L.A.’s NFL’s TV week 12: Titans-Jets have the AFC key battle (sorry Colts-Chargers)

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Steve Mariucci, the NFL Network analyst and former San Francisco and Detroit head coach, said it about the upcoming New York Jets-Tennessee Titans contest: “If I’m (Jets coach) Eric Mangini, I am going to have Brett Favre spread the ball around because the Titans don’t have a weak link. Leon Washington is going to have to come up big on special teams. The Jets have to get out in front early and make Kerry Collins continue to throw the football.”

Take it for what it’s worth, as the still undefeated Titans — we’re not sure about their record, we’ll have to have someone show us a cue card to remind us — run into the 7-3 Jets in what looks like the two best AFC squads hooking up. The other 7-3 AFC team, Pittsburgh, ties its Thursday up with Cincinnati.

THURSDAY:

==5 p.m., NFL Network: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (with Bob Papa and Cris Collinsworth)

SUNDAY:

==10 a.m., Channel 11: San Francisco at Dallas (with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver) Other Fox choices: Minnesota-Jacksonville (with just retired John Lynch working as an analyst with Chris Rose), Philadelphia-Baltimore, Tampa Bay-Detroit and Chicago-St. Louis.

==10 a.m., Channel 2: N.Y. Jets at Tennessee (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms). CBS is passing on Buffalo-Kansas City, New England-Miami and Houston-Cleveland.

==1 p.m., Channel 11: N.Y. Giants at Arizona (with Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa). Fox also had Carolina-Atlanta and Washington-Seattle to pick from. CBS has Oakland-Denver (with Dick Enberg and Randy Cross) in this slot.

==5:15 p.m., Channel 4: Indianapolis at San Diego (with Al Michaels, John Madden and Andrea Kremer)

MONDAY:

==5:30 p.m., ESPN: Green Bay at New Orleans (with Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser and Ron Jaworski)

Bye week: Nobody.

Looking ahead:

THURSDAY, NOV. 27 — THANKSGIVING:

==9:30 a.m., Channel 2: Tennessee at Detroit
==1:30 p.m., Channel 11: Seattle at Dallas
==5 p.m., NFL Network: Arizona at Philadelphia

Also:
The Week 13 schedule past Thursday was finalized, with NBC keeping the Chicago-Minnesota game as schedule. Denver-N.Y. Jets moves from an early window to late window for CBS.

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BCS: Fox bails out, ESPN waiting to finish it off

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Los Angeles-based Fox released a statement today explaining that it wasn’t going to renew its contract to carry the Bowl Championship Series after its deal runs out after 2010.

All that’s left is for the ESPN celebration party, because Disney has not only outbid (and out-Foxed) the process, but will move everything — including the Rose Bowl — to its cable channel from 2011 to 2014.

After which time, Barack Obama’s plan to start a playoff system can begin.

“Even with today’s vast economic uncertainties, Fox Sports made a very competitive bid to keep broadcasting BCS games free to every home in America, one that included a substantial rights fee increase, and certainly as much as any over-the-air network could responsibly risk,” the network said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the University presidents and BCS commissioners were not satisfied and they’ve decided to take their jewel events to pay television. We wish everyone well.”

ESPN is “pay television”? Never thought of it that way…. But it seems to be once you consider that you pay a cable bill, and it’s included. Which is what’ll happen early next year when all analog TV disappears.

The Wall Street Journal story (linked here) reports that Fox’s bid for $400 million for a four-year extension was all it could afford. ESPN/Disney bid $500 milllion.

And why it’s not completely agreed upon yet, this deal may result in the Rose Bowl, which is excluded from the BCS package because it has an exclusive deal with ABC, moving from over-the-air to ESPN as well, giving the cable network the BCS championship, as well as the Fiesta, Orange, Sugar and Rose bowls staggered over a week’s time, starting on New Year’s Day, 2011.

