There were two surprises at MTV: Music Television's Video Music Awards bash Thursday. One was when Michael Jackson bounded up on stage. He grabbed a spare
"moon man" statuette and thanked MTV for declaring him "Artist of the
Millennium." But he wasn't. Although MTV is contractually obligated to refer to
Jacko as "The King of Pop," Britany Spears had called Jackson up only to wish
him a happy birthday.
The other surprise came during a commercial break when an announcement was
made thanking Peter Barton, "who has supported us since the beginning." The kids
had no idea who Barton was, but the cable VIPs up in the balcony knew.
Barton, a former senior executive of Liberty Media Corp. and cable operator
Tele-Communications Inc., is suffering from cancer, and few thought he was well
enough to travel. Barton has told friends he is not doing well. Once a
championship skier, he looked tremendously frail but smiled as cable executives
went up to greet him.
MTV Networks president Mark Rosenthal arranged Barton's trip, and Starz Encore Group LLC
chairman John Sie helped by supplying a private jet to take Barton and his
family from Denver to New York for the show. Barton, who is being inducted into
the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in November, told the reporter writing
his HOF profile that he was in a rock band in college: "In my heart and soul,
I'm a musician."