Through The Wire: DBS Honcho Wars: Not Exactly Jay Vs. Dave

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Meet Dan-O, the new boss ... Incoming PrimeStar Inc.president Dan O'Brien might one day be as well-known to the DBS service'ssubscribers as EchoStar chairman Charles Ergen -- host of 'Charlie Chats' -- isto Dish Network subscribers. The telegenic O'Brien and outgoing PrimeStar Partnerschairman James Gray are appearing in a public-service announcement on PrimeStar'spromotional channel to introduce O'Brien. Gray is already known to PrimeStar subs,thanks to his other media gig as columnist in PrimeStar's monthly guide. O'Brientakes over that task, too.

Some days, it seems that everybody's getting into theInternet-over-TV act. Teddy Turner, son of Time Warner vice chairman Ted Turner, wasinvoked in a junk e-mail solicitation that we got over America Online the other day. Thepitch begins by disclosing that 'Teddy Turner Jr. privately announced' a companycalled Local Net Communications Inc. A reply brings more data about a service that uses a$249 set-top box, costs $29.95 per month and provides 'corporatepresentations' by the above-mentioned Turner as part of the package. If true (andat least one source familiar with him said young Teddy is involved with Local Net),it's a predictably entrepreneurial career move by Turner, aformerTBSemployee, who famously told The Wall Street Journal in 1996 that his fatherinformed him that he'd be 'toast' after Time Warner merged with TBS.

The latest obligatory SP item: Look for ComedyCentral, home of the grossed-out top-rated show in basic cable, to announce this week anew ancillary deal involving South Park. It's not for movies ormerchandise, though -- believe it or not, Sony has agreed to produce three soundtrack recordsfrom the animated show. Maybe Sony execs caught the Christmas episode and concluded, likewe did, that the songs were way more appealing than Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo.

It was a bittersweet scene at Spice EntertainmentCos.' first -- and most likely last -- 'Search for the Spice Girl' eventtwo weeks ago. While the semi-nude beauty contest drew over 1,000 rabid fans --solidifying the popularity of the Spice brand name -- the event was held days after Spicewas sold to adult pay-per-view rival Playboy. Nevertheless, Spice executives were upbeat,despite their uncertain future. 'It's great to see how far we've come insuch as short period of time,' reflected one Spice executive.

It's not exactly a traditional toy tie-in, but a newline of dolls based on characters from Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles wasintroduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York last week. Britain'sPaul Crees Collection should get a boost from Showtime's 'VampireChronicles' films. Two are in the works, but Showtime would not reveal thetitles.

In the beginning, newsletters came in the mail. Then, theyarrived via fax or e-mail. What's the next leap in distribution technology?Don't blame the 'communications professionals' targeted in a recentpromotional mailing for hoping that the new publication mentioned therein might help toreduce desktop clutter by being projected directly into the brain of the subscriber. Afterall, the new mag is called ... telepath. Alas, on closer inspection, it appears tobe printed on paper.


By Kent Gibbons, from bureau reports.

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