Star Is Born at TNT Upfront As Steve Koonin Bails Out A.V. Guys From Epic Fail


Epic A.V. problems at TNT’s upfront
presentation in New York last Wednesday
(see Content, for the programming
news) was an opportunity for
reporters, media buyers and network stars to
see how entertaining Turner Entertainment
Networks president Steve Koonin can be.

The longtime Turner exec showed fine
comedic chops, filling on-stage time for an
awkward several minutes, while tech crews
attempted to restore power to numerous
television screens at the packed Hammerstein
Ballroom. (The network officially
said a power surge caused a temporary
disruption to video

Koonin joked that
he didn’t know when
the video would be
up and running but
that ad execs “should
ration the pastries”
that were placed at
each seat.

“We’re out of beverages
and I also heard that the toilets were
clogged, but what the hell,” he vamped, before
unsuccessfully attempting to lead the audience
in a round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

When Turner executive VP and head of programming
Michael Wright came back onstage,
he smartly offered to sign Koonin to a
10-episode deal. Koonin later told B&C’s Ben
Grossman that he was going to hold Wright to
that offer. The Wire thinks he was joking.

Koonin’s heroic save was much appreciated
by the TNT and TBS talent attending
the upfront: the
stars gave their
boss a much-deserved
ovation at the postupfront

He also gave media
reporters plenty
to tweet about.
Brian Stelter of The
New York Times
for one, asked rhetorically
whether it was the funniest upfront
ever and observed at the end of Koonin’s
stint, “Videos work now, sadly.”

Colbert Spins Bid
For Super PAC
Into Comedic Gold

Stephen Colbert last week filed a request
for an advisory opinion from the Federal
Election Commission
on his proposed
Colbert Super PAC, which is meant, among
other things, to be a shot at the U.S. Supreme
’s Citizens United decision
allowing direct corporate and union funding
of campaign ads ahead of federal elections.

The host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert
wants a “press” exemption for his
political-action committee, so that his mentions
of the PAC or airing of PAC-produced
commercials will not be treated as contributions
by Comedy parent Viacom.

The request was almost devoid of humor,
with one exception. After saying the Colbert
Super PAC activities would not be coordinated
with any candidate or political party,
the filing noted that “Colbert Super PAC
will also pay usual and normal administrative
expenses, including but not limited to,
luxury hotel stays, private jet travel, and
PAC mementos from Saks Fifth Avenue
and Neiman Marcus.”

While Colbert said some of the PACproduced
ads would be shown only on his
show for illustrative purposes, the plan
also is to buy ad time to air some of those
ads “on other shows or networks.”

Colbert started to collect money even
before the FEC makes a ruling, agreeing
to shake hands for a dollar a grip — no
kissing on the lips, no eye contact — with
a crowd of mostly young people who answered
his call to come to FEC headquarters
to support him on May 13.

Cox Stocks MREs
That It Hopes
Are Never Eaten

An army travels on its stomach — and
so do cable engineers responding to a
weather disaster.

Cox Louisiana has several pallets of
MREs, the notoriously unpalatable “meals
ready-to-eat” developed by the U.S.
military, stored in a warehouse in case
another massive hurricane on the order of
Katrina sweeps into its territory.

The operator has enough MRE rations
to last the 135 members of the critical
response team for approximately two
weeks. Cox Louisiana vice president of
engineering Mike Latino said the MREs
were provisioned following Katrina in 2005,
when getting crews fed was a huge logistical
challenge. “You have to make sure your
plans encompass food and housing,” he explained.
(For more, see cover story.)

Cox Louisiana’s MREs have a 10-year
shelf life (an indication of their relative
tastiness) and Latino hopes they are never
needed. “If we get to the end of 10 years
and don’t have to use them, I’ll be happy
to burn them,” he said.