The earthquake that shook California’s Napa region on Aug. 24 spilled a sea of fine cabernet, wreaked damage on area streets and buildings, and sparked dozens of fires, but Comcast’s network apparently held up in the aftermath of the 6.0-magnitude temblor.
“So far, we haven’t found any damage to our plant or infrastructure,” a Comcast official stationed in the MSO’s California region told The Wire last week. He said no Comcast employees were hurt or injured during the quake, though there were reports of property damage.
But Comcast still had to deal with temporary power outages caused by the earthquake, which, the MSO estimated, affected about 20,000 customers in the area. Following the quake, two headends in the cities of Napa and Sonoma were temporaily switched to generator power, so Comcast services weren’t impacted as long as customers had access to commercial power.
Comcast, the spokesman said, was also able to keep its scheduled appointments following the quake.
Comcast leaned on its growing wireless broadband infrastructure to help people affected by the earthquake to stay connected.
As has been done during other recent natural emergencies, Comcast opened up its quasi-public “Xfinity WiFi” hotspots in its North Bay Area region so noncustomers could access the Internet for free whenever they were within reach of a Comcast-supplied wireless signal. Comcast, the spokesman said, also provided a Red Cross emergency shelter in Napa with a wireless gateway that doubled as a WiFi hotspot.
While Comcast’s network came out of the quake relatively unscathed, the same couldn’t be said for the region itself. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the quake caused as much as $1 billion in damage.
Michael Wright Becomes First Big Executive to Exit In Major Turner Shakeup
TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies president and head of programming Michael Wright was the first big-name casualty of what is expected to be a continued housecleaning at parent Turner Broadcasting System, stepping down from the post just as reports surfaced that the networks would offer buyouts to up to 500 employees.
Wright, a 12-year veteran, had been on the hot seat ever since his former boss, Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin stepped down in April. Wright was an early candidate for that job but took himself out of the running after poor ratings at the networks dimmed his star.
Koonin’s departure — he’s now CEO and a minority owner of the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks — was part of a broader management shakeup at the programmer in the wake of former Turner CEO Phil Kent’s retirement in late 2013. Kent was replaced by former Time Warner Inc. chief financial officer John Martin, who later installed former Turner ad sales chief David Levy as Turner president.
Wright is expected to stay on for the next few weeks as a search for his successor continues, according to people familiar with the matter. Among the possible candidates for his replacement is former Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly, who resigned earlier this year after a ratings decline.
Speculation about Wright’s future with the programmer heated up in June when Martin sent a memo to employees outlining his plan for a turnaround, dubbed Turner 2020, which would involve investing more in original programming while improving efficiencies, productivity and resource allocation. Martin also hinted at staff changes in the June memo.
Prior to Wright’s resignation, another Martin memo surfaced in late August outlining a planned buyout of up to 500 employees. According to the document, Turner U.S. employees, aged 55 or older with 10 years or more of service and excluding on-air talent and those with a written employment agreement, would be offered an “enhanced” package, expected to be better than the standard two weeks pay for every year served. The memo said the buyout program is voluntary, adding that the company would also undertake additional reductions in staffing.
— Mike Farrell
‘Longmire’ Super Fan Hopes It Finds a Home After A&E Pulls Plug
Pamela Nordick was hoping her favorite TV show, A&E Network drama Longmire, would get renewed for a fourth season around her birthday (Aug. 29).
Instead, the leader of the fan group Longmire Posse learned on Aug. 28 that the show had been canceled.
Now she’s hoping some other network will pick up the drama before the actors, including Robert Taylor and Katee Sackhoff, go their separate ways.
Nordick, 57, of Vancouver, Wash., said she’s feeling good about Warner Horizon Television’s efforts to find another TV home for the drama about Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire.
The cancellation came just as fans using the #RenewLongmire hashtag on Twitter had seemed to peak.
Now they’re tweeting for a white-hatted rescuer, possibly TNT or AMC, or an online outlet such as Netflix or Yahoo TV.
Even though the show was A&E’s top drama series, averaging 3.5 million viewers in live-plus-same-day viewing this season, the numbers were down from the second season.
Longmire’s cliff-hanging season finale on Aug. 4 had 3.7 million live-plus-same-day viewers, down from 4.7 million for the prior season-ender.
Its audience skews older than A&E’s other big scripted series, the renewed Bates Motel, which last season averaged 1.2 million viewers in the 18-49 age range, compared with Longmire’s 715,000. A&E has also been moving to more of a reality focus in primetime. And scripted shows tend to get more expensive as time goes by.
Nordick said fans reached out in sympathy, especially with her birthday coming up.
But she insisted, “I really am excited, because I think it’s an opportunity for Longmire to be picked up by a network that supports the show and appreciates its audience.”
Any potential pickup might have to happen soon: Nordick (whose nephew, Adam Bartley, plays a deputy called The Ferg on the show) said she believed the production company faced an early September deadline to keep its cast, crew and Santa Fe, N.M., studio space intact.
A&E said in a statement: “We would like to thank the phenomenal cast, crew and producers of Longmire, along with our partners at Warner Horizon, for their tireless work on three seasons of quality dramatic storytelling. We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved together.”
— Kent Gibbons
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