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The media learning curve: Nov. 8-14

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A stealth Warren Sapp, who belongs now to the NFL Network and Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,” made it to the final four of ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” (linked here), after the only other athlete left, Olympic sprinter Maurice Greene, was finally voted off, scoring 48 out of 60 from judges for his quickstep (kinda ironic, eh?) and paso doble routines Monday.

Sapp isn’t bitching complaining that he’s still on the show. Seems like it’s coming down to Brooke Burke against Lance Bass, so Big Ol’ Sapp may have only a week or two left.

But Sapp may have an apology in order soon as well, calling ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson a “bitch” during this week’s “Inside the NFL” show on Showtime (more on that at this link).

But that’s not all we learned this week:

== Week 11 of the NFL on TV for L.A. viewers (linked here) takes San Diego at Pittsburgh ahead of undefeated Tennessee playing Jacksonville. And Springsteen will light up the halftime show for NBC’s Dallas-Washington game (linked here)

== Week 12 of college football on TV for L.A. viewers (linked here) may exclude you finding the USC-Stanford game (it’s on Versus, 4 p.m.), but there’s always Oregon State-Cal on Channel 7 at 12:30 p.m. (and really nothing much on ABC at 5 p.m.)

== ESPN has more ways to overexpose Brian Dennehy Bob Knight (linked here)

== More on Kenny Mayne’s new web series “Mayne Street” (linked here), with Episode 2 that came out today (linked here).
The network says the first episode had nearly 2.5 million viewings in the first 48 hours, making it the site’s most viewed single video in the last six months. “The great start for ‘Mayne Street’ illustrates the huge opportunity that exists for creative content at ESPN, not just on TV but on any platform,” said Keith Clinkscales, senior vice president, content development and enterprises, ESPN.

== If Fox can’t handle the freight for the BCS bowl games, Disney will take it, and put ‘em all on cable (linked here).

== Why Turner is done going all British in the golf world (linked here), and now why ESPN has it (linked here).

== HBO’s documentary “Driving Dirty: Thundercars of Indiana” has some characters that could spawn a mini-series (linked here).

== Don’t let the Pumphrey brothers into your house, unless you’re ready for an add-on (linked here).

==NASCAR would appreciate it if its Chase races that started on network TV didn’t finish up on cable, especially if it’s for a monkey scractching its butt (linked here).

== Bob Smiley’s new book on Tiger Woods is out, and he’d like you to read it (or buy it for Christmas) (linked here).

==And, of course, another method for Pete Arbogast to sabotage his own career as a USC basketball play-by-play guy (linked here).

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Give Arbogast enough rope …

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And he’ll be sure hang himself out to dry. This time, when it comes to filling in for Rory Markas on USC basketball games.

Earlier this week, USC announced officially (linked here) that while Markas recovers at home from blood clot surgery on his brain, Steve Physioc would replace him on play-by-play, starting with Saturday’s home encounter with UC Irvine at Galen Center. There wasn’t any way Pete Arbogast could have done that game — he’s with the USC football team at Stanford on Saturday.

But when Arbogast heard that he’d only do hoop games when it Physioc had a conflict, we heard from several sources that he went to complain directly to USC athletic director Mike Garrett.

The response from Garrett: Fine, then you’ll do no basketball games.

Since that happened, a source at 710-AM said that Isaac Lowenkron, a USC grad who has done play-by-play on the AFL Avengers, has been recruited to fill in for Physioc. Even though Lowenkron is better known for his work at rival sports-station KLAC-AM (570), where he has called Pac-10 conference tournament games in the past.

On his always entertaing blog posting this morning buried in the “publisher’s forum” of WeAreSc.com (linked here), Arbogast makes a passing reference to “easy come, easy go” on replacing Markas, as it “turns out someone else is gong (sic) to do” those hoop games.

Apparently, it was an easy decision for Garrett to gong Arbogast.

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‘Mayne Street’ Episode 2: F*** product placement

Yes, you could just as easily go to ESPN.com and find this. We’ve saved you one extra click.

