Media, Politics, Microsoft


Amid the fiscal meltdown at KCTS-TV last year, new CEO Bill Mohler promised that the public station would end its attempt to be a flashy national producer and work more on local programming. The station is starting to make good on that promise with a 10-week series of local documentaries, airing Thursday nights at 8 and beginning Sept. 23. With works culled from four dozen submissions, the intriguing series kicks off with a film about struggling small farmers in Eastern Washington. Also planned are documentaries on local Sephardic Jews, the Lost Boys and Girls of the Sudan who settled here, and the 1999 World Trade Organization brouhaha in Seattle. Because KCTS is licensing films already made, some of which have played at various festivals, the series is an inexpensive way of fulfilling the local commitment. At this point, KCTS is not commissioning new work. In fact, the station wasn't sure it had the money to pull this series off. Station general manager Randy Brinson says he would like to make the series an ongoing project, to partner with filmmakers to get money for new work. NINA SHAPIRO


In his TV campaign commercial as Democratic candidate for state attorney general, Mark Sidran does a takeoff on the popular Jeopardy! game show. As a faux Alex Trebek, Sidran queries three contestants named Jeff, Marilyn, and Gary. "Who will defend our right to privacy?" he asks Marilyn, for example. "Mark Sidran," she answers, apparently correctly. Sidran then asks Gary, "Who's endorsed by leading Democrats like Gov. Locke?" And Gary answers, "Mark Sidran. Of course." The grinning contestant is — surprise — Gov. Gary Locke. He and Sidran seem quite amused at their little put-on. And it's hard not to laugh — especially if you're a Jeopardy! purist. First, nobody rings in with bells, for chrissakes. And most sacrilegious, Sidran has it all backward. It's not Q&A. It's A&Q. Like so. Answer: "He's the guy who didn't know Jeopardy! is answers as questions, and questions as answers." Question: "Who is that boob Mark Sidran?" RICK ANDERSON


We appreciate the restraint Microsoft has shown, not sucking up to Republicans at the convention this week. That sort of behavior should be limited to big Wall Street firms. The head Softies did, however, throw a big retirement bash at Le Cirque for U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Microsoft, reports The Seattle Times, and the company's financial head, John Connors, said the congresswoman has been such a legislative inspiration that his daughter is modeling her life after Dunn. Aside from that, "our involvement is minimal," a company spokesperson said of the convention. That might even be true. But campaign contributions are another story. There are still two months to go, but of the $857,000 Microsoft's political action committee has donated to federal races so far this year, 53 percent went to Republicans. In 2002, the Redmond software giant gave the GOP $1.8 million in soft money alone. When the chips were counted after the 1999 2000 election cycle, according to the Center for Public Integrity, Microsoft had given $8.8 million to Republicans. (The Dems got a measly $3.9 million during the same period.) It wouldn't be surprising to see Microsoft equal that this time. RICK ANDERSON

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