Recent buzz in New York after the screening of a documentary called “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story” focused on how Dodgers’ Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax actually made himself available to be interviewed for the project.
Ira Berkow, the New York Times writer who wrote the film and was the technical advisor, told the New York Post: “If you’re doing a film about Jews and baseball, you need Koufax in the film.”
Koufax’s last extended TV interview of note had to be in 1999 when ESPN was doing its “SportsCentury” series, and Charley Steiner was able to get to ask the questions after he used former Dodgers minor-league manager Kevin Kennedy as a go-between.
The New York Times notes that Koufax has turned down HBO several times in the last 30 years about doing a story on him.
According to the film’s website (linked here), the exclusive L.A. premiere of the movie, narrated by Dustin Hoffman and directed by Peter Miller, will be on Nov. 17 at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Beverly Hills, followed by the Laemmle’s Town Center 5 in Encino and Laemmle’s Music Hall Theatre in Beverly Hills (Nov. 19), the Chabad of Bel Air (Nov. 27) and the Camelot Theatre in Palm Springs (Dec. 3). Ticket purchases for the screenings at the temples, some of whom are using it as a fundraiser, can be found on their websites.
After the film debuted earlier this summer, a review from the Jerusalem Post back in July (linked here) said “one of the emotional high points” was recounting a accidental collision between the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson and famous Jewish first baseman Hank Greenberg, the former Detroit Tigers star now playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On May 17, 1947 — about a month after Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, he laid down a perfect bunt and streaked down the first-base line. The pitcher’s throw pulled first baseman Greenberg off the bag. Reaching for the throw, he collided with Robinson, who was able to get up and reach second.
The next inning Greenberg walked, and asked Robinson, who was playing first base, if he had been hurt in the collision.
“Greenberg gave him some words of encouragement, urging him not to let all the bigotry get to him,” Miller said. “It made a huge impression on Robinson.”
The closing credits give a shout-out to former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley for providing funding for the documentary.
One reason for Koufax’s inclusion here may be that Fred Wilpon, the current New York Mets owner and a close friend of Koufax — they played together at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn — is also on board.
Aside from Koufax, former Dodgers Shawn Green and Norm Sherry are interviewed. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun, out of Granada Hills High School, only appears in video clips.
Following up on today’s media column (linked here), here’s some unfunded media notes for the rest of the weekend:
== Joe Tessitore will host the two-day Breeders’ Cup coverage on ESPN2 (Friday), ABC and ESPN (Saturday) with analysts Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss. In one form or another, Kenny Mayne, Hank Goldberg, Nick Luck, Jeannine Edwards, Jay Privman, Caton Bredar, Steve Cyphers, Jeremy Schaap and Bill Nack will be part of the telecast. Trevor Denman will call the races.
Among the features planned to air somewhere on the weekend is something called “Zenyatta: Hollywood Overtime” – a screenplay feature about Zenyatta and her Hollywood-esque finishes in each race she competes, and another piece on Zenyatta’s relationship with jockey Mike Smith and trainer John Shirrefs.
There’s also a “Sport Science” breakdown by John Brenkus that explains the physics of her size and stride and how Zenyatta is able to recover after each race.
== How the L.A. NFL TV schedule shapes up:
= 10 a.m., Channel 2: San Diego at Houston (with ian Eagle and Dan Fouts, instead of N.Y. Jets-Detroit. Miami-Baltimore or New England-Cleveland. Fox has Arizona-Minnesota, Tampa Bay-Atlanta, New Orleans-Carolina and Chicago-Buffalo that won’t be shown).
= 1 p.m., Channel 2: Kansas City at Oakland (with Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots, instead of Indianapolis-Philadelphia with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms).
= 1 p.m., Channel 11: N.Y. Giants at Seattle (with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver)
= 5:20 p.m., Channel 4: Dallas at Green Bay (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer)
= 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden).
Next Thursday, the NFL Network’s eight-game slate begins with Baltimore at Atlanta (with Bob Papa, Matt Millen and Joe Theismann).
And on the NFL Network’s four-hour Sunday morning pregame (starting at 6 a.m.), Steve Mariucci has an interview with New York Jets (and former USC) quarterback Mark Sanchez.
== Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis and Rebecca Haarlow have the USC-Arizona State game from the Coliseum (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket), followed by a postgame show with Lindsay Soto and John Jackson. Versus has Ron Thulin, Glenn Parker and Kelly Stouffer callling the UCLA-Oregon State game from the Rose Bowl (4 p.m.), with Lewis Johnson on the sidelines.
== Bob Simon, who did last Sunday’s piece on Zenyatta, has another sports-related segment on the upcoming Sunday episode of CBS’ “60 Minutes” — trying again to hold NFL viewers — as he sits down with Manny Pacquiao during his prep for the Nov. 13 fight in Dallas against Antonio Margarito. The storyline focuses on how Pacquiao’s political concerns in the Philippines since his election to Congress have distracted him — a threat that HBO has followed as well with its “24/7″ documentary series (episode 3 airs Saturday). The web version of “60 Minutes” (from the clip above) has more about how he and his “team” are crammed into a two-bedroom L.A. apartment during his training.
== The fact that the TV ratings for the clinching game of the World Series finally topped a weakened Week 8 NFL game on Monday night is hardly much to celebrate at Fox. The day before, NBC’s Sunday night game (New Orleans-Pittsburgh on Halloween) outdrew World Series Game 4, 11.8 to 10.4. An avoidable contract conflict between Fox, Dish Network and Cablevision, which pushed some viewers to watch the World Series on MLB.com, obviously didn’t help. The 8.4 rating for the five games ties the ’08 Series for lowest-rated of all time. No. 2 market L.A. matched that number, but the markets of No. 1 New York (7.9) and No. 3 Chicago (6.8) didn’t. Dallas-Fort Worth (30.9) and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose (35.3) are the fifth- and sixth-largest TV markets in the country.
== HBO announced it has started production of a documentary called “Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV” that should debut in 2011 on the eve of college basketball’s basketball tournament. HBO president Ross Greenburg says the project focuses on the school’s Jerry Tarkanian-led basketball program from 1973 to 1992, which featured stars such as Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon and won the 1990 title, beating Duke by 30 in the final. The next season’s team went undefeated until it lost to Duke in the ’91 Final Four. UNLV hasn’t been back to a Final Four since.
== ESPN has added former UCLA player and Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket basketball analyst Sean Farnham as a game broadcaster, working with Dave Flemming on West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference games.
The ESPN college basketball season schedule starts Monday with the Rhode island-Pittsburgh (Dan Shulman and Doris Burke, 4 p.m., ESPNU), UC Irvine-Illinois (Dave Weekley and Dickey Simpkins, 5 p.m., ESPN3.com) and Navy-Texas (Carter Blackburn and Reid Gettys, 6 p.m., ESPNU)
== An upcoming overhaul of Deadspin.com, as part of changes made to all nine blogsites that are part of Gawker Media, was outlined in a recent Wall Street Journal story (linked here). The most noticable adjustment: They won’t be in reverse chronological format and focus instead on a single story like a newsmagazine. “I’m out of blogs; I don’t want to be the No. 1 blog network anymore,” said company president Nick Denton. “That’s like being king of the playground … I can’t bear to look at the current site. It is so constricting.”
== Fox Soccer Channel has given former Galaxy midfielder Kyle Martino the boot less than three months after he replaced Eric Wynalda on “Soccer Talk Live.” Only 10 of the 42 scheduled hour-long segments aired, according to an FSC spokesperson. The last was on Oct. 25. FSC general manager David Nathanson said in a statement that Martino will be featured in future FSC productions.
== Versus has taken hold of the NBA Development League for the second straight year –11 regular-season games, six playoff games and the title contest. The D-League coverage starts Nov. 18 with Rio Grande against Texas, coached by Nancy Lieberman (the first female to be a head coach for an NBA-affiliated team).
== The final nine for the 2010 World Series of Poker airs Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN, but for the first time, coverage will stream nearly live on ESPN3.com starting Saturday at noon (with a five-minute delay) and continuing Monday at 8:30 p.m.
The show’s coordinating producer Kathy Cook said there are 71 people on ESPN’s production team, and they’re using 21 cameras at the final table, with mikes on all nine players, the dealer, the tournament director and some in the crowd.
“You’re going to see a lot of stats on how aggressive a player is, pre-flop, post-flop tendencies, show downs won or lost, win percentages, chip swings,” said Cook. “We’re really going to give our viewers an unprecedented look on how the final table is being played out.”
The “November Nine” include seven professional poker players, a medical supplies salesman and a private businessman.
== A quick update from the Arizona Fall League: Don Mattingly’s Phoenix Desert Dogs, after 20 games, are last in the six-team league in hitting, almost 25 points behind the second-worst team. They’re second to last in team ERA (5.23) and are tied for the most losses. Mattingly also ran into a problem where he ran out of pitchers (some were injured, most were on pitch counts) and couldn’t finish a nine-inning game (linked here).
Mattingly could get some TV time when the MLB Network covers the Rising Stars Game (Saturday, 6 p.m., with Dave Valle and Daron Sutton on the call). It’s looking more and more doubtful Mattingly will make it to the AFL title game on Saturday, Nov. 20, which MLB Network will also televise live from Scottsdale, Ariz.