The Tuesday-Friday episode run of this web-exclusive sit-com, a cross between “The Office” and a “This is SportsCenter” commercial, has about a dozen episodes left after this, according to Ron Wechsler, ESPN vice president of series content and development, who chatted this project up with us the other day.

All of ‘em have been shot, so if there’s some cool news angle that could be worked in, it’ll have to wait for the second season. If there is one.

“If people clamor for a second flight, we’ll be happy to oblige,” said Wechsler.

What may save this concept from collapsing under its own digital weight is that it comes in small bursts — not a 30-minute show that is being pitched for TV. Not yet anyway.

“For whatever reasons, Kenny has mastered this particular form of short-form content,” said Wechsler. “If we do it fo rthe Web, once we got to five minutes, which this generation of people are used to watching, if we go longer, then it’s ‘Gone With the Wind.’”

Which means your attention span probably ran out on this item two paragraphs ago.

Editor’s note: ESPN puts a disclaimer on this episode, saying it “contains some mature languages and references.” We’ll blow its cover. There’s a mention of pornography (by Mayne) and one of “drinking sloppy” (by the guy trying to get him to cross the line and mention a local roast beef sandwich place in one of his “news” stories). We were offended that there wasn’t more adult language included.

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The media learning curve: More on ‘Rinkside,’ ManRam, Hazel Mae, MMA and closeted fiction

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We got more than just cranky Kings and Ducks fans complaining about “Rinkside View” (today’s column linked here). We got Jim Fox and Bob Miller also suggesting ways it can be improved (linked here).

And as a matter of background: We started inquiring about “Rinkside View” on Tuesday and were basically told that execs at FSN weren’t going to be available to talk. The plan was to write about it anyway. Suddenly, executive producer Tom Feuer and GM Steve Simpson became available, not just to the Daily News, but also the L.A. Times and Orange County Register. And the New York Times: We have Stu Hackel, a former VP of broadcasting for the NHL who now blogs on the sport for the New York Times, also checking in with the FSN West leadership to discover what all the fuss has been about (linked here).
The damage-control train rolls on…

And spinning forward, we know that:

== ESPN’s Sunday Outside the Lines (6 a.m., replayed at 9 a.m. on ESPNEWS) looks at Manny Ramirez’ upcoming free agency, especially at how his final days in Boston played out before he was traded to the Dodgers. Pedro Gomez reports. A quote from Red Sox shortstop Alex Cora: “Every question was about Manny Ramirez. We lost a game — it was ‘Why Manny didn’t run a ball out?’ We win a game – ‘Is Manny going to show up tomorrow and play?’ So it got to the point that, I don’t want to say it got to us, but it was this dark cloud over the team.”

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Coming Friday: This not-so-rinky-dink ‘Rinkside’ flap

Video above is from the FSN Kings-Blues “Rinkside” telecast from last Saturday at Staples Center

They call it “Rinkside View.” You’ve called it “Stinkside View.” That’s when you’re being nice.

The Fox Sports Net’s L.A. offices have heard your constructive criticism astute suggestions, and in Friday’s media column, they’ll explain some changes to their approach, starting with Sunday’s Kings-Ducks telecast on FSN Prime.

Then they expect to hear more feedback as to how it can work spinning forward.

We’d assumed that “Rinkside” this season would be done in the way it has been in the past — as an alternative feed to the “traditional” NHL telecast. For next Tuesday’s Lakers-Chicago Bulls telecast, for example, FSN West will carry the tradition telecast with Joel Meyers and Stu Lantz, while FSN Prime will do the “Courtside View” coverage — low camera angles, boom mikes in crazy places, no broadcasters, and Bill Macdonald running all over the place behind the scenes.

That’s a nice compromise. But it’s not practical, especially financially, on the hockey side of the ledger.

Southern California hockey fans who’ve already seen this “Rinkside View” hybrid version for the last month complain most about how it makes them dizzy, restricts seeing plays develop and, some aren’t willing to watch — even boycott. A few have resorted to calling Fox Sports chief David Hill to lodge protests.

