Memories of Saffron Robes and Cable Guys

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Remember the 1996 National Show in Los Angeles, when Vice President Al Gore spoke and cable executives sweated the pending release of comic Jim Carrey's new movie, The Cable Guy? Gore's speech was April 29-the same day he paid his ill-starred visit to the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights, which turned out to be an illegal fund-raiser. Now Gore could be the subject of a new probe looking into whether he told the truth to prosecutors about the temple visit, and he may use his cable speech as a pseudo-alibi. Weeks ago, Gore's office released a 123-page transcript of his April 18, 2000, testimony taken by Robert Conrad, chief of the Justice Department's campaign-financing task force, in which Gore told Conrad the temple visit wasn't foremost in his mind that day. "It was not the major event of the day. I gave a speech to [10,000] or 15,000 people at the National Cable Television Association," Gore said. "And if you've ever spoken to [10,000] to 15,000 people, you know that you kind of get prepared for something like that." That's more than can be said for a lot of other cable-show presenters.

- - - BET Holdings Inc. chairman Robert Johnson apparently isn't finished with his buying spree. Fresh from a proposed purchase of the Washington, D.C., portion of the combined United Airlines and US Airways, Johnson apparently wants to buy part of the Continental Basketball Association, sources report. The CBA-often referred to as the National Basketball Association's minor league and currently owned by former basketball great Isiah Thomas-is expected to be sold to the NBA players' union. Johnson, however, could be a minority investor in the league, providing money and a television outlet for games. A BET spokesman would only confirm that the network is "giving consideration" to carrying a package of CBA games during the 2000-01 season, "to enhance our sports programming." Stay tuned.

- - - Courtroom Television Network is in acquisition mode again. The network, which made the syndicated series Homicide a linchpin of its primetime schedule, has now outbid several cable competitors to buy reruns of Profiler, according to sources. The series, once part of NBC's Saturday night "thrillogy," was canceled by the broadcast network in May. Officials at Court TV, which was vying against A & E Network to get Profiler, declined to comment last week on whether or not the crime-and-justice network has landed the show. But president Henry Schleiff did say, "Profiler is the kind of series that fits the Court TV profile." In other Court TV news, senior vice president of programming Sheilagh D'Arcy McGee has left the network after a reorganization. "We restructured and streamlined the programming department," a Court TV spokeswoman said. McGee had reported to Art Bell, executive vice president of programming.

- - - Don't tell FX president Peter Liguori you can't go home again. Last week, 39-year-old Liguori returned to his alma mater, Truman High School in the Bronx, to deliver a commencement address. As a resident of the Woodlawn section of the borough, Liguori grew up in a one-bedroom apartment with his family and lost his dad when he was a teen. He attended Truman, an inner-city school that also counts Washington Wizards point guard Rod Strickland as an alum. Liguori, who was valedictorian of Truman, got into Yale and worked his way through school, running a student laundry service at one point. Liguori said Truman provided "a very rich experience for me," giving him mentors that kept him on the right track. His message to graduates was that they should channel their anger at being disadvantaged or poor in a positive way. "I told them, 'Don't lose that fire,'" Liguori said. "I cited Spike Lee. I have worked with Spike Lee a number of times. His anger fueled him to make a difference."

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