From Tall Ships to Loose Lips

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During the Tuesday opening general session at last week's CTAM Summit in Boston, AT & T Broadband CEO Dan Somers told attendees he's so excited when he wakes up every morning "that I tingle," drawing muffled giggles from some attendees. Ex-Fox Family Channel executive Rich Cronin and Wink Communications Inc. CEO Maggie Wilderotter couldn't resist playing word games during Wednesday's raucous closing brunch session, which Cronin moderated. "With everything going on with enhanced TV," Cronin said, "it's got to be exciting for you. So when you wake up in the morning, what do you do?" Wilderotter replied, "First thing I do is I tingle, Rich-and that's with a 'g.'" "Did you say tingle, T-I-N-G-L-E?" Cronin asked. "OK, I thought it was something else." "It's going to be a long time before Somers lives that one down," one network marketing executive told a Wire correspondent on the shuttle back to New York.

- - - CTAM conventioneers who went on Boston Harbor cruises sponsored by Steve Nelson's Cable Channel, CTAM's New England chapter or Cahners Television Group got to see some tall ships that remained after the weekend's OpSail extravaganza-the last one for eight years. Nelson's gang also got to see aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy and the Saturday-night fireworks show. And the heavy rainstorms of last Tuesday evening had many aboard the Cahners craft mentioning another ship-The Perfect Storm's Andrea Gail.

- - - A close look at the Emmy nominations, unveiled last Thursday, shows some interesting head-to-head competitions. One is Chris Rock versus Chris Rock. The comedian is nominated solo as a writer of his Bigger and Blacker Home Box Office special and among a staff of writers on HBO's The Chris Rock Show. There will also be Cartoon Network's Powerpuff Girls versus Comedy Central's South Park boys in the 30-minute animation category. Then there are clashes that make you go, "hmmm." Like MTV: Music Television's Real World-Hawaii being up for a best editing statuette-maybe for censoring Teck's private parts?

- - - Broadcasters are hoping to drop a rhetorical bomb on the cable industry at a July 25 House Telecommunications Subcommittee hearing on the transition to digital television. Their secret weapon: pornography. Cable has successfully fought digital must-carry at the Federal Communications Commission, arguing that analog and digital carriage would chew up channel capacity. But broadcasters, having complained for months about the lack of cable carriage of their digital-TV signals, will likely try to poke holes in that argument. They can note that if AT & T Broadband can find room for The Hot Network, why can't it find room for some of the 148 local stations on the air in digital today?

- - - Capitol Hill and industry sources said AT & T Corp. tried to get a provision inserted into the Federal Communications Commission fiscal-2001 budget last week that would have killed the FCC's merger conditions on AT & T's purchase of MediaOne Group Inc. But sources said the effort was derailed by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.). Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was prepared to forward the plan, which some said would have gutted the merger conditions, while others said Stevens would have only required the FCC to review its rules that limit AT & T to serving no more than 30 percent of all pay TV subscribers. In the end, Stevens never went forward with any proposal.

- - - The Arbitron Co., which announced plans last week to spin off from parent Ceridian Corp., will-once the spinoff becomes official Jan. 1-take over Ceridian's seat on the New York Stock Exchange. But it has yet to decide on its new stock symbol. "We wanted 'ARB,' but we can't have it," lamented Arbitron president Steve Morris. ARB is the abbreviation of its original corporate name from eons ago, American Research Bureau, which was changed because too many consumers thought it was a government agency. The only way Arbitron could get the ARB symbol is to acquire its current user, American Realty Trust Inc., one wag pointed out.

- - - During an episode of Paramount-syndicated Entertainment Tonight two weeks ago, co-anchor Bob Goen plugged a behind-the-scenes look at All in the Family as its latest profile of a past primetime hit TV series by saying, "We've uncovered the original pilot with a different Meathead and Gloria." But on the weekend profile itself, ET did credit TV Land with uncovering that original pilot, which ran in its entirety when the network began repeating the Norman Lear series classic on the schedule months ago.

- - - While navigating a rough patch as president of E! Entertainment Television, Lee Masters recalled recently, he came up with an unusual way to keep his spirits positive. He took photographs to remind himself of the good things that happened each day, in order to offset any negativity that arose. But that idea doesn't appeal to everyone. Masters, now Liberty Digital's CEO, said that when he suggested it to his son, the teenager's eyes rolled in exasperation.

- - - Baked goods boo-boo: A Comcast Corp. representative set us straight on the Republican cupcake quickie recently posted here. The MSO underwrote last week's party for Republican National Convention volunteers, where special RNC-logo TastyKakes will be served. But Comcast didn't pay to have them made.

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