Jerry Seinfeld might say, "What's the deal with that?" Discovery Channel plans to follow
Desert Mummies of Peru

The Ultimate Guide: Mummies

in October with
Chinchorro: Oldest Mummies in the World
, due in December. The Learning Channel, plugging its own must-see mummy shows-three back-to-back specials, due Dec. 3 under the umbrella title "
Unwrapped: The Mysterious World of Mummies

"-last week sent out a press kit wrapped creepily in mummy-like bandages. Meanwhile, American Movie Classics Monsterfest' Halloween stunt included Universal Studios' 1932 and 1959 versions of
The Mummy

plus a contest whose prize is attending the theatrical premiere of Brendan Fraser's
The Mummy Returns

next summer.

The Golf Channel, with its link to
The Legend of Bagger Vance

, isn't the only network with movies on its mind these days. Animal Planet executive vice president and general manager Clark Bunting, who recently acquired the rights to the film
Gorillas in the Mist

, said he would "absolutely be interested" in other theatricals-such as the
Born Free

and even


Carrey's outrageous
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. "[Such] franchises have been presold to viewers" by their prior outings in theaters, home video, cable and broadcast, he observed, and would be in keeping with the network's rationale that "people should be pleasantly surprised by what we do."

Calling all Angels:

TV Land last month got a jump on the Nov. 3 premiere of Columbia Pictures'
Charlie's Angels

theatrical by rerunning the 1970s ABC hit series. For its part, A & E Network last week promoted a "Hello Angels Week" on
, including profiles of Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, Drew Barrymore and others. After the syndicated

series last Wednesday profiled Cameron Diaz, one of the film's costars, it gave TV Land an unsolicited plug as the home of the original



20/20 Downtown

for the past three weeks, ABC News covered an offbeat local endurance contest,
"Hands on a Hardbody."

But get your minds out of the gutter! The hard body is a Nissan pickup truck and the contest is

on a small scale with a twist-though the annual contest predates the island getaway. Briefly, it started last month with 24 contestants required to keep one hand on the truck (except during periodic breaks), before the field dwindled to five hardy souls two weeks ago. Warren Hearne, the last man standing after 126 hours, won the $43,000 prize package, the pickup and a fishing boat. Auto dealer Jay Mallard staged the stunt in Longview, Texas, near Tyler, with various sponsors plugged via decals on the pickup's hood. Among the logos seen on
, albeit briefly, were those for Cox Communications Inc.'s CableRep Advertising and Dr. Pepper.

anchor Elizabeth Vargas said last week the contest now may spread elsewhere.

The Consumer Electronics Association has hired TechTV to produce a special CES Tradeshow Television feed to air in Las Vegas hotel rooms and on the show floor during the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January. The deal gives TechTV-the cable network formerly known as ZDTV-
brand exposure to the 110,000 tech-heads expected to attend CES
, CEA president Gary Shapiro said during a pre-CES press reception last week in New York. Top speakers at CES 2001 include Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates and America Online Inc. president of interactive services Barry Schuler.