UPDATED on Friday, noon:
The focus of this week’s media columnification up on the website:
Showtime’s sports division (home of “Inside the NFL” and Jim Rome’s monthly extravaganza) has the latest documentary on the social importance of 1970 USC-Alabama football game played in Birmingham, Ala., with “Against The Tide” debuting Friday at 8 p.m. (Replays include Saturday at noon and Wednesday at 7:45 p.m.). We’ve also got more notes on ESPN’s “Game Day” heading to the USC campus, a CBS Sports Net documentary on the 1963 Army-Navy game, and the final episode of HBO’s “Eastbound & Down” drawing comparisons to “Breaking Bad.”
What didn’t make it into the column, but not for lack of merit:
== Showtime had a special screening for “Against The Tide” in Tuscaloosa, Ala., last week. At that time, producer Ross Greenburg thanked Showtime Sports executive vice president and GM Stephen Espinoza for giving him the green light to tell the story. “It takes a lot of courage for people in television to go back and do these stories. It doesn’t happen so easily. When old stories are rich like this they need to be told. I thank Stephen Espinoza personally for giving me the opportunity to tell this one and many more.”
Update: == Via the Sports Business Daily: Two reviews to also consider — From the Onion’s AVClub.com (calling out how the doc seems to “anoint” Bear Bryant as the “grand engineer behind integration on the Crimson Tide”, giving the work a C+) and the New York Daily News (which fails to determine of Bryant was trying to make change or just win games).
== Read up on that game in a piece written by David Davis for the L.A. Times on its 30th anniversary.
== What interest did FBI director J. Edgar Hoover have in all?
== More books on the subject of college football and civil rights: A recent release by Simon & Schuster called “Breaking The Line: The Season in Black College Football that Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights,” by New York Times columnist Samuel G. Freedman. The focus is on Grambling coach Eddie Robinson and Florida A&M’s Jake Gaither.
== Here’s a six-minute clip of a then-CSTV half-hour documentary done on the 1970 USC-Alabama game in 2006, which includes commentary from former USC assistant Craig Fertig (who died two years after this):
Update == The Sports Business Daily reports that ESPN’s latest batch of “30 For 30″ documentaries was down 35 percent in viewership from the five films that aired last fall. Unfortunately, the small audience tuned in to see our favorite, “Free Spirits,” on the ABA’s Spirts of St. Louis (699,000), less than half of who saw the most-watched doc (1.34 million) called “No Mas” about the Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran bout.
UPDATE == Ed Sherman on the ShermanReport.com sheds more light on our analysis about why CBS gave up the Denver-Kansas City NFL game on Sunday to NBC, where not only L.A. (which would not have seen it because of the rules involving Chargers road games in this market) but most of the country would have missed it as well.
UPDATE == Also, thanks to Sherman, a piece about the lack of powerful females in sportscasting by Amy K. Nelson. Is it related to the lack of powerful women in the offices making decisions?
== The HBO version of Mike Tyson’s one-man stage play, “Undisputed Truth,” produced by Spike Lee, comes to the network on Saturday (8 p.m.). On our DirecTV menu, it’s listed as a “biography, comedy, docudrama” with the AC and AL warnings. Replays includes Sunday (12:45 a.m.), Tuesday (3 and 8 p.m.) and Sunday, Nov. 24 (4:15 p.m.)
“Undisputed Truth” leads into the delay broadcast of the Andre Ward-Edwin Rodriguez fight (10 p.m.) from Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, with Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr. on the call.
== From the new CBSSN documentary “Marching On: 1963 Army-Navy Remembered”
== What are we supposed to make of this list that something called Talkers Magazine did of “The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America”? Taking it for what it seems to be worth, you’ve got KLAC’s Pat O’Brien and Steve Hartman at No. 12, but Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith at No. 33? Steve Mason and John Ireland at No. 17, but Jay Mohr (No. 21) and Colin Cowherd (No. 22) not in the top 10? And all hail Hacksaw Hamilton, who caught on at No. 92. Reaction?
== Because the Baseball Writers Association of America reveals how its voters vote on its website for the NL Rookie of the Year, it was revealed that the San Diego Union Tribune’s John Maffei was the only one of the 30 balloters to not include the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig with either a first, second or third-place vote. His ballot: Miami’s Jose Fernandez, St. Louis’ Shelby Miller, and San Diego’s Jedd Gyorko. Including Puig in any of the placements would not have changed the outcome of Puig coming second to Fernandez. But it was interesting to hear him defend his picks on Tuesday’s Max Kellerman-Marcellus Wiley KSPN-AM (710) show. “Don’t call me a homer, I voted how I felt,” Maffei says. It opens up the larger discussion: How do writers pick any of these awards? What numbers to they holder more valuable than others? And as for the debate about the value of the WAR stat, Puig’s 5.0 WAR trailed Fernandez’s 6.3 but was ahead of Miller’s 3.41 and Grorko’s 2.23.
== Somehow, Kings broadcasters Bob Miller and Jim Fox weren’t elevator challenged in Buffalo earlier this week.
== Can lawmakers push a bill through to end NFL blackouts? Via a find on Sports Business Daily.
== Fox Sports West’s opening week of high school football playoffs has Mark Rogondino and John Jackson, with Rashsaun Haylock and Alex Curry at the Mater Dei-Oaks Christian game (Friday, 7:30 p.m.), followed by a “High School Spotlight Scoreboard Show” at 10:30 p.m.
The Prep Zone games at foxsportswest.com/prepzone has:
Orange Lutheran vs. Long Beach Poly (7 p.m.), Saugus at Atascadero (7 p.m.), Cathedral vs. Lompoc (7 p.m.) and Servite vs. Westlake (7:30 p.m.)
== One more documentary to chase down this week: The Big Ten Network has something called “Tiebreaker,” (Saturday, 4 p.m., repeated at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m.), examining the 1973 Ohio State-Michigan 10-10 tie and all the controversy that followed in how the conference athletic directors voted to send the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl, even though both teams had 7-0-1 records.
== The newest “This is SportsCenter” spot: The Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan joins the “Top Ten Club,” which is really a supply room on the Bristol, Conn., campus set aside for others who regularly made the “Top 10 Plays of the Day” to stand around and be uncomfortable with each other:
== It’s unfortunate that there wasn’t much time dedicated to a segment that KNBC-Channel 4’s Fred Roggin did with so-called “celebrity hoaxer” and L.A. resident Kenny Tarr during last Sunday’s episode of “Going Roggin.” Tarr proclaimed he was “on the new frontier of broadcast journalism, sports media and entertainment.” Roggin thankfully pointed out that Tarr was practicing “journalism by misrepresentation” if anything, and was “operating against one of the basic principals” by pretending to be someone he wasn’t. Not that Tarr seemed to care. Also check out a story about Tarr in the New York’s Village Voice.
== One of the first things that came to mind when hearing of the passing of former Raiders tight end Todd Christensen: His short career at the first L.A. all-sports radio station KMPC-AM (710) as Joe McDonnell’s co-host. “Top Cat” Christensen was there at the start on April 27. He quit on June 6.
Another memory: The time Roy Firestone had Christensen on his “Up