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Comcast Works Through Its Gridiron Envy

February 21, 2005 12:00 AM

Football is played mostly outdoors, right? Then it must make sense to put it on the Outdoor Life Network, right? That is what Comcast is contemplating, according to an industry source. Comcast, which owns OLN, wants to get into the game by securing either the new NFL package of eight games on Thursday and Saturday or one of two Sunday night packages, both currently held by Disney/ABC's ESPN. One Comcast plan is to put the games on OLN, now best known as the home of bike racing, bull riding and fishing. Sources said Comcast has crunched ESPN's advertising numbers, but with just 62 million subscribers, OLN will have to get more subscribers and up its license fee. To do that, they said, Comcast is considering offering equity stakes in the network to other multiple system operators that otherwise might complain about another high-priced sports network. Comcast and OLN officials declined to comment. A Time Warner Cable spokesperson said, "We are aware of Comcast's desire to get the NFL games."

--JON LAFAYETTE



Boxed in With No Toilet Breaks

Las Vegas magician Nathan Burton is hungry enough for the big time to starve. Beginning March 9, Mr. Burton, 31, will be sealed inside a narrow Plexiglas box. For one week he will not eat or drink (except for some energy drinks, if he can find the right sponsor). The 9-foot-long, 61/2-foot-high, 3-foot-deep box won't have plumbing, but Mr. Burton will have the company of seven showgirls in full regalia who will appear on rotation in four-hour shifts. (They have to starve only enough to fit into the costumes.) The box will be suspended in front of the V Theatre at Aladdin's Desert Passage, where Mr. Burton performs. Tourists can watch and for a $5 fee have their picture taken (proceeds go to tsunami relief). It's all an illusion, right? "I am a magician," Mr. Burton said last week, "but there's no magic to this box. [Magician] David Blaine did 44 days in a box [in London], with no food or water; I'm just doing seven. But I'm doing it Las Vegas style." Mr. Burton is hoping Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel or some other TV host will carry his finale live, but there is no deal so far. If he seems familiar, the 31-year-old Mr. Burton is a contestant on E!'s "The Entertainer," the show on which singer Wayne Newton selects the next big Vegas star for a gig and a million-dollar prize. Mr. Newton must see magic in Mr. Burton. He has already signed him to a personal management contract. -- ALEX BEN BLOCK



Guitar Wedding

When George Lopez decided his TV alter ego was going to renew his vows on the air, he wanted a kick-ass band to play at the wedding ceremony. He found it in Austin, Texas, while on location shooting a feature. His film director, Robert Rodriguez, turned Mr. Lopez on to the music of the Austin-based Chicano band Del Castillo, which sings in Spanish and plays high-energy music, mixing old-school Gitano with nuevo flamenco. Brothers Rick and Mark Del Castillo, who play dual leads on classical guitar, and the rest of the group, made such an impression that Mr. Lopez invited Del Castillo and Mr. Rodriguez to appear on his show (airing Feb. 22). "These boys are on their way," said Mr. Lopez, who plays guitar himself. "I expect them to really take off this year. I hope they don't forget me."

--CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA



Buster Door Down

A "wascally wabbit" looking for sponsorship? Not Bugs Bunny in this case but that notorious carrot muncher Buster Baxter, the star of PBS's kids show "Postcards From Buster." Buster ignited a firestorm in recent weeks by visiting some lesbian moms in Vermont. PBS chose this moment to announce that Sponsorship Group for Public Television and producer WGBH-TV in Boston are offering a "unique national sponsorship opportunity" combining "Buster" with another PBS kids show, "Arthur." "We recognize that Buster has received a considerable amount of press attention recently," said Suzanne Zellner, group director of national program sales and marketing for SGPTV, in an understatement. "So now is the perfect time to sponsor 'Postcards from Buster' and take advantage of his visibility in the marketplace." One PBS insider said the network has no idea whether all the controversy over Buster will help or hinder the selling of sponsorships.

--JOHN MOTAVALLI