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Bake Sale? Lottery? Kittens? Porn!

Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He can be reached at (714) 966-7821 or at dana.parsons@latimes.com. An archive of his recent columns is at www.latimes.com/parsons.

Baffled by Adelphia’s sudden flip-flop in deciding not to make hard-core porn available to its cable TV subscribers? You’re not alone.

Surely, you’re saying, the company must have known that giving the green light to TV’s red-light district would stir up a ruckus. And if the company was going to buckle in the face of protest, why say yes in the first place?

Perplexing ... until you realize that a powerful momentum builds when corporate types get together. The original brainstorming session probably went something like this:

Vice President for Revenue: All right, people, listen up. I’ve got a crashing headache, so let’s make this meeting a quick one. We’re looking for some new revenue streams, and everything’s on the table.

First Minion: How about a bake sale and we give away a free DVD recorder for the best product?

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VP: I like that. Cookies, cakes, pies. The whole pastry family, right?

First Minion: That’s how I see it.

Second Minion: Sounds like something a middle-school soccer team would do.

VP: Please, no sarcasm.

Third Minion: We could run our own lottery. Sell tickets for $5 and, every month, 10 subscribers get the month free.

VP: I’m not comfortable endorsing gambling. It’s probably not even legal for us to run something like that.

First Minion: I don’t want to give up on the bake sale. Besides DVDs, how about if we also gave away kittens?

Third Minion: That’s not what our company is about.

First Minion: Oh, but we should run a lottery?

VP: Come on, people. Let’s stay focused.

Fourth Minion: How about hard-core porn programming?

VP (spitting a mouthful of soda across the table): You mean where people -- ?

Fourth Minion: Exactly.

VP: And where there’s actual -- ?

Fourth Minion: Yep. In color.

VP: Not simulated?

Fourth Minion: The real deal.

VP: Wow. Would that fly? Would the “Shrek 2" crowd go for that?

Second Minion: Are you kidding? They’d see it as a double feature. Watch Shrek with the kids, send them to bed, and then --.

VP: Interesting concept. Bring back the double bill, eh? But won’t some people complain that we’re offering it? You know, the morals police?

Third Minion: How could they? It’s kid-proof, because ordering it means it’d show up on the monthly bill. Adults watch it when there are no children around. When the show is over, it’s gone. Poof. No trace. It never existed. It’s adult entertainment that no kid can have access to. When you think about it, it’s safer than the parents getting one from the video store.

VP: So we’d actually be providing a service to our customers.

Third Minion: Yes, they’d thank us for it. Profusely.

VP: And you’re saying people actually buy this stuff?

Fourth Minion (exchanging nervous glances with other minions): Uh, yeah, they seem to be interested in it. Who knows why. They just do.

VP: And this would help our customers, right? In a way, it’d be like giving them PBS?

Second Minion: Correct. But without the pledge drives.

VP: And they pay for every program they order?

Second Minion: Big time. We could go 10 bucks a shot.

VP: Hmm. Downside?

Third Minion: Zero. It’s win-win. Customers like it. People who don’t like it will never see it. And kids are a non-factor.

VP: So, people would really like us if we offered it?

Second Minion: More than you can imagine.

VP: I mean, we’d have to clean up the parking lot after a bake sale, right?

Third Minion: It’d be a mess. Plates, cups, the whole thing.

VP: Triple X it is. You people are the best in the business. We can always try the bake sale next year.


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