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Bollywood Energy Makes IFC Marketing 'Heroic’

8/08/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

IFC turned New York into Mumbai on the Hudson last week, ahead of the Aug. 6 premiere of three-night original comedy mini-series Bollywood Hero, starring Chris Kattan, ex of Saturday Night Live (“Mango,” “Mr. Peepers”), and Pooja Kumar and Neha Dhupia, who’s a real Bollywood star.

Tuesday night, IFC had a screening at the Himalayan-art themed Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea, followed by a party attended by some of Kattan’s SNL buddies (Seth Meyers, Rachel Dratch) and actor Edward Norton, interrupted by the occasional Bollywood-style line dance.

Earlier, IFC choreographed “flash mobs” in Times Square, Penn Station and other New York locations. The spontaneous-looking dance event in Times Square generated a lively 5-minute music video that went straight to YouTube (and spread virally, including to Multichannel.com). Look for Kattan, Dhupia and Kumar on the fringe, posing as picture-taking tourists.

Jennifer Caserta, IFC’s general manager, said the marketing was in line with what Rainbow Media-owned IFC does for one or two tentpole events a year. “We are IFC, let’s be frank,” she said, disclosing no budgets. “We have to be lean and mean in our consumer marketing.”

The combination of Kattan, as “a name attached to a project,” and the Bollywood energy — “my god the colors, and the women, everything’s so gorgeous!” — made it seem bigger, though. The show certainly got more press than IFC usually has.

The next tentpole event comes in mid-October, with a six-part documentary on Monty Python. IFC’s bringing the five surviving cast members of the British comedy troupe to New York for a screening, and expect more viral events. “How could you not?” Caserta said. Also expect a big piece on Python in next month’s Vanity Fair — a double dose for Rainbow after the spread on AMC’s Mad Men in the current VF.

Puts pressure on to deliver audiences, though, right? “That’s good!” Caserta said. “It keeps it interesting. What’s next?”

Alan Dannenbaum Back In Comcast Cable Fold

In the ever-shifting world of Comcast’s programming departments — the cable unit that buys programming and the networks group that makes and sells it — Alan Dannenbaum (pictured) has gone back to cable.

Dannenbaum, who had moved to Jeff Shell’s Programming Group (networks) from Matt Bond’s content-acquisition group (cable) two years ago, is back in Bond’s fold.

He’ll lead cable contract negotiations with networks, as a senior VP, and join other Bond direct reports: content-acquisition senior vice presidents Jennifer Gaiski (a Multichannel News 2009 Wonder Woman) and Allan Singer and new-media SVP Matt Strauss. Dannenbaum also was named executive VP of satellite services.

Bond’s extra busy these days, overseeing Comcast’s initiative to extend cable subscribers’ access to programming, dubbed On Demand Online. Also, Gaiski’s headed out soon to have the baby she announced was on the way at the Wonder Women luncheon in March.

With Dannenbaum’s departure, Shell promoted Dana Zimmer and Dan Finnerty to EVP from SVP of network distribution and development for Comcast Networks. Comcast national networks include E!, Style, Golf Channel, Versus, G4, Sprout, on-demand channels and regional sports networks.

Though he goes from EVP to SVP, this is a promotion for Dannenbaum: Comcast has different executive titles at different divisions.

At Comcast HQ in Philadelphia, execs often move among cable and programming units when opportunities and needs arise. Marketer Eileen Diskin has gone from cable to programming and back to cable, for example, and Page Thompson left cable video services to run Golf Channel in 2007.

Cisco’s Ballard Says It’s Time to 'Take a Break’

Peggy Ballard, Cisco Systems’ senior director of worldwide service provider marketing and a member of Multichannel News’ 2009 Wonder Women class, is taking an early retirement on Sept. 24.

“I’ve had 30-plus years in technology. It’s time to take a little break ... and then find out what my 'encore career’ will be,” the longtime tech mentor told The Wire.

She expects to take several months off to spend time with family and friends and to travel. “I’m just going to play for a while,” she said. The Wire’s envious.

She started in 1977 at office gear maker Savin, and later worked for dial-up modem manufacturer Hayes Microcomputer Products. She joined Scientific Atlanta in 1995 and has stayed on through its 2005 acquisition by Cisco.

September