More Q-and-A with Jerry Bruckheimer

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www.wetandwild.com
Jerry Bruckheimer, right, and Jake Gyllenhaal, left, who stars in Bruckheimer’s new movie “Prince of Persia,” talk with Vince Vaughn during a Kings-Sharks game at Staples Center last January.

The man known around Hollywood as “Mr. Blockbuster” and in constant playoff beard mode is in Miami this weekend instead of L.A., so Jerry Bruckheimer says he won’t be in his usual Staples Center seats to see Game 6 of the Kings-Canucks Stanley Cup playoff series.

Expanding on today’s Q-and-A (linked here):

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Q: We’ve also seen you at USC football games … how are hockey fans different from any other sport?

Bruckheimer: It’s a matter of growing up with it and appreciating it for what it is The hot bed is still Canada, and we kind of took that over with New York, Detroit and Boston, and now it’s down south in L.A., on its way back. I am a Laker fan, but I’m a bigger hockey fan than basketball fan. But I do enjoy a lot of different sports.

Q: One of the ways you stay close to hockey is this annual “Bad Boys of Hockey” tournament we’ve heard about each year in Las Vegas (linked here). We’ve heard that Tom Cruise and Keifer Sutherland are involved. That’s still on for this year?

Bruckheimer: Yup, still doing that, and we get to play on Sundays once and awhile over at Toyota Center (in El Segundo, where the Kings train).

Q: And you still own a farm in Kentucky that has its own ice rink?

Bruckheimer: Yes, it’s a small barn and we have people over with their friends. We’ve found some really good little players in Kentucky to come over and play with us.

Q: And what position do you play?

Bruckheimer: Anything going forward. I can’t go backward. And not goalie. I don’t like having things fired at me.

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L.A.’s Christmas Bowl backer breaks his silence … and we’re still not sure how it could have made it on the 2010 calendar

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“Regarding your blog on the Christmas Bowl,” Derek Dearwater wrote in an email to us today, “I’ll take responsibility for the effort.”

Dearwater said he just came back from the NCAA’s bowl meetings in Arizona and “realized there would be a question or two regarding our game, since we kept our developments relatively quiet. What surprised me was that two of the first three posts I read (on our blog) were derogatory.”

That’s a matter of semantics. We choose to think we’re skeptical. Not cynical. Can’t be cynical about the spirit of Christmas.

“While this is unfortunate,” he continued, “it’s no surprise, as the general public wasn’t aware of the efforts and content associated with our bowl game.”

Kinda tough to get people to back you on an idea when the first they hear of it is from an NCAA press release saying they’ve been denied.

“I’m confident that the majority of the general public would approve of our game, if they understood more about it; therefore, I’ll provide you with a presentation of our concept.

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A link that Dearwater sent explains:

== It’s supposed to pit the Pac-10 No. 7 team — of a MAC No. 3, 4 or 5 squad, if the Pac-10 doesn’t have any more bowl-eligible squads — against the WAC’s No. 2 team.

== It is planned for the Coliseum — the facility put the date on hold Dec. 21-24 through 2013.

== Their choice was Dec. 27, 2010 — a Monday, 2 p.m. contest. Choice No. 2 was Christmas Eve, 3:30 p.m.

== The Children’s Miracle Network is the chief benefactor. The bowl’s tagline:
“Creating Christmas Miracles for Children in Need”

== L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa OK’d it. Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Bo Jackson and Tim Brown wrote an endorsment note for it as well. Former Michigan State coach George Perles is on the Christmas Bowl board, with his son, John, the bowl’s president.

Dearwater said his bowl proposal “fell short of meeting the NCAA’s licensing criteria due to our inability to secure a back-up conference agreement” for the Pac-10′s No. 7 selection.

“The bottom line is that there were no more ‘bowl eligible’ teams to align with, given 35 bowls, and the NCAA’s four-year history on bowl eligible teams of 71.8.”

Dearwater said the Cure Bowl, based in Florida, also had the same problem. Both games, Dearwater insists, “are wonderful bowl concepts that make complete sense, given their regional conference alignments, as well as their benevolent causes.”

He’s not giving up. Dearwater said the Christmas Bowl will continue to get on the map past 2011.

And if it’s for the kids, we’re behind it. It’s just that … what harm would it have been to generate some support it the intent was to have it this calendar year?

Need more info, try www.christmasbowl.org Although, when we tried this site, we got that “400 Bad Request” message. Dang it.

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Your L.A. Slam would dig your support

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First, understand the American Basketball Association — the ABA — ain’t gone away. Red, white and blue, you have a team to get behind, the Los Angeles SLAM.

They’re playing the Philippine National Basketball team on Monday, at L.A. Southwest College. The Philippine team, working on its game for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, finished fifth in the recent FIBA Asia Championships Cup and took a bronze in the 21st Dubai International Tournament.

More info:

http://LosAngelesSlam.com

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30 baseball books in 30 days of ’10: Day 24 — You can make this stuff up

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The book: “Home, Away”

The author: A novel by Jeff Gillenkirk

The vital stats: Chin Music Press, 268 pages, $15

Find it: The publisher’s site has it (linked here) as does Barnes and Noble (linked here)

The pitch: Would a real major league pitcher walk away from a $40-million, six-year contract to try to straighten out the life of his teen-age son, who six years prior had cut him out of his life?

