Through The Wire: Cue Gary in the Delivery Room

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During the highly partisan House Judiciary Committeeimpeachment hearings, humanity made a surprise appearance. On Saturday, Dec. 12, chairmanHenry Hyde took a time-out from steering the fourth article of impeachment through thecommittee to make an announcement. "Mr. Gary Ellenwood, the field-operations directorfor C-SPAN, the network that has provided the wonderful pool for televising this inquiry,was just beeped. He is on the way to the hospital, where his wife, Tess, is ready todeliver his fourth child. So we wish them well." Thus, the world received its firstnews of the imminent arrival of Quinn Hayes Ellenwood (seven pounds, seven ounces) overthe C-SPAN impeachment-cam, which was picked up by CNN, PBS and other cable andbroadcast networks. C-SPAN spokesman Rich Fahle said the new parents got more than theirshare of phone calls after the word was spread. But the heaviest call volume was receivedby the paternal grandparents, who have been "inundated" with congratulations attheir home in Columbus, Ohio.

You couldn't really say that Paul Allen -- theMicrosoft Corp. cofounder, who's laid out billions of dollars of his own money to buyMarcus Cable and Charter Communications -- lacks the financial wherewithal to own andoperate a cable system. But last week, the City Council in Hammond, La., found anotherreason to oppose a transfer of Charter's franchise there to Allen's CharterCommunications LLC. The council resolved that prior franchise obligations hadn't beenmet, including a provision for "state-of-the-art" service. It further determinedthat Allen, "having no previous cable-television experience, has no qualificationsfor operating a cable-television system, generally, or specifically in the city ofHammond." Charter responds that it "feel[s] very strongly that [it is] incomplete compliance with all requirements" in Hammond and a neighboring communitythat adopted the same resolution. There's still time to get some experience: The citycouncil plans to meet Dec. 22 to discuss its relationship with Charter, so issues on thetable could be resolved before the ordinance takes effect, city attorney Ron Macalusosaid.

Maybe it's the holiday spirit, or maybe it'sstill riding the high of the recent success with News Corp., but the normally frugalEchoStar Communications Corp. seems to be throwing its money around lately. Thecompany just updated the set of its monthly "Charlie Chat" show, addingbig-screen TV monitors for ambiance and a custom-made desk for guests. The new digs'on-screen debut came earlier this month during Dish Network's "TechnicalForum" -- also a spanking new show. The Wire correspondent who tracks the chats saysher favorite set featured an old beat-up sofa and chair.

The other day, Kevin Kay held up a chart that Nickelodeonuses to measure the potential of kid-oriented programming concepts. Kay, senior vicepresident of production at the network, pointed just above "Boring" and"Interesting" to "Stupid," which was about in the middle of thespectrum. "There's good 'Stupid' and bad 'Stupid,'"he explained helpfully during a press briefing in New York earlier this month. "Good'Stupid' would be Jim Carrey," he said. "Bad 'Stupid' wouldbe anything with Pauly Shore." One of the pilots that Nick has in development is JimmyNeutron, a computer-generated cartoon being developed by one of the creators of AceVentura, Pet Detective. Guess that must be "good 'Stupid.'"

Guess which news network plastered a cheesy"DESERTFOX" logo on the bottom of the screen during its Iraq coverage lastweek?


By Kent Gibbons, from bureau reports.

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