Through The Wire: Were Sure Ted Meant It As a Compliment


At the TV critics winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif.,new CNN/U.S. president Rick Kaplan was asked by a reporter about his first encounter withTed Turner. 'Is it true that when Ted Turner met you, he said, quote, 'You'rethe biggest goddamned Jew I've ever seen?'' the reporter asked. The six-footsix-inch Kaplan tried to dodge the question at first, but he finally responded,'That's not exactly what Ted said ... It's close. Close enough that it's ... let'sjust say we had a good time.'

Well, we think we know who wears the pants in thisfamily. Tom Hanks, executive producer of HBO's 12-part series, From the Earth tothe Moon, was on a critics tour panel discussing the project before dozens ofreporters when his pager-watch went off. Hanks saw that it was a message from his wife,actress Rita Wilson, and he said, 'It says,'urgent' ... Let me go see what my wifewants, and I'll be right back.' The movie star dutifully hopped off the stage anddisappeared into the wings. He came back a few minutes later, assuring everyone thateverything was fine.

PR 101: Here's a tip for Chicago cable overbuilder 21stCentury -- don't schedule big press briefings during quiet periods. The company,along with partners Sun Microsystems and STR Inc., held a one-day briefing, billed as'a major telco/ISP press event,' Jan. 14 in the Windy City, attracting reportersfrom as far away as sunny Silicon Valley. But when Steve Lee, a 21st Century senior exec,kept dodging questions, he finally blurted out that the overbuilder was trying to raiseabout $190 million in bonds and, as such, that it was in a quiet period. Sun's PR hand,Paula Phelan, was quick to whisper that Sun was unaware of the quiet period when the eventwas scheduled.

Mediacom LLC's $315 million buyout of Cablevision SystemsCorp.'s U.S. Cable systems, scheduled to close last Friday, will result in remarkable jobretention, the buyer and seller agree. Out of roughly 500 employees -- maybe more -- onlyabout five are being let go, they say. Four are senior managers in the North Carolinaregion, which accounts for about one-third of the 265,000 subscribers. And two of themwere part of a team that made their own bid to buy the properties, losing out to Mediacom.Coincidence? Mediacom chairman Rocco Commisso says so, pointing out that the deal willquadruple the size of his company and saying that he wanted to find room for some of hisown executives. Bill Barbour, the regional general manager who was one of the rivalsbeing let go, said he feels no 'sour grapes' toward Mediacom, and he'sgrateful that Cablevision will try to find jobs for him and his colleagues.

When you think of C.J. Hirschfield, vice president ofindustry affairs for the California Cable TV Association, you probably think of herHerculean efforts to help put on the annual Western Show, right? Well, Hirschfieldexpanded her resume beyond cable last week, when she was sworn in for a three-year termas an official library commissioner for the city of Oakland, Calif.,by MayorElihu Harris. Hirschfield, who says she's always been 'a library freak,'describes the volunteer position as an 'advocacy function' for the city'slibraries.

By Charles Paikert, from bureau reports.