Through the Wire


MTV Might Need Calmer Site in '06

MTV: Music Television hasn't made a decision yet about whether Miami will remain the venue for the network's Video Music Awards show next year, a spokesman for the programmer said last week.

All in all, it wasn't a very good year for the signature event, which took place Aug. 28. Hurricane Katrina put somewhat of a damper on MTV's plans in Miami prior to the actual awards ceremony. Local pre-VMA activities, like live concerts on Aug. 25 and 26 before the actual show, were suspended due to the bad weather, according to the MTV spokesman. A party featuring Ricky Martin took place as planned that Friday night, as did other MTV events on Saturday.

But at one shindig, a private party that wasn't sponsored by MTV, rap impresario Suge Knight was shot in the leg. Nothing like someone getting capped to liven up the evening.

The actual VMA telecast, hosted by Sean “Diddy” Combs, was panned by reviews in The New York Times and New York Post. And the audience voted with its remotes, as well. The show drew a 6.2 household rating, a sizable decline to 8 million viewers from 10.3 million last year, according to Nielsen.

MTV saw the glass as half-full, noting that the 2005 VMAs ranked No. 1 across all demographics, except kids and 2-plus, for the week of Aug. 22.

(Tennis) Court in Session For NBCU's Gina DaDan

Late August, early September means time for the U.S. Open at the National Tennis Center, in Flushing, N.Y. That's well known to the Tennis Channel and USA Network, whose giant posters greet visitors getting off the subway and Long Island Railroad.

The two networks' adjoining club-level suites last week hosted guests that included Sundance Channel headliner Robert Redford (at NBC Universal, USA's parent) and all manner of affiliate executives, friends and associates.

Some NBCU marketers were in the suite, of course. Only one, Gina DaDan, spent part of the tournament on the court during matches.

She works there as an umpire.

This is her fifth year at the Open, run by the United States Tennis Association, and she got started nine years ago.

“I got into umpiring after meeting an umpire at an HBO client meeting in Denver,” DaDan told us via NBCU communications colleague Vanthan Khel. “The other umpire worked, at the time, for TCI. When I returned home, I contacted the USTA, went through training and have been doing junior, amateur and professional matches ever since.”

Here are some of the great things about working the Open: “It's in my backyard; the other umpires who work here are now friends, and come from all over the world; seeing the level of play and being right on the court is incredible — and I don't have to pay $8.75 for a cheeseburger.”

She also finds after the tournament is over, her reflexes “have become very responsive after ducking out of the way from 100-mile-an-hour-plus serves.”

Apparently, once you put on an umpire uniform, spectators automatically target you as an “information booth” at the USTA complex. “So far this year,” she says, “I have been asked to find lost family members, where to find seats, who is playing on what court and if they can buy my uniform.”

Nat Geo Research Veep Kept His Word, Got Wet

Be careful what you promise.

National Geographic Channel VP of research Brad Dancer promised that if the channel broke a 2.0 household rating he would immerse himself in the pool/fountain in the entryway to the channel's headquarters.

Well, National Geographic did hit the 2.0 barrier on Aug. 21, with Inside 9/11 Part 1 (2.5 HH rating), and then topped that by achieving better than a 3.0 rating the following day with Inside 9/11 Part 2 (3.6 HH).

So, on Aug. 23 at 4:45 p.m., in front of dozens of National Geographic Channel staffers, Dancer fulfilled his promise and took the plunge. We hope towels were handy.

Life is Not Created With Air Guitar Moves Alone

Sometime those wacky contests that networks concoct have some unforeseen consequences. Such is the case with on-demand network Mag Rack's “Guitar Face” search of nine months ago.

It seems Les Campbell, who won a national search for the best guitar grimace in America, and his spouse truly celebrated during their January trip to New York City to receive the grand prize, an autographed Les Paul Guitar. This week, they notified Mag Rack they'd received another prize, conceived in the Big Apple: an 8-pound baby boy named Jacob Duncan Campbell.

Contributors: Linda Moss, Kent Gibbons.