Pac-12 Broadcasting 101: The kids are all right on USC-UCLA live hoops

Nico Gervasoni checks the shot from his Camera 5 position at Wednesday night’s UCLA-USC basketball game at Pauley Pavilion, televised by the Pac-12 Network. (Staff photo/John McCoy)

To Nico Gervasoni’s credit, he’s not camera shy.

The 19-year-old UCLA political science major may have had an anthropology and Italian class Wednesday morning, plus the need to study for a poli-sci midterm today.

But in between, the hands-on lessons that the sophomore learned from running Camera 5 during the Pac-12 Network’s coverage of the UCLA-USC basketball game at Pauley Pavilion probably helped him just as much to see a bigger picture of what a career in broadcast journalism could be like.

Because the recently-launched Pac-12 Networks is owned by the dozen member schools, a key part of the plan in broadcasting some 550 live events on TV for the initial sports calendar year is to treat the broadcasts as a lab experience by filling jobs on the TV production side – utility, parabolic microphones, font coordinators assisting the graphic engineer, plus running cameras and performing the stage manager tasks.

Producer Michael Molinari had a crew of about 25 on Wednesday night’s game, and two of them were UCLA students in key roles.

In the six-camera operation – two are at high mid-court to follow the primary game action, three’s one hand-held under each basket and one more floor-level at mid-court — Gervasoni’s responsibility  with the so-called “low slash” camera was to park himself in the upper level of the arena looking down at the team benches and isolate on things that director Scott Barke asked for over the headset. Continue reading

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Say it ain’t so, Marino

Dan Marino warms up for an appearance on CBS’ “The Talk” this week from New Orleans, but probably didn’t talk about anything that’d be as interesting as if he would have appeared today (Photo: CBS)

CBS says that NFL studio analyst Dan Marino has “said all there is to say” on a New York Post exclusive that broke early this morning about him having an affair with a CBS production assistant that resulted in her having their child in 2005 and “he’ll be in his usual role on our broadcast Super Bowl Sunday.”

Usual, but not without some raised eyebrows from viewers who’ve read Marino’s statement that it was “a personal and private matter (which) I take full responsibility both personally and financially.”

Contrast that with the lead to a story that the Orlando Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde did last Sunday about Marino, who has been married 28 years to wife Claire and has four sons and two adopted daughters:

“People always lament how sports stars aren’t heroes like they used to be. Lance Armstrong lies. Tiger Woods stains his name. The entire Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is at issue. But what if everyone’s telling the wrong stories?”

Hyde went onto tell the story of Marino meeting a 23-year-old man with autism, and how The Dan Marino Foundation’s WalkAbout Autism fundraiser drew about 20,000 participants Saturday in Miami.

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You question the Dodgers’ motives?

The vision that the Dodgers have for their new SportsNet L.A. TV channel coming in 2014 will take more shape over the next 12 months while their current deal with Prime Ticket and KCAL-Channel 9 lasts for one more season.

While much of what will happen is speculation in the wake of today’s announcement that a deal was officially struck between the Dodgers and Time Warner cable on a reported $8 billion, 25-year contract, we’ll try to answer of the pertinent questions brought up already:

Q: How is this deal any better or worse than what the Lakers did with Time Warner Cable?

A: The Dodgers take a far greater risk by getting into the TV business themselves, but the greater long-term reward is if it succeeds. But there are many gambles involved. Continue reading

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The Dodgers-TWC official announcement

As officially announced today by Time Warner Cable’s info bureau:

LOS ANGELES, (January 28, 2013) – The Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group created American Media Productions, LLC (AMP) in December 2012 to launch a new Los Angeles Dodgers regional sports network. Today, AMP announced its plans for SportsNet LA, the new regional television home for the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning with the 2014 Major League Baseball season. In addition to being the exclusive local home for all of the Dodger games, SportsNet LA will provide comprehensive behind-the-scenes Dodger programming, featuring more insights, analysis and commentary about the team than ever available before.

