A Paranormal Kind of a Guy


Ready for all UFOs, all the time? Self-described entrepreneur and producer Jose Escamilla hopes so. He's putting together a company to promote carriage of something called The Borderlands Network, the first channel devoted to the paranormal.

But we already have the Sci Fi Channel, right?

"The paranormal is the root of all science fiction. Sci Fi is just remakes," Escamilla said. Borderlands will have "the real stuff," including "the most extensive footage of UFOs anywhere, even broad daylight footage," he said.

So far, the network doesn't appear to be much more than a slick Web site, touting shows such as They Live in the Sky. Escamilla said he's seeking investors and members of his executive team. He asserts he has "talked to the Dish Network about running UFO marathons," but not as yet to MSOs about affiliations.

He assured that he has teams of researchers all over the world, shooting footage that no one's seen before, except the cameraman. There's plenty of content for a 24/7 channel, he said.

"Many shows currently airing make a mockery of a fascinating field of scientific study," he said, adding it's obvious that it is time for a serious look at the paranormal, he said in a recent news release touting his network.

Even in a digital world, we would guess those little green men better come bearing carriage incentives. We can envision the cross-promotions now: crop circles in the shape of an affiliate operator's logo.

Kerner Bolts

Former Goldman Sachs & Co. cable analyst Lou Kerner headed West for dot-com fame and fortune a few years ago — actually, DotTV fame and fortune, as that Web-domaineering venture's CEO.

California-based DotTV (which secured the right to name Web sites dot-TV from the island nation of Tuvalu) didn't flame out. Tuvalu and the company sold the rights to Verisign Inc. for a reported $45 million at the end of 2001.

Kerner's based in New York again, as chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Bolt.com, which he described as "the leading teen community on the Web." It doesn't do any cable programming, but has had some cable tie-ins. Bang Bang You're Dead, a Showtime movie on teen violence, had a Bolt tie-in: 20,000 kids wrote about the topic, their thoughts were read by 300,000 kids, and awareness of the movie among Bolt.com's users rose from 3% to 78%, Kerner said.

Other cable connections: Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Interactive Capital own pieces of Bolt.com. CIC senior managing partner Julian Brodsky was in Bolt's SoHo office recently, talking up possible tie-ins to at least one cable network in the Comcast stable, Kerner said.

Julian's Card Table

Speaking of the estimable Mr. Brodsky, we heard his Cable Hall of Fame induction speech was what you'd expect: warm and funny. We heard he talked about asking his wife, Lois, where the card table was, so he could have a desk in the early years of Comcast — and that Morgan Stanley's Rich Bilotti asked, in a testimonial video later, whether Lois ever got her card table back.

He also described the triumvirate — himself, Ralph Roberts and Dan Aaron — who founded Comcast as three guys in a car. Julian always had his foot on the gas pedal, Dan had his foot on the brake and Ralph had both hands on the wheel, cool as a cucumber.

Congrats to Brodsky; to John Sie, who was inducted by John Malone; to longtime Wire acquaintance Gus Hauser, a terrific businessman, generous donor and the steady hand behind the creative explosion that was the original QUBE; to Walter Kaitz and to cable über-pioneer Robert J. Tarlton.

Modems 360

Cable-modem politics have never been easy to track. The Federal Communications Commission, local governments, and the courts have contributed to the confusion by moving in so many different directions.

The twists and turns have even caught up with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Three years ago, AT&T Corp. prevailed over the city of Portland, Ore., when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that Portland could not require AT&T to open its high-speed cable network to competing Internet service providers.

"Today's appeals court decision is good news for those who favor allowing the Internet to develop free of government regulation," NCTA president Robert Sachs said in a June 22, 2000, statement.

Today, NCTA is humming a new tune. On Oct. 6, the 9th Circuit affirmed the Portland decision in a ruling that barred the FCC from classifying cable-modem service exclusively as an information service.

NCTA lawyer Dan Brenner issued a statement the next day calling the new decision "positively bizarre."

Why the 180-degree change? Easy: The new decision's rebuke of the FCC could end up requiring cable to carry requesting ISPs.

By Kent Gibbons. Contributors: Linda Haugsted, Ted Hearn.