Cut the Sex Fantasy, Cue the Football

Contributors: Tom Umstead, Ted Hearn.

Cut the Sex Fantasy, Cue the Football

If broadcaster ABC was trying to titillate viewers with its recent risqué and controversial introduction to its Nov. 15 Monday Night Football telecast, it most likely didn’t work for hardcore fantasy football fans.

In fact, last Monday’s sexy locker room skit between towel-dropping Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan and Philadelphia Eagles player Terrell Owens was probably a more unwelcome delay to the start of the game for fantasy players than anything else.

That’s because about 40% of fantasy sports players think more about how to improve their fantasy teams than about sex (30%), according to president of sales and marketing Mark Mariani.

At a recent Sports Media and Technology forum in New York, Mariani referred to a recent survey conducted by,which also revealed that 58% of respondents said they spend one to three hours each day thinking about how to finish first in their respective leagues.

And if you’re wondering why workplace productivity suffers between October and January: Some 25% spend four to eight hours a day on fantasy sports.

Mystery Man is on Demand in Orange

The hottest topic in the city of Orange, Calif., these days surrounds the identity of a newly elected school board member.

Although no one knows who he is, Steve Rocco bested an incumbent to earn a seat on the board. The locals are apparently so desperate for information on their new leader that they have prevailed upon Adelphia Communications Corp.’s local access corporation to re-air three programs produced by the mystery man that are almost a decade old.

In the shows, the board member-elect interviews a college professor, a drummer and a witch. Not exactly compelling television.

But the operator got so many requests it rescheduled “Issues and … P.S. Rocco” for multiple airings last Friday and Saturday.

Curious voters had to find friends in neighboring communities, such as Anaheim and Buena Park, though. Adelphia had the goods, but it doesn’t serve Orange.

They Fought Law And the Law Won

Attorneys from two top firms aiding the cable industry stepped up for charity at an auction to support Cable Positive at the annual dinner for the Southern California Cable & Telecommunications Association.

The trade group raised a total of $5,150 by bartering three big-ticket items, an amount to be split between the SCTA and charities.

The take might have been bigger, had the sound quality at this year’s venue been better. Auctioneers had to shout over the talkative cable crowd and compete with stony acoustics at a Pasadena, Calif., design center space known as “The Wind Tunnel.” The voices in Anna Nicole Smith’s head could be heard with more clarity.

Still, spirited bidding ensued.

The biggest donation of the night: $2,600 for a private box at Staples Center, including all food and drink, for the bidder and nine guests for a Lakers game. Getting that was Bill Bly of Cole, Raywid & Braverman LLP.

Not to be outdone, Thom Miller of Robins, Kaplan Miller & Ciresi LLP pledged $1,300 for a trip for two to Seattle for two nights, a tour of Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project and a “Women in Rock” customized Gibson guitar.

Tad Yo of Time Warner Cable was the third big spender, bidding $1,250 for lunch at a private club with Falcon Cable founder and current Charter Communications Inc. board member Marc Nathanson and publisher Paul Maxwell, followed by a tour of Nathanson’s home and private art collection.

New Names Surface For Sachs Replacement

Korn/Ferry International, the executive recruiter hired to find the next president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, is beginning the first round of interviews this week, having whittled the list of potential candidates to about 11 people.

In the past, former NCTA spokeswoman Torie Clarke seemed a safe bet, but sources say she’s telling everyone she’s happy at Comcast Corp.

So, some new names are needed:

  • Kathleen Abernathy, Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission and a big supporter of cable-modem deregulation. She even voted to sunset program-access rules in her only major break with FCC chairman Michael Powell. But she lacks the Capitol Hill contacts that will be needed for expected re-write of 1996 Telecommunications Act next year.
  • Mitch Rose, Washington lobbyist for The Walt Disney Co. He’s a former aide to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who will be driving telecom reform legislation next year as chairman of the Commerce Committee. Word is he’s a long shot.
  • Tom Tauke, a former House Republican from Iowa and longtime Verizon Communications Inc. lobbyist, is also widely mentioned.

Korn/Ferry thinks it can wrap up fast if an outstanding candidate can be identified. Otherwise, expect current NCTA president Robert Sachs to hold down the fort for a few more months.