Well Stick to Stamp Collecting

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One person's trash is another one's collectors'item. And that seems to go for old MetroCards, as well. According to Web site The Telecard Times (www.telecardtimes.com)-which is devoted to phone cards and the seemingly mundane cards used to pay subway and bus fares in New York City-the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's MetroCards that promoted VH1's "7 Days of'70s" programming stunt in the summer of 1996 are now worth $500 apiece. And that's the second-most-valuable one, well behind a The New York Times MetroCard of 1995 vintage, each of which are now worth $1,500-plus, the Web site says. (As for The Wire, we'll stick to collecting stamps like that nifty new Stone Cold Steve Austin set from.Liberia.)

- - - Campaign 2000 update: The Wire wouldn'tbe surprised if there were a few write-in votes for James Pryce when Election Day rolls around. James Pryce? Of course, if elected, he could not serve, since he's a character played by Tom Selleck in Turner Network Television's movie, Running Mates, due Aug. 13. But he's got a well-oiled campaign machine that, since running some ads in early spring, has mounted its own Web site (Pryce4Prez.com) and mailed out "Pryce for President" T-shirts and buttons to the press, not to mention preview videos of the TNT movie. Then again, Pryce might have to fend off write-ins for President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) of NBC's The West Wing.

- - - During a discussion on interactive advertising at the Cabletelevision Advertising

Bureau's Local Cable Sales Management Conference in Denver earlier this month, Liberty Digital CEO Lee Masters told his audience 3 million people in the United Kingdom already use TV to shop for everything from pizzas to CDs. When Effros Communications'Steve Effros wondered who still buys CDs in this Napster era and added, "I could order pizza on my cell phone," Masters said those are just two categories. "If it's just pizza, you're not going to have a business," he noted. "MP3 replaced 'sex'as the most searched word on the Web [last year]," the CAB Local keynoter continued, quipping, "We've got to get our priorities straight." More seriously, he pointed out that record sales rose 7 percent last year despite MP3 and Napster.

- - - Great-minds-think-alike department: TNT recently mailed out film cans containing microwaveable packages of popcorn to the press and others to plug its "Saturday Night New Classics"-theatrical flicks like Rocky and Grease during July and The American President in August. Earlier this spring, Animal Planet mailed out its own popcorn packets to promote the June 9 premiere of its original movie, The Trial of Old Drum. And of course, MTV: Music Television promoted its MTV Movie Awards with a popcorn packet bundled with the June 5 issue of Multichannel News.

- - - The South Park gang burst onto the "Tiffany Network's" primetime schedule last week, albeit for a few seconds. That's because Comedy Central was among the participating sponsors of CBS'AFI 100 Years, 100 Laughs, a clipfest of "America's funniest movies" from the American Film Institute. Comedy's commercial promoted South Park and Comedy Central Presents as set for its "Premiere Week" this week. By the way, when South Park's creators turned up at the Oscars in drag, The Wire wonders, did they know AFI's two funniest flicks would be about men in drag-Some Like It Hot and Tootsie?

- - - It's probably not a list they wanted to be on, but three cable guys are among nine billionaires deemed by the New York Post last week as "New York's most available bachelors." Starring in the tabloid daily's "Who Wants to Marry a Billionaire?" spread on the "filthy rich, single and available" were Charter Communications honcho Paul Allen (included because of the Pacific Northwesterner's $14 million Upper East Side Manhattan condo), Bloomberg Information Television boss Michael Bloomberg and Time Warner Inc. vice chairman Ted Turner, with the Post noting that the latter is "still legally married to Jane Fonda.[but] dating again."

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