It turns out that Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, former prowrestler and radio personality, is no fan of the Federal Communications Commission. Atlast week's National Governors' Association meeting, Ventura got to ask thefirst question of FCC Cable Service Bureau chief Deborah Lathen, who had just presentedthe agency's views on cable Internet access. Digressing from the topic, Venturaturned to Lathen and said, "I'd like to thank you for being the first FCC personthat I can physically see, which has been hovering over me throughout my career. I havenever known who these people were or what they were. Now I can put a face to the FCC,Deborah, and you are it." After the session, Ventura, who was puffing a big cigarin the lobby of the Washington hotel, said that as a former host of two Minneapolistalk-radio shows, he had always felt that the FCC had this shadowy presence."They're this entity out there that governs you, yet you don't electthem," he said. "They are very much like a big brother. You don't know whothey are. That's why I was so pleased to meet Deborah."
Shock jock Howard Stern was his usual irascible self lastweek at FX's X-rated press conference to promote Son of the Beach, the newscripted comedy series Stern is executive-producing for the network. After FX presidentPeter Liguori and senior VP of development Jeremiah Bosgang staidly addressed thepress-packed room at the Plaza in New York, Stern cut loose. "Like you, I havenever heard of FX, either," Stern told the assembled press. "I thought I wasdoing a show for Fox." Stern, a veteran of E! and a PPV record-breaker, went onto say, "There is nothing politically correct about" Son of the Beach,a spoof of Baywatch that features three buxom actresses. He boasted that herecently had all three women in his hotel room, and he didn't make any moves becausehe is trying to be a "responsible" executive. "Jeremiah, on the other hand,has f_____ everyone," Stern quipped. Hmmm. We don't get press conferences orquotes like that at the National Show. Stern expressed some dismay that New Yorkerswon't be able to see Son of the Beach when it debuts March 14 because TimeWarner hasn't launched the network yet. He complained that he gets some cablechannels where "I see Adolph Hitler every 15 minutes."
Black Entertainment Television chairman Robert Johnsoncontinues to be aggressive in extending the BET brand outside of cable. BET will teamup with music trade publication Billboard to launch a rhythm-and-blues/hip-hopsummit in August, although details are still sketchy. The summit follows on the heelsof another Billboard/BET music conference venture surrounding BET on Jazz, whichlaunched last year.
Carlos Santana's performance went anything but"Smooth" for Atlanta cable viewers watching the Grammys. About one minute intothe multiaward-winning musician's performance, the signal was disrupted by a test ofthe Emergency Alert System for Atlanta. Apparently, when the Georgia Emergency ManagementAgency and Georgia Association of Broadcasters created the monthly test schedule, no onethought to check the programming schedule. On top of it all, the on-screen graphic --which is piped through cable systems, but not generated by the operator -- said thetest/disruption was "brought to you by MediaOne." "Needless to say, wewant to change that," said Reg Griffin, director of communications for the Atlantasystem. "The incident was regrettable, but not under our control. But I guess thegood news is [that the EAS] works." EAS partners are also trying to determine why thesignal was repeated 15 minutes later in the nonupgraded analog portion of MediaOne'splant.
Nickelodeon is bringing Bill Cosby back to the big screen,sort of. The network -- with its Rugrats in Paris-The Movie to bereleased theatrically this Thanksgiving -- said its next theatrical spinoff, due in 2001,will be an animated movie based on its Little Bill preschooler series. LittleBill, of course, is based on characters in Cosby's children's books.
Nyuk: Turner Classic Movies had a Wire correspondentchuckling Friday morning with a bus-side poster that posed the following Q&A:Remember that scene in Anchors Aweigh where they bring two hookers back to theship? You do? Maybe it's time to brush up on your classics.
By R. Thomas Umstead, from bureau reports.