Five years ago Skip Harris got a chance to do something he always wanted to do: make a difference. As an executive at Falcon Cable when it was sold to Charter, he realized a small windfall that allowed him to take some time off before immediately jumping into another cable gig. It also allowed him and his wife Victoria to volunteer at a charity and give a little something back. Victoria took the lead in finding a charity and her only guideline was that she wanted it to help animals. "My first impulse was to look at a dog rescue center, but then I realized that I’d be 80 years old and my house would be overrun with dogs." But then Victoria discovered the California Wildlife Center, a Malibu-based organization that nurses wounded and orphaned wildlife back to health before, hopefully, releasing the animals back into the wild. It has since become a passion. When I caught up with them just over a week ago, Skip was preparing to leave for the CTAM Summit, while Victoria was busy organizing the Wildlife Center’s annual fundraiser, "The Wild Brunch." Much like their successful cable careers (Skip worked on the MSO side of the business, while Victoria was a content girl, schlepping product for the International Channel, Starz/Encore, Warner Amex Satellite and the Olympics TripleCast), together they have worked their way up the Wildlife Center’s ranks. Each started out as volunteers, became board members, and for a brief time Victoria actually ran the place. And while Skip’s new turn as head of his own consulting firm has cut into his time and forced him to resign from the board, Victoria remains a passionate full-time advocate. And through their mutual participation the center has become sort of a second home for like-minded cable volunteers, including Sandy Perron, whose husband Lee runs the Adelphia system in L.A., and Lifetime’s Roxanna Klimovich. Victoria singled out the folks at Charter for being particularly supportive, saying they had produced and run numerous PSAs for the center. She also detailed how, when launching NatGeo, Charter put together an event that included kids from the local Boys and Girls Club, and allowed the system to turn launch support dollars into a donation to the center. And Skip, while acknowledging the support the center has received from all the operators in Southern California, added, "It was a great event and remarkably generous of both National Geographic and Charter." As for the importance of wildlife preservation in Southern California, Victoria told me that many animals are at the crisis state, including the mountain lion, of which only two adult animals remain. (And when I called her about the really bad publicity those two remaining cougars got in the opening scene of this week’s Six Feet Under, she laughed. "You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning or getting married after forty than you do of getting killed by a mountain lion in Southern California.") Before we hung up, Skip told me he wanted to make a point to thank all the networks and MSOs that had made donations for silent auction portion of this Sunday’s annual "Wild Brunch." But as he spoke he started laughing. He told me it reminded him of something HBO told him a few years ago when he asked them to make a donation. "’It’s a bit of a stretch,’ they told us, ‘but we’ll do it. After all, when you’re dealing with cable operators it can sometimes be like dealing with wildlife.’"

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