Time Warner Cable (TWC) has agreed to be SportsNet LA’s charter distributor, and will carry the new network for its customers throughout Southern California and Hawaii under a long-term affiliation deal. In addition, in return for agreeing to make payments over the life of the deal, TWC will be the exclusive advertising and affiliate sales agent for the new network and will have certain branding and programing rights with respect to the network. TWC will also provide certain non-game production and technical services to AMP.

Mark Walter, Chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said, “We concluded last year that the best way to give our fans what they want – more content and more Dodger baseball – was to launch our own network. The creation of AMP will provide substantial financial resources over the coming years for the Dodgers to build on their storied legacy and bring a World Championship home to Los Angeles. Just as we are actively transforming the team and the stadium, we want the Dodgers to be exhibited on the very best sports network in the country – one that will provide an unrivaled fan experience.”

Todd Boehly, a principal owner of AMP, said, “We are greatly pleased that Time Warner Cable, the largest distributor in the marketplace, has come aboard to support the Dodgers and SportsNet LA as our charter distributor. Their presence in Los Angeles will be invaluable in helping us serve Dodger fans and our community with excellence.”

“We are delighted to support the Dodgers and their ownership group in their launch of SportsNet LA. The Dodgers have one of the most passionate and loyal audiences in sports, and we look forward to helping deliver this new network to their fans,” said David Rone, President of Time Warner Cable Sports. “This deal, like our Lakers’ deal, furthers our efforts to attain greater certainty and control over local and regional sports programming costs.”

The agreement with TWC is subject to certain closing conditions. Additional terms were not disclosed.

AMP was advised by Evolution Media Capital and Guggenheim Securities and the law firms Davis Polk & Wardwell, Foley & Lardner, O’Melveny & Myers, and Winston & Strawn. TWC was advised by Desser Sports Media and by the law firms Covington & Burling, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and Holland & Hart.

With a postscript by the Dodgers:

Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten released the following statement this morning regarding the new Los Angeles Dodgers regional sports network:
“The launch of the new regional sports network is a historic development for the Dodgers and our passionate fans,” said Stan Kasten, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Our commitment from day one has been to build the Dodgers into the best team possible, both on and off the field. Our fans deserve the best - the best players, the best baseball, and the best experience – whether that’s at the newly renovated Dodger Stadium or on television.
“Our mission is to have the most fan-friendly sports programming, and we welcome ideas and suggestions from our Dodger Community. We look forward to sharing updates with fans in the coming months. In the meantime, we remain very excited about the upcoming 2013 season where we will be showcasing our incredible new roster and the many enhancements to Dodger Stadium, as well as continuing our commitment to broadcast excellence with our current partners Fox Sports and KCAL 9.”

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What five things did we learn last weekend: Jan. 24-27

Kobe Bryant throws a pass and hits Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison in the mouth during the second half of Sunday’s Laker win at Staples Center.. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Just a little help staying ahead of the sports world learning curve heading back into the work week:

They’re going to say the Lakers have turned a corner, figured out all that’s been wrong, and have nothing but a clear path ahead toward finally pulling together this once-in-a-lifetime Hall of Fame squad on the same page. A win over Utah is one thing; smacking around OKC is more than OK. While Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook didn’t do their teams any favors with key misses down the stretch, the residual effect’s of the Lakers win over the team with the NBA’s best record seems to rest on a new distributor role for Kobe Bryant – back-to-back games with 14 assists, and two games straight where he’s had more assists than shot attempts. And he still had a team-best 21 points in the nine-point victory with former teammate Derek Fisher sitting courtside along with Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, Matt Kemp and Vernon Wells. “It should build the confidence in that, if we play right, we all commit to the team first, we’re going to play good basketball,” said ABC game analyst Jeff Van Gundy – no, he’s not lobbying to be the next coach. “We’re going to have some great nights, and maybe some nights we lose, but we can’t question whether we should play unselfishly again.” Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Jan. 28-Feb. 3

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:


SUPER BOWL XLVIII in New Orleans: San Francisco vs. Baltimore, 3:25 p.m., Channel 2:

One of the first volleys in the Harbaugh-vs.-Harbaugh Super Bro Bowl storyline was launched last week from the Twitter account of The Sporting Scene, which is the sports blog of New Yorker magazine: “A reminder that Jim Harbaugh was on ‘Saved By The Bell: The New Class.’ Your move, John.” Unfortunately, there was also a YouTube clip attached. Which brings the storyline to a screeching halt by leading us to believe that that Jim Harbaugh was the cousin of Screech. Which must also imply there’s some DNA shared with John Harbaugh. Oh, how this all must look so many years later.
As Chuck Culpepper points out on, trying to rank the Harbaughs in the entire world of sports siblings, John and Jim have a collective seven NFL playoff berths, two Super Bowl appearances, a 78-33 NFL coaching record, one Orange Bowl victory, 26,288 NFL passing yards and 129 touchdown passes. And on his list, they rank 10th. (The winners: The NHL’s six Sutter brothers, one of whom has a Stanley Cup in L.A.) But it was the same writer who also said, a few days earlier, he was already weary of the storyline hype, and quoted John Harbaugh as saying: “You know what, I agree with you, let’s just cut that right now. We did that last year [when the teams played on Thanksgiving]. It got old last year. You’re right, move past that and let’s talk about the two teams.”
With that, the other storylines that’ll be beaten to death before the game is played:
== It’s the last game for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, so he says.
== Does NFL commish Roger Goodell need extra body guards in “Bountygate”-ville?
== When does Joe Flacco stop getting flack for not being an “elite” quarterback?
== What tattoo will Colin Kaepernick add if the 49ers win, if there is any real estate left?
== Does San Francisco realize it is 5-0 all time in Super Bowls?
== What’s really in a Hurricane cocktail at Pat O’Brien’s?



GOLF: Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, conclusion of final round, 1 p.m., Channel 2:

Tiger Woods is left with some unfinished business because darkness fell and the tourney isn’t over. This will almost feel like the final round of the 2008 U.S. Open, won’t it? He’s got seven career wins on the course, including that major.

NHL: Kings vs. Vancouver, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Replica championship rings for those who show.


NBA: Lakers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Onion rings for those who show. Continue reading

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Sunday Q-and-A with Bill Cowher: No need to coach him on how to talk to the Harbaughs

Bill Cowher hopes to get the call this week from CBS, asking him to sit down with both Jim and John Harbaugh for an interview session that will be part of the network’s coverage of the San Francisco-Baltimore Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl-winning coach has some of his own catching up to do with Family Harbaugh.

With Jim, it might be reminiscing about the 1995 AFC Championship. Cowher’s Steelers weren’t able to post a 20-16 win against the Indianapolis Colts until Jim Harbaugh’s final Hail Mary toss was nearly caught by Aaron Bailey, but then fell incomplete. Jim says that game haunts him to this day.

Steelers coach Bill Cowher and wife, Kaye, greet fans during a parade celebrating the team’s victory in Super Bowl XL on Feb. 7, 2006. Kaye died of cancer in 2010. (AP photo by Mark J. Terrill)

With John, it’s recalling a USO tour in Iraq they took together with Jon Gruden, Tom Coughlin and Jeff Fisher, one of the first trips taken by a group of NFL coaches.

Cowher also might also ask John something he just found out: Why is Jim’s oldest son, Jay, working on your Ravens’ staff, helping out with the scout squad and other game-related logistics?

“No one’s even talking about that angle,” said Cowher with a laugh. “So not only may Jim not be talking to his brother John this week, but he might not even be talking to his son. How’s that going to work?”

Cowher, six years entrenched now as part of the “NFL on CBS” studio team, agreed to size up this 49ers-Ravens matchup based on his own experiences of having been to this big dance twice:

Continue reading

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It’s Out of the Question: Too much bickering for Bickerstaff

Getty Images

What’s a quicker solution than all the bickering about how the greater good would be served by the immediate firing of Mike D’Antoni (12-20 since he took over, going into tonight’s game) and subsequent re-promotion of Bernie Bickerstaff (4-1 between Nov. 9-18), giving the Lakers the best chance possible at this point to claim the final Western Conference playoff spot?
Have D’Antoni run practices, Bickerstaff does the in-game strategy, and Magic Johnson tweets about it on a need-to-not-know basis.
Remember, Magic did have a spectacular 5-11 record himself as the head coach to end the 1994 season?
Yup, it was enough to make him quit.

== Relatively speaking, wouldn’t Bickerstaff be the best hire for a relocated Sacramento Kings in Seattle, the city where he once had some moderate success 20 years ago, instead of any attempt to needle Jeanie Buss’ fiancé to return? Continue reading

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Sports media column version 01.25.13

What made it into this week’s media column:

How did the Dodgers decide to venture off into their own channel, and still get paid billions to do so? And imagine all the time to fill with endless “Brady Bunch” reruns featuring Wes Parker as the guest star. Plus the backlash of a Katie Couric interview, Michelle Beadle’s new NBC Sports Net gig, and Frank Deford’s reason to shake his head at what he sees in today’s press box.

What unnecessarily got left out, due to time, space and other platitudes: Continue reading

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‘Well, either you’re the most naive person on the planet or this is the saddest story I think ever written’

Not to say it didn’t happen, but . . .

When ESPN broke into programming late last Friday to announce that reporter Jeremy Schaap had secured a 2 ½ -hour visit with former Notre Dame linebacker and presumed hoax victim Manti Te’o in Florida, but then agree to ground rules that there’s be no cameras or audio recording, can we be 100 percent sure that the two even met?

Could ESPN have Photoshopped those pictures released of Schaap sitting at some lunchroom table with Te’o?

Maybe the only thing that is transparent in Te’o’s decision to pre-tape an interview with Katie Couric, then have it air Thursday afternoon after some video and other transcriptions were released to the media beforehand is that this has all the earmarks of being orchestrated by well-trained publicist.

One, in fact, who works for both Couric and Te’o.

Publicist Matthew Hiltzik told CNN on Thursday afternoon that he  takes issue with those who have called Te’o a liar about his role in perpetuating the story of the dead girlfriend beyond the moment when he realized he had been played.

Lance Armstrong is a liar; Manti Te’o made one big mistake —  not telling his father the truth,” Hiltzik said, referring to a statement his father made in saying Te’o and the fictional Lennay Kekua had met in person.

Hiltzik also said it would have been “crazy and stupid and short-sighted” for Te’o to tell reporters that Kekua didn’t exist in interviews given before the BCS title game earlier this month because he was still sorting out the details.

So what did Te’o have to say for himself when giving the opportunity?

We sort of lost interest after hearing Couric’s first question: “What have the last few weeks been like for you?” Something caught our attention again when she asked whether he “was the most naive person on the planet, or this is the saddest story ever written.”

We choose both.

Couric had already gone off the rails 20 minutes in when she decided to ask Te’o if he was gay.

“No, far from it,” he said. “Faaaar from it.”

The audience laughed nervously. It sparked a #farfromgay Twitter feed that may have turned any kind sympathy toward Te’o into questions about whether he had come off as somewhat homophobic.

Nice help with the damage control, Katie.

Hey, just let us know when anyone gets around to a live interview with alleged perp Ronaiah Tuiasosopo – a name Couric couldn’t even pronounce during the Te’o talk.

Maybe Tuiasosopo’s publicist can at least get a phonetic  pronunciation guide delivered to Couric if she gets the call to stumble through this all again.

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