The May Poll

A handful of telecom attorneys are vying to replace Jim May atop NAB's Capitol Hill lobby. Getting the most support from lawmakers are John Orlando, NAB acting chief lobbyist, and Dave Marventano, Republican staff director for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Also seeking the post are Marsha MacBride, chief of staff for FCC chairman Michael Powell and a former ABC lobbyist, and Robert Giese, former lobbyist for Chris-Craft. Some give Orlando and Marventano the best odds because both have strong Capitol Hill patrons. Others say NAB may pick another candidate rather than tapping the protégé of one lawmaker at the risk of antagonizing the other.—B.M.

FNC: The "Zipper" Quipper Upper

When bracing for a New York demonstration aimed at media companies last Thursday, the self-described "fair and balanced" Fox News Channel targeted picketers with the scrolling news ticker, or "zipper," outside its headquarters. The sign's messages included "Does Anyone Here Have A Job?" and "The Cleverest Sign Wins A Week's Free Vacation ... To Baghdad" and a shot at the network's competition: "CNN Agrees With You. They're Two Blocks North And They Have Doughnuts!"

The lines were written by producer Marvin Himmelfarb, a former ad and sitcom writer whose chief task is keeping the information current while putting more zip in the zipper. He toned down the quips after the war started, but saw the protest as "a good chance to let loose," adding that no bosses in the building knew in advance what he was posting. "That's my responsibility. I try to keep it in good taste."

A CNN spokesman was surprised by the lines, saying, "At CNN we don't take positions and we don't cheerlead."

Alas, Himmelfarb missed his target. The "die-in," challenging what protesters contend is the media's pro-war slant, did indeed draw a crowd to Rockefeller Center, but they blocked 5th Avenue, a fair distance from Fox News, and a planned "direct action" on the channel didn't materialize.

Other lines:

"Who Won Your Freedom To Protest ... Protesters Or Soldiers?"

"War Protestor Auditions Here Today ... Thank You For Coming! Try To Look Scruffy"

"Attention Protestors: The Michael Moore Fan Club Meets On Thursdays At The Phone Booth On 6th And 50th"

"Yell As Loud As You Want; We're Still Not Hiring Phil Donahue."—J.M.H.

Cooking Up Some Hype

Former marketing guru and Now Twentieth TV President Bob Cook is putting his promo skills to work lining up cameos for Twentieth talent. This Tuesday, Good Day Live
hosts Steve Edwards, Dorothy Lucey and Jillian Barberie hit NBC's Tonight Show. The ubiquitous Barberie (host of syndicated strip Ex-Treme Dating) has turned up on Fox's Fastlane
and will appear on CBS's Yes, Dear. Divorce Court
Judge Mablean had a cameo on NBC soap Passions.
Finally, Texas Justice
Judge Larry Joe shows up on E!'s Anna Nicole Show. "The promotional value of having our talent on high-profile shows is tremendous," said Cook.—P.A.

Williams Is the Accidental Embed

When NBC News sent Nightly News
heir Brian Williams to Kuwait City to anchor coverage, no one expected him to operate like an embed. His deployment was rather last-minute. Williams took chemical training, but not survival classes. When he wasn't anchoring, Williams and his military analyst, retired Gen. Wayne Dowling, decided to ride along on some missions, including with Navy Seals, Special Forces, and last weekend, on an Army Chinook helicopter.

Their 6-hour mission was anything but routine. After the lead chopper took fire, Williams and Co. emergency landed in the Iraqi desert, luckily near a Marine platoon. "We couldn't have been a bigger, lower target," Williams said last week after returning to Kuwait.

What followed was a harrowing 50-hour ordeal. Waiting out a sandstorm and narrowly avoiding Iraqi snipers about to attack. For a few hours, Williams' chopper was listed as missing. Having forgotten a satellite phone (one of his biggest regrets), Williams walked to an army intelligence outpost to call NBC. "We saw things we weren't allowed to see just so we could get word out."

Williams and his crew were woefully underprepared. He brought just a daypack with a reporter's notebook and some water. His helicopter crew had to scrounge meals and water. "I spent two nights in the life of David Bloom," Williams quipped. "It sure beat a day in the office."—A.R.