Through The Wire: Calling All Reds! Calling All Reds!

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Since this is the season for Anaheim-bashing, and the"I can't get into the Hilton or the Marriott" buzz is getting old, here are somenew oddities to use as conversation-starters:

Registered Communists may now attend the cable convention with a clear conscience.
  Several dinosaur statutes have now been rendered extinct, following the OrangeCounty Board of Supervisors' review. These include the Cold War-era requirement thatMarxists register with the sheriff's office after setting foot in the county.

But one word of caution: In case your flight is delayed, and you get a case of the happyfeet in gratitude when you finally land -- don't. The stick-in-the-mud lawmakersinexplicably left intact a prohibition against dancing, chanting or singing out loud atJohn Wayne International Airport.

Fresh off his seven-city National Spot Cable Forum roadshow, National Cable Communications VP Ken Little recalled his earlier touring days, asthe bass player for 1960s rock group Canned Heat.   The group had three top40 hits from 1968 to 1970, and it is best-known for"Goin' Up theCountry," which was on the Woodstock album. Little said his rock-star yearswere fun, "but I wouldn't do it again."  Nowadays, he prefers trying tomake topics like interconnects and electronic data interface sound catchy.

Spies for the Wire have recently noticed promos for Fox Family Channel on Nick at Nite. Inquiring minds wanted toknow: Could this signal détente between Viacom Inc., Nick's parent, and former Viacomexec and current Fox Family jefe Rich Cronin? Nope, says Paul Ward, vicepresident of publicity for Nick at Nite. What the viewers saw was probably a local adinsertion. Cable systems can sell spots to promote other networks as long as the spots donot contain specific tune-in info, he explained.

AMC Networkspresident Kate McEnroe tells The Wire that "budget hell" was even worse thisyear because she and others in RainbowMedia Holdings Inc. moved offices from Woodbury, N.Y., to Bethpage, N.Y.,during the process. Working from boxes tends to make it difficult to find the informationneeded to make year-to-year comparisons. But by next month, the Rainbowites will all behoused in one large building, rather than spread over 15, as before. Rainbow's newlocation is "like a cruise ship," but without shuffleboard, McEnroereported.

Ongoing presidential-impeachment hearings, unsettlingtensions in the Middle East and a potential bombing of Iraq are all occupying the thoughtsof White House staffers these days. But despite all of that, at a White House briefingrecently, presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart felt compelled to discuss a more importanttopic for him: the mention of his name on ESPN's SportsCenter.

During the show's college-football segment, SportsCenter host Stuart Scottmentioned Lockhart during a reference to a five-pound barbecue bet placed betweenPresident Clinton and Vice President Gore on the Arkansas-Tennessee game. Scott quotedLockhart as saying that Clinton "was quite confident" that he would win thisyear's barbecue, but he then quipped that Lockhart should have lightened up and saidsomething like, "Mr. Prez said he was gonna whack upside Al Gore's nugget,y'all!" Days later, during the briefing, Lockhart said that being mentioned on SportsCenter"fulfilled one of the requirements in life ... When you are on SportsCenter,you will understand," he told the press corps.


By Linda Haugsted, from bureau reports.

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