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Through the Wire

Dear Ben Browder: Wear Many Layers

I'm packing a lot of underwear.”

That was one of the answers Stargate SG-1 actor Ben Browder had when asked how he prepared for a week's shooting near the North Pole where, he confided, recent temperatures were hovering at 30 to 40 below zero.

Browder and other stars of Sci Fi Channel programs were at a restaurant in New York City's Meatpacking District on March 21, the first time the channel had ever brought its talent into the Big Apple for a press event, general manager Dave Howe told The Wire. The reason: Sci Fi never had the critical mass of scripted shows it has now. (See more in Programming, page 39.)

Browder's show actually is going away this year, after 10 years first Showtime and then Sci Fi. But the franchise goes on, including more or less simultaneous production of two made-for-TV flicks for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and 20th Century Fox.

It's for the second of the two movies — Stargate: Continuum — that Browder was about to fly to Seattle, then Anchorage, then Dead Horse, Alaska, to end up (via light plane) 200 miles north of Prudhoe Bay. Shooting was scheduled for March 23 to 29 and includes action sequences involving the U.S. Navy's Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station and other big pieces of Navy gear.

“By Friday, I'll be out on the ice,” Browder explained Wednesday night, with requisite pauses. “Somewhere in the Arctic. Waiting on nuclear submarines. And bears.”

The training material, he said, contained repeated reminders that “polar bears are the top of the food chain” and warnings never to roam alone or without serious weaponry. Which is a problem for TV action heroes because their guns are usually filled with blanks, the man who plays SG-1's Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell pointed out.

Oh, but there will be fun parts, too. For example, cast and crew members will sleep in “hooches” that Browder described as “basically a box with a heater and a bedpan.” They'll sleep six to a hooch, he said, and his bunkmates will include Richard Dean Anderson, the show's former above-the-title star and a well-known jokester.

“I'll come back with a lot of Rick stories,” Browder said.

And hopefully with all body parts unfrostbitten, or bear-bitten.

In Hawaii, Bounty Hunter Is Top Kahu (Guardian)

As the focus of A&E Network's top-rated reality show, Duane “Dog” Chapman has many fans. But he also has influential friends in his home state — in the legislature.

The Hawaii House of Representatives last week honored Chapman, his wife and the rest of the clan featured in Dog, the Bounty Hunter with an official resolution honoring them as “crime fighters who capture fugitives never using a firearm.” The official document is effusive in its praise of the hirsute hunter, calling him “arguably the most successful and charismatic bounty hunter in the world” and “part preacher and part father figure.”

The resolution notes that the Chapman family has been active in state charities including the island chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and wishes the family a “bountiful and continual stay in Hawaii.”

The latter language may be a reference to the ongoing jurisdictional dispute between the U.S. and Mexico over Chapman's activities there in 2003. The bounty hunter located convicted multiple rapist and Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, who was extradited to the U.S. to serve a 125-year prison sentence. Mexico still wants “Dog” to answer charges related to his detention of Luster, and the Hawaii State Legislature is trying to help there, too. Two bills are working their way through the chambers which would result in an official state request to Mexico President Felipe Calderon to drop the charges against the reality-TV star and his family.

'Lil' Cable Baron' to Fans: Call Comcast For Me

Southern Entertainment Television owner Harold Brown apparently isn't the kind to wait for a judge's decision in order to keep taking shots at Comcast.

The self-proclaimed “Lil' Cable Baron” placed an ad in The Washington Times March 8 and 10 touting how much Comcast subscribers want his company's bluegrass and gospel music networks, even as his company is embroiled in a carriage lawsuit with Comcast. The suit, filed almost a year ago in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, claims Comcast has failed to distribute SET as it must as part of a legacy carriage agreement in 1997 between SET — then SGM Television — and Satellite Services, which eventually transferred the agreement to Tele-Communications Inc. TCI sold out to AT&T, which later sold its cable holdings to Comcast.

The ad (top right) features the image of a young Harold Brown encouraging consumers to keep calling Comcast and Cox to get SET's networks on the air.

Brown sees no harm in running the ad while involved in litigation against the cable operator, saying he's just responding to viewer interest to watch the channel.

Cox and Comcast officials had no comment on the advertisement.

Brain to Meet Brawn On Campus at MIT

We've heard of colleges asking top business leaders to share their expertise with underclassmen, but usually it's CEOs, presidents and senior managers who metaphorically wrestle with weighty issues of commerce, not actual wrestlers.

But we understand the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will host members of the World Wrestling Entertainment family in one of its comparative media programs. Who better to lecture on the topic on the history and resurgence of televised wrestling?

Announcer Jim Ross is first up, providing a tutorial this week on how the sport moved from TV syndication to cable to pay-per-view, back to primetime television and into digital media.

In April, former WWE grappler Mick Foley will talk about his transition from wrestler to best-selling author of memoirs, novels and books for children; followed in April by Harvard-educated wrestler Chris Nowinski, who will discuss his book, Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis from the NFL to Youth Leagues.