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What do John Malone and John Wayne Bobbitt have in common, besides an inti mate view of life on the cutting edge?

Both are featured prominently in Esquire's Dubious Achievement Awards of 1993, the latter as "man of the year," the former as "scariest white man of the year."

Those looking to gauge how deeply the hype surrounding interactive media has been absorbed into the mainstream consciousness need look no further than the January issue of Hearst Corp.'s Esquire.

As president-ceo of Tele-Communications Inc., Mr. Malone wields a lot of power, but few outside the media industry had heard of him a year ago. Now, Esquire apparently feels he is a celebrity as recognizable to readers as fellow dubious achievers Michael Jackson and Heidi Fleiss.

"The Magazine for Men" sprays the electronic superhighway with additional sniper fire.

In a humorous feature on American stereotypes for the '90s, "Seinfeld's" Jason Alexander appears as-among other things-a "voguish billionaire." The caption beneath the photo asks, "When you hear the phrase `software/hardware-integrated multimedia information highway,' do you get an uncontrollable urge to synergize?" and "How does the idea of an all-Calvin Klein network grab you?"

But wait, there's more. A few pages later, Esquire presents a page from a TV viewing guide dated Jan. 4, 2007, that covers-you guessed it-500 channels.

Featured on all channels at 8:00 p.m. is "John Malone: Days of Struggle, Days of Wealth." The description: "President Malone's fascinating life story .|.|. [including] his discovery of cable as a child growing up in an electronic log cottage in Illinois" and "the inside story of how the president heroically thwarted the craven assassination attempt and abortive coup organized by former vice president Barry Diller."

Channel 161 features a pro basketball game pitting the Bell Atlantic/TCI/Sony/Time Warner Lakers against the AT&T/GE/NYNEX/CBS Knicks. "And for $100 extra, you determine the outcome!"

Had enough, Mr. Malone? Not before Esquire columnist Stanley Bing has his say. In his monthly humor column, Mr. Bing writes of people who are unable to reinvent themselves and so "languish in a tar pit of their own limitations."

"Oh, sure, sometimes they can turn this overwhelming weakness into an asset and become enormous," he continues. "They are Caesar, Hitler, John Malone. But that's rare, thank God."

TCI subscribers shouldn't look for The Esquire Channel any time soon.M


While Heidi Fleiss graces the cover of Esquire, John Malone is lambasted inside

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