The Date: March 6, 2007
The Venue: The Marriott Marquis in Times Square, New York
The Host: Dan Rather
The Crowd: A who's who of cable sales and programming execs across the board, ranging from Lifetime to ESPN to BET.
The Food: After a 90-minute reception with an open bar, guests were seated at their respective tables with their bottles of red and white wine to share. A mixed-green salad with what appeared to be hummus kicked off the meal, followed by grilled fish and a small portion of prime rib, topped off with a decadent helping of apple pie and a dessert tray with sugar-coated confections small enough to be consumed in multiples of four before the guilt kicked in.
There's nothing like freeloading for a good cause. At first, we were a bit apprehensive of making the rounds of the benefit circuit, as it might contradict our whole raison d'etre at these industry events. But Cable Positive's dinner and reception honoring Time Warner Cable's Glenn Britt was so full of gregarious, high-spirited people we saw no harm in loading up on free wine and sugar-coated jellies in the name of HIV/AIDS awareness.
Freeloader sat with our friends at Lifetime, who apparently are in good standing with the folks at Cable Positive -- our table gave us front-and-center access to the podium that would soon be graced by host Dan Rather. We had to admit it was a bit weird to hear Rather introduced as a global correspondent for HDNet following his less-than-ceremonious departure from CBS, however. But Freeloader has never been one to second-guess Les Moonves' decisions.
Time Warner's Glenn Britt proved to be a gracious recipient of Cable Positive's nifty little crystal prism of an award -- think the American Music Awards statue as designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. His company's continued support of the Cable Positive VOD network even humbled Rather, who introduced Time Warner Cable NY and news channel NY1's touching clip reel "25 Stories for 25 Years of the AIDS Epidemic."
Yet the event was a fairly light affair given the serious topics -- live dinner music from New Orleans jazz band Trombone Shorty was met with snickers at its youthful lineup and quips like "They're 12!" and "Where's the trombone player?" But since the cable industry has long been one of the HIV/AIDS cause's biggest supporters -- raising $18 million since 1992 and devoting more than $1 billion in air time -- we saw no shame in helping polish off an extra glass of chardonnay for a table that must've been 10 times the cost of our outfit.