Through The Wire: Pardon Me Baron, Is Your Lake Leaking?


Former Tele-Communications Inc. presidentBrendan Clouston has made a splash in England, his adopted home.

Clouston -- pushed out of TCI in 1997, about six monthsafter Leo J. Hindery Jr. galloped onto the scene -- left with millions of dollars in stockoptions. He apparently plowed some of his wealth into a home in London and a country-househotel in the village of Chedington, Dorset (population 100), near the Channel coast.Chedington Court, the hotel and estate, became the subject of a reported $9.5 millionrenovation. The problem was the lake.

According to a local resident and reports in the local WesternGazette weekly paper, Clouston decided to dig a 15-foot-deep, 870,000-gallon lake,which required many truckloads of water to fill. Said one resident in a December account:"The situation has got worse since they filled the lake and we have had up to 12lorries a day running through the village."

That followed a protest by what the Gazette dubbed"Eco-warriors" -- villagers who took to the streets complaining that work on theunwanted lake began before planning approvals had been obtained. In December, the Gazette-- which refers to Clouston as a "Canadian-born baron," explaining that hehas acquired the title Baron Dunure -- reported that the lake sprung a leak, floodingnearby fields.

Since then, a resident told The Wire by e-mail, Cloustonhas kept a low profile, "unlikely to be seen again except at great speed in his AstonMartin."

Sen. John McCain's campaign magic is working in some trulystrange ways.

All of a sudden, the Arizona Republican is the darling ofthe broadcast-TV industry. About 300 leaders from state broadcasting associations met inWashington, D.C., last week, and they spent part of their time conducting a presidentialprimary open to all parties.

The winner, with 68 out of 136 votes cast, was McCain --the same McCain who wanted to auction the digital spectrum that TV stations gotfree-of-charge in 1997. Second in the balloting was Texas Gov. George Bush, with 45 votes;third was former Sen. Bill Bradley, with 15 votes; and last was Vice President Al Gore,with eight votes.

Gore, of course, wants the broadcasters to use theirdigital-TV spectrum to provide free airtime for political candidates.

Not all toy makers planning new products drawn fromtelevision were inspired by cartoons.

A few spinoff toy lines spawned by nonanimation cable showswere also previewed for retailers at the latest American International Toy Fair, whichended last Thursday.

One was Endless Games' "Biography Who Am I?Game," inspired by A&E's primetime anchor series, Biography.

A Toy Vault action-figure line is based on the charactersin Jim Henson Co.'s FarScape primetime series on Sci Fi Channel. And a Hasbro Inc.action-figure line and GT Interactive computer and Sony PlayStation games are based on Animorphs,the Scholastic Entertainment-produced live-action Nickelodeon series.

Also planned are a line of collectible dolls from CreationEntertainment that are based on such classic Saturday Night Live characters as JohnBelushi's Samurai Tailor and Gilda Radner's Roseanne Roseannadanna, in shows now seen on ComedyCentral.

MTV: Music Television spawned "MTVTrack Trix," an interactive music-mixing game, and "MTV Mix Match," amusic-memory game, developed by Manley Toy Quest.

Congrats to C-SPAN honcho Brian Lamb,whose book, Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb? A Tour of Presidential Gravesites,written in conjunction with C-SPAN staff, scored an "A" from EntertainmentWeekly in a review blurb. A "tastefully written travelogue." Indeed.

Update: About a year ago, MultichannelNews reported on the "friends-and-family" offer extended by cable-modem-chipmaker Broadcom Corp. to numerous MSO executives and others in the cablesphere, including then-MCN reporter Leslie Ellis (who declined).

Broadcom confirmed offering several key MSO engineers thechance to buy 10,000 shares at the IPO price of $24. Anyone who plunked down $240,000 forthose shares and held onto them would own 40,000 shares now (after two 2-for-1 splits). Ifour math holds up, at Thursday's closing price of $190.31, that egg would have swelled toa nest-busting $7.6 million.

By Kent Gibbons, from bureau reports.