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Through The Wire: Ops Prep for Possible Life After Spice

The ink isn't dry on the proposed Playboy TV purchaseof Spice Entertainment Companies, but already some operators are talking to adultprogrammers about a potential competing adult PPV service. Operators are worried thatPlayboy will discontinue the popular Spice and Adam & Eve adult services, as well asthe ultra naughty Spice Hot -- not to mention the 80 to 90 percent splits that Playboydoes not offer. As one top 10 MSO operator put it, "we want to be prepared tomaintain our revenues from the adult business; if Playboy doesn't offer it to us,we'll find someone who will."

It looks like pay-per-view may receive the full andunedited version of Warner Bros.' controversial Devil's Advocate filmafter all. Operators were expecting Warner Bros. to edit out sexual scenes featuring thefamous Washington D.C.-based "Ex Nihilo" sculpture from the movie as part of alawsuit settlement brought against the studio by the sculptor Frederick Hart and EpiscopalNational Cathedral. However, the Wire has learned that essentially there will be nochange to the movie, pending the outcome of the legal settlement with the artist. Atworse, there will either be a Warner Bros. disclaimer about the scene prior to the film ora blurring out of the sculpture during the scene.

Don't quit your night job, Roy ... Light heavyweightchampion Roy Jones hasn't boxed on PPV since last summer, but that doesn't meanthat he's shying away from the camera. Instead of showcasing his lightning-quickboxing skills for PPV fans, Jones has instead been flashing his acting prowess.Jones recently appeared on the UPN series The Sentinel as a heavyweight boxer whoeventually gets rubbed out by his adversaries. Ironically, the 175-pound Jones pulled outof a proposed spring fight against former heavyweight champ James "Buster"Douglas for fear of getting seriously hurt or "rubbed out" in the ring. But atleast one cable operator who saw Jones' acting debut said the fighter should kill anythoughts of a budding acting career and stick to boxing.

In an effort to help inner city students in the Los Angelesarea with their college expenses, The National Association for Minorities inCommunications' Southern California chapter will award two $10,000 scholarships tostudents from Crenshaw High School. The scholarships will be presented in April duringthe chapter's annual Vision Awards, which recognizes excellence in minority-orientedcable programming.

USSB subscribers got more than they bargained for duringthe first few minutes of the satellite distributor's Feb. 21 PPV boxing card. Thecompany put the first 10 minutes of its four-fight program in the clear for its 3.3million subscribers as a preview to entice subscribers to buy the $19.95 event.. Usuallyslated as the weakest fight on the card, this initial bout featured a furious first roundbattle between Tom "Boom Boom" Johnson and Santos Rebolledo -- with anaggressive start by Rebolledo,the eventual winner. That apparently energized late buys,according to sources, although it was unclear exactly how many of the company's morethan 1,000 buys came after the preview. One USSB executive, however, said the fast start"certainly didn't hurt" its performance.

By R. Thomas Umstead, from bureau reports.