Oh, and they’ve filled our comments slots on the Kings blog in remarkable numbers. The passion is evident. A few even more off the deep end after FSN executive producer Tom Feuer offered his “let them eat cake” edict in the OC Register this week. Have to say, that didn’t go over too well. (see link here). Even if this seems to be the future of NHL telecasts.

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Bring your finest water traps to ESPN’s cable world, you silly Brits

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A day after Turner said it was bailing out on the British Open (linked here), ESPN and The R&A, the organizer of what’s called officially The Open Championship, announced they’d dive in together on an eight-year deal to do all four rounds live on the cable channel starting in 2010.

Jean Van de Velde immediately began new plans of figuring out a way to get out of the moat he still finds himself stuck in.

ABC will still have an extensive same-day weekend highlights package for the third- and final rounds for those who haven’t figured out how cable works yet.

ESPN will televise 34 live hours live over four days and produce six hours of encore highlights for ABC, which continues the network’s relationship with the event past the 50-year mark.

“It is all important to The R&A that we preserve the traditions of The Open Championship while at the same time ensuring that golf fans are able to enjoy modern state-of-the-art coverage of the event,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A. “We know just how much ESPN respects The Open’s heritage and we are very excited by their many innovative plans to cover the Championship across the whole media spectrum, both in the United States and internationally. We look forward to a long and productive relationship.”

Alastair Johnston, IMG Vice Chairman, who led the negotiating team representing The R&A said: “We had to consider not only the financial terms but The R&A’s overall mission to promote and develop the game of golf to an evolving global audience.”

The deal also includes exclusive U.S. coverage of all rounds of the Senior Open Championship and coverage of the next two Walker Cups when contested in the United Kingdom (2011 and 2015).

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Documenting Jewish hoops

Ossie Schectman, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, made the first basket for the New York Knickerbockers in on Nov. 1, 1946, in the first game of the fledgling Basketball Association of America, against the Toronto Huskies.

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Three years later, the league became the NBA.

Schectman’s shot is considered the first NBA points.

Who knew?

In the documentary, “The First Basket,” (official movie link here) more little-known history of the Jews and basketball come to light. The hour-and-a-half flick directed by David Vyorst and narrated by Peter Riegert opens in Southern California on Friday at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills, the Town Center in Encino and the Fallbrook 7 in West Hills.

After the game of basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Mass., the game spread through New York settlement houses and proved a perfect fit for urban Jewish kids. By the 1920s, basketball had become a staple of life in American Jewish communities, and many of the top teams grew out of these neighborhoods.

“The First Basket” uncovers the influence that these Jewish pioneers had on the evolution of basketball as it grew from a game played with ash cans on tenement steps.

Red Holzman, Dolph Schayes, Red Sarachek, Barney Sedran, Eddie Gottleib, Abe Saperstein, Ralph Kaplowitz, Sammy Kaplan and many more are featured.

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Shut out the lights, NBC, the Boss is coming

Hey now mama don’t shut out the light
Don’t you shut out the light
Don’t you shut out the light
Don’t you shut out the light
Don’t you shut out the light

– From “Shut Out the Light,” by Bruce Springsteen

It’s either that, or “Blinded By The Light.”

Whatever works for NBC.

On a night when Springsteen premieres a new song, “Workin’ on a Dream,” which will be used to a package of highlights during halftime of Sunday’s Dallas-Washington NFL game, the network will also do its part about conserving energy by turning the lights out in the studio again.

The game will launch the second “Green Week” by NBC (owned by General Electric), and during the NBC NFL pregame show, commentators Bob Costas, Chris Collinsworth, Dan Patrick, Jerome Bettis and Tiki Barber “will discuss how they each personally green their own routines,” according to the network press release.

Meanwhile, “Workin’ on a Dream” will be on Springsteen’s next album, released in late January. He played it acoustically during a Barack Obama rally in Columbus, Ohio. Springsteen will also, of course, perform at halftime of Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 1.

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