If only Jason Thibodeaux was that real person. He’d probably be our new favorite player.

Custody battles, alcohol and drug problems, juvenile detention center, run-ins with the cops, raw emotions … the stuff that real divorced parents deal with on a regular basis these days with children who rage against the machine, fight the system, and rarely win, is what holds this poignant story together.

The twist here is that it’s a Stanford-educated pitcher who tries to stay focused on a career in baseball pursuing his dream all while feeling guilty that he can’t be there on a regular basis for his son, Rafael, who continues to get pulled in different directions. Lord knows, Jason tries — even forcing Rafe to come with him to the park to do his home work in one of the locker room offices.

First-time novelist Gillenkirk’s choice to make the Thibodeaux a dad torn between the challenges of the big leagues and the bigger challenges of fatherhood creates a scenario that definitely would be a drawn-out drama by today’s media standards. Fittingly, Gillenkirk tries to insert that element by having a sports columnist advance the story each chapter – albeit, with pieces written by someone who’s far too smaltzy to really ever be hired by USA Today, as we’re led to believe.

The real-life struggles that divorced parents — especially single dads — have to endure if they’re really committed to trying to figure out the best way to raise a wild child come through all-too-painful here. No matter how much Thibodeaux tries to make up for the fact that his dad was rarely there for him as he worked in the oil fields makes you want this new dad to succeed, despite the odds.

Unfortunately, it all leads to a far more incredulous, unrealistic climax. It definitely won’t satisfy the baseball fan, but may get past someone who knows little to nothing about the sport. But, considering all that we’ve gone through to get this far – why not make it end this way.

How it goes down in the scorebook: Because novels can be such a personal journey for the author, it’s tougher for us to be critical of their efforts. Gillenkirk, for example, knows all about what it’s like to be a single dad, as he wrote this piece for fathermag.com (linked here). He comes from a place of knowledge, fear, trials and tribulations. For that, we applaud him. Deep down, this book works. Plus, it has a pretty cool cover.

Did you know: The origin of “chin music,” which the publisher takes as its name, goes way behind a baseball term, as they explain (linked here). Really? Mark Twain?

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Also: Another shot at baseball fiction, try “The Man With Two Arms” by Billy Lombardo (Overlook Press, $24.95), reviewed here by James Bailey for BaseballAmerican.com (linked here)

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Kevin Kennedy tells about subduing a man threatening to blow up his plane

A Los Angeles-to-Tampa flight was diverted to Albuquerque early this morning with a passenger who allegedly threatened to blow up the aircraft and attempted to open the main cabin door was subdued by the crew and fellow passengers.

Kevin Kennedy, the Sirius-XM radio host and former Dodgers pre- and post-game analyst for Prime Ticket, was on the flight and involved in the effort to restrain the passenger.

The former Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox manager, currently working as a Tampa Bay Rays’ broadcaster, went on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM with colleagues Jim Bowden and Casey Stern to discuss the incident today, a transcript provided by Sirius XM:

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Someone was trying to pull together the Christmas Bowl in L.A.? Ho ho … no

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The NCAA has approved 35 bowl games for the next four years, including two new ones: the Dallas Football Classic and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York.

That one better than the 34 bowls licensed for 2009-10. Better, we guess, is a relative term.

But among those that were rejected: The Christmas Bowl in L.A., and the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

The NCAA said Friday that the bowls were licensed on a four-year cycle for the first time, though they will be reviewed each year. The move puts the licensing schedule — from 2010-11 through 2013-14 — in line with the length of bowl conference agreements.

The first Pinstripe Bowl will be played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on Dec. 30. It will include the No. 3 team in the Big East and the No. 6 school in the Big 12, excluding Bowl Championship Series participants.

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The first Dallas Football Classic at the Cotton Bowl is planned for New Year’s Day 2011, involving the seventh-ranked team from the Big 12 against the sixth-ranked team from the Big Ten. Future games will include Conference USA.

As for this Christmas Bowl idea — no idea who or what was behind it. Anyone willing to take responsibility?

The history books show that on Dec. 25, 1924, something called the Christmas Festival Bowl was played at the Coliseum: USC defeated Missouri, 20-7.

Tough to imagine in today’s hot-button climate ever backing something that seems to run smack into the winds of poitical correctness.

Santa, flip the coin and let’s get on with it.

More on the NCAA announcement is linked here, which includes the entire list (with sponsor names).

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30 baseball books in 30 days of ’10: Day 23 — Bats left, throws right, thinks globally

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The book I: “The Politics of Baseball: Essays on the Pasttime and Power at Home and Abroad”

The author: Edited by Ron Briley

The vital stats: McFarland, 256 pages, $39.95

Find it: On Amazon.com (linked here)

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The book II: “The Empire Strikes Out: How Baseball Sold U.S. Foreign Policy and Promoted the American Way Abroad”

The author: Robert Elias

The vital stats: The New Press, 448 pages, $27.95

Find it: On Amazon.com (linked here)

The pitch: Steve Garvey (R-Calif.) hasn’t happened, and probably won’t any time soon. But there was a time when it seemed almost part of his All-American destiny.

Scandals in his personal life with childs out of wedlock essentially derailed any kind of political pursuit for the former Dodgers All-Star first baseman, but there was no doubt that a life in public service was one of his career goals when he retired in the late ’80s.

Maybe if he were to read the first chapter in the Briley-edited “The Politics of Baseball,” a piece entitled “Baseball and Ballots: Players and Politicians” by John A. Tures, Garvey might reconsider.

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The Media Learning Curve: You’re on the clock … hurry up … no, really … just make a pick and stick with it

Following up on today’s media column (linked here) on the drama of the NFL draft, plus the story about the NCAA basketball tournament spilling over onto cable (linked here):

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Bob Brower/MLB Network
Kevin Millar, right, joins Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds in Studio 42 of the MLB Network during a recent visit.

== New MLB Network studio analyst Kevin Millar, who keeps a home in Mesa, Ariz., as well as Beaumont, Tex., says he gets to Southern California often to visit his dad, who lives in Valencia, and his mom, who is based in Encino. If so, how did he get such a Southern twang after all those years in Southern California — growing up in the Santa Clarita Valley, attending Hart High in Newhall as a freshman and then going to and graduating from West L.A.’s Uni High.

“Yeah, they say I got this hillbilly thing going,” Millar said Thursday.

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Just a couple of weeks after the Chicago Cubs took Chad Tracy over him for the 25th roster spot, Millar wants to have fun and keep in the loop working for the MLB Network in the meantime. Recently, pitcher John Smoltz signed on with MLB Network while saying he would also not retire in case a team wanted him later this summer.

“But guys like Smoltz, they’re good; I’m a common player,” said Millar. “I can’t sit around the gym and just come back. It’s a bummer (about being released) but that’s just part of the business.”

Millar also said if given the chance to play for the Dodgers or Angels, he’d be here in a second.

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“I’ve been dying to get there,” he said of Southern Calfornia. “When Grady Little (his former manager with the Red Sox) got the job with the Dodgers, they already had Olmedo Seanz signed to a two-year deal, so that spot was filled. Then Nomar (Garciaparra) came when the McCourts bought the team. So it never really worked. And I’ve been begging (Angels manager Mike) Scioscia for many years, but it’s always got to be that right fit. It would be a dream to be out on the West Coast.”

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Becks has the edge, at least with his wallet … sorry, Donovan

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The Associated Press

LONDON — Forbes magazine says David Beckham still reigns supreme as soccer’s top-earning player.

The Galaxy’s 35-year-old midfielder earns $40 million annually, with much of that coming from sponsors such as Adidas, Giorgio Armani and Motorola. But Beckham is expected to lose major sponsorship money this year because he will miss the World Cup in South Africa after tearing his Achilles’ tendon in March while on loan from the Galaxy to AC Milan.

Portuguese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo is second on the Forbes list, earning $30 million a year. Ronaldo’s major sponsors include Nike, Coca-Cola and, like Beckham, Giorgio Armani. Ronaldo, the 2008 FIFA Player of the Year, became the highest paid soccer player in the world in June when Real Madrid bought the 25-year-old winger from Manchester United for $130 million. He signed a six-year contract that pays an estimated $15.5 million in the first year, then increases 25 percent each season.

Brazilian playmaker Kaka, Ronaldo’s teammate at Madrid, is third on the list, earning $25 million annually — the same amount earned by Brazil’s Ronaldinho.

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Why 68 is great, and how the NCAA-CBS-Turner package is win-win-no-more-whiny for everyone

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In announcing this morning a revived 14-year, $10.8 billion joint deal with CBS and Turner Sports to cover every media angle of its highly-profitable men’s basketball tournament through 2024, the NCAA ducked more criticism from those who feared that TV would water the product down in pushing the number of competitors to 96 teams.

It’s only a modest 68. For now.

The bigger benefit for viewers – all first- and second-round contests will be carried live and in their entirety on either CBS, TNT, TBS or Turner’s truTV channel, rather than be stuffed into a CBS window with cut-ins that only serve to frustrate out-of-market followers for the last several years.

And the benefit for CBS – it gets relief from paying the last three back-loaded years of its $6 billion deal with the NCAA which could have doomed the network’s financial stability. The major compromise for CBS is that, after doing things its way since 1982, it will alternate coverage of the Final Four and title game with TBS starting in 2016.

CBS Sports and News chief Sean McManus said he wouldn’t use the term “bailout” to describe this new arrangement, nor would he admit that the tournament outgrew CBS’ coverage.

“It was a system that worked for 29 years as a practical matter to generate exposure,” he said. “The viewer demand for watching all the games has been greater and the way the viewer consumes media is much different, even from five years ago. To compete in this market place we needed a cable partner. It’s a perfect deal for CBS, Turner and the NCAA, and really the basketball fan. It’s win-win for everyone involved.”

Except, perhaps, for ESPN.

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