Through The Wire: Get This Man a Bolo

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Ride 'em, cowboy ... or, When in Rome Dept.:Leo J. Hindery Jr. is finally going native. First, the TCI honcho bought a bigranch in Colorado. Then, he got hisself a red Dodge Ram pickup truck ... and matchingcowboy boots, of course. But the transformation of the urbane former San Franciscan torugged Western macho man wasn't complete until an old Colorado cable pal gave Leo astud bull named Waterford (as in China, get it?).Informed sources say Leo now subscribesto livestock catalogs -- the kind that sell bull semen.

And who better to honor a man with his own stud bull thansultry movie star Sharon Stone? Stone added a bit of glamour to theevening when she made a surprise appearance at last week's Cable Positive dinnerin New York to accept a $50,000 check for AMFAR, a pet charity of hers. She also paidhomage to TCI president Hindery, winner of the Joel A. Berger Award for fighting AIDS --sort of. Stone fumbled around for a minute, then blurted out, "I thought this was forLeonardo DiCaprio ... I really loved your performance in Titanic." Stone's"confusion" prompted a wag in the 1,100-person audience to yell out,"Hindery's richer!" Stone added, "I'm told Leo Hindery is a helluvaguy."

The Cable Positive bash also brought together recent legaladversaries Haim Saban, chairman of Fox Kids, and MTV Networks president Mark Rosenthal.Even though the two went toe-to-toe earlier this year in the Rich Cronin lawsuit, they hada lengthy, animated chat at the fund-raiser's cocktail party. Rosenthal wouldn't saywhat he and Saban were jawboning about. Later in the evening, Saban and Washington lawyerLeonard Baxt each kicked in $10,001 on the spot so that the night's take would break the$1 million mark.

When MediaOne assembled 300 of its topcorporate executives and managers from across the country for a corporate brainstormingsession in Colorado Springs, Colo., last month, the MSO did something quite unusual -- itbrought along one-dozen real live MediaOne subscribers from around the country toparticipate in a no-holds-barred focus group before the troops. While discussingMediaOne' high-speed Web service, one customer complained about paying $40 for anetwork-interface card, whereupon Ed Holleran, VP of high-speed data, leaped on stage,pulled out two Jacksons from his wallet and handed them to the nonplussed woman.Don't expect companywide refunds, however. That would be $40 times 23,000 MediaOneExpress customers.

What are those advertorial features plugging the cableindustry that have begun appearing in TheNew York Timesallabout, anyway? Using headlines like "Olympics Boost Cable TV Ratings" and"A Good Match for Pharmaceuticals," they look like they could have been writtenby the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau -- but the CAB says they're not. SteveRaddock, the CAB's spokesman, said the advertorials were developed"independently" by the Times, and anofficial for the paperagreed. The next advertorials -- which, a footnote says, are "produced on behalf ofparticipating advertisers," including Food Network, International Channel, LifetimeTelevision, Sci-Fi Channel and VH1 -- are scheduled for April and July.

By Charles Paikert, from bureau reports

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