Weekly media column version 03.09.12

What’s in today’s version of the weekly media column (linked here): A look at ESPN’s presentation Sunday of “The Announcement,” a hour-and-a-half documentary that goes back to the 1991 relevation that Magic Johnson made about his HIV status and how far things have come to this point. There’s also some notes about the upcoming coverage of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament pairings, Galaxy coverage on TV, and new books to track down.

What’s not in the column:

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== Because the documentary that will surely prompt further discussion, ESPN announced this week that it added a half-hour interview follow-up show hosted by Bill Simmons called “The B.S. Special: Magic Johnson,” starting at 7:30 p.m. The first part of a podcast interview that Simmons, an executive producer on the “30 For 30″ series, did with Johnson is available on Grantland.com today (linked here).

== A Q-and-A with “The Announcement” director Nelson George, via ESPN’s PR blog (linked here).

== When Johnson announced his first retirement in 1991 — he came back for a short time in 1992, retired because he didn’t want to be a distraction, then came back again in 1996 — he kept a smile on his face and even told the assembled media that he was “going to be here to bug you guys for a long time.”
Somehow, Johnson kept his promise. He’s involved in the Broadway production of a play about himself and Larry Bird, launched a TV network with Comcast called Aspire and has aspirations of becoming the next owner of the Dodgers.
Today, he says he believed his own words back then “a hundred percent. I’m a competitor. You know me. I never thought I was going to die. I believe, besides the medicine, my mindset and attitude, and also working out, (that) has been the key for me being around for a long time.”

== Connor Schell, an ESPN Films executive vice president, said that the original concept for “The Announcement” documentary was to focus more on that day back in 1991, as the title implies. But as discussion on the storyline continued, everyone involved decided it was imperative to extend it to present day, not just re-hash the instant when Johnson stepped to the podium in a packed room at the Forum before local and national media as rumors had already leaked that he was retiring because had full-blown AIDS.

== The next ESPN Films project to be launched will be “26 Years: The Dewey Bozella Story,” airing Thursday, March 15, at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN. Bozella, sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for a murder he did not commit, turned himself into the light-heavyweight champ of Sing Sing Prison. When Bozella was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at The 2011 ESPYs in July, Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins got together to arrange for him to fight for the first time as a free man, having received his boxing licence at age 52. Laurence Fishburne narrates the film.

== The pending launch of Fox Sports San Diego, a vehicle that will provide the city with its Padres coverage, is expected to keep Dick Enberg as the play-by-play man, as he was during the Cox Channel 4 days there. FS San Diego will be on DirecTV and Cox (Channel 56), but of course, there’s no deal yet with Time Warner, which has about 30 percent of the city’s cable market. Aside from carrying all Padres’ regular-season games, Fox Sports San Diego will provide much of what L.A. gets on Prime Ticket: The Clippers, Ducks and USC and UCLA sports.

== Having already locked up many CIF-Southern Section sports and state championship games, Time Warner announced a deal this week to be the official content distributor for high school sports in the Los Angeles City section, as well as the San Diego Section.

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== Former Galaxy player Kyle Martino, the lead analyst on the NBC Sports Network’s MLS coverage, starts with the FC Dallas-New York Red Bull game on Sunday at noon, with Arlo White on play-by-play. The unique part of Martino’s contribution will be that he’ll be on the field between the benches during the game instead of in the booth — mirroring what NBC does with its NHL “between the glass” coverage.
“I’ve called games off a monitor before, but the advantage will be now, with my fieldlevel vantage point, I can bring that sort of tactical analysis of breaking the game down,” Martino said. “I’ll be able to give that (analysis) along with hearing (Galaxy coach) Bruce Arena yelling at Landon Donovan to stay a little wider. Hearing Landon Donovan yell into David Beckham, saying, ‘Try to hit that first touch to me.’ Being able to see these oneonone individual battles, and grabbing more information than I was able to grab when I was up in the booth (it) actually enhances my commentary.”

== ESPN’s 17th season of MLS coverage starts with Philadelphia at Portland on Monday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Former MLS star Taylor Twellman begins his tenure as the game analyst with Adrian Healey on the call and Mnica Gonzlez on the sidelines. Alexi Lalas will be back in the studio with host Todd Grishman and Kasey Keller.

== Part of the new UFC deal with Fox includes having “The Ultimate Fighter Live” 13-week reality series, which launches tonight on FX with a 2 -hour premiere episode (9 p.m.) which, despite the title, is not live. Perhaps the three-hour finale on June 1 will be.

== Jack Whitaker, who for years has been known for his essays and coverage for ABC and CBS, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports at the Sports Emmy ceremonies on April 30. ESPN president John Skipper says the 87-year-old Whitaker, who these days lives in Palm Springs, “brought thoughtful perspective, a sports fan’s passion and dignified gravitas to his every assignment, and his graceful prose elevated the presentation of sports’ biggest events.”

And finally:

== From our own Twitter posts Wednesday (as if it makes any sense to a non-Twitter reader): @CBKonFox How about dialing it back on the innocuous twitter updates during P12 tourney TV. Some of us would like to watch the game … (the) last time @lauramckeeman popped up, trying to make twitterverse seem relevant, we were driven to watch ‘around the horn” (on ESPN) Gulp.

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