Cable’s portion of the Television Critics Assoc tour kicks off at an interesting time. Day 1 of the cable part of the tour comes Tues, the same day we learn the results of the AFTRA ratification vote. The Screen Actors Guild has decried the AFTRA contract as insufficient, so everyone’s waiting to see what SAG will do once the vote is announced. It’s noteworthy that former SAG pres Ed Asner is slated to appear on a Hallmark Channel panel Tues. Will TV critics and reporters pepper him with AFTRA questions or are they so tired of the contract uproar that they’ll stick to the script of Hallmark’s original movie "Generation Gap"? Regardless of the outcome, there doesn’t appear to be much concern that actors won’t turn out for the press tour, which runs July 8-22, with broadcasters following cable. The winter tour was canceled because of the writer’s strike. The tour marks the first formal presentation from Sundance Channel since Rainbow acquired the net for $496mln last month. Sundance’s presentation will continue in the same vein as it would have pre-Rainbow, though we expect hacks will want to know more about the Cablevision subsidiary’s plans for the channel. Then again, Elvis Costello is scheduled to be there for the net’s new musical series hosted by the legendary singer/songwriter, so maybe "Who is Alison?" will be the question of the day. Here’s some good news for those slaving away over the July 4th weekend to get ready for the tour. Based on RSVPs, organizers suspect that press attendance will be at or near record levels for the cable presentations. Pent up desire after the winter tour was canceled? Maybe. But more likely it’s the growing number of Web-based outlets. "We’re getting requests for credentials from outlets that probably didn’t exist last year," an organizer said. Not every cable net that takes part in TCA will present during the 4 jam-packed cable days. FX and NBCU usually present during cable days, but have opted this year to exhibit with their broadcast siblings. Showtime and Disney Cable Nets will also present with their broadcast sisters. Among 1st-time TCA presenters is Fox Reality, which is showing off the star of its new series, Ewan McGregor. McGregor and Charley Boorman star in "Long Way Down" (Aug 2), which chronicles the 2 friends’ motorcycle trip through distant lands to raise money for charity. Cfax, Cable360.net and the new CableFAX Content Business (www.cablefaxcontentbusiness.com) will keep you informed on all the TCA happenings.www.cablefaxcontentbusiness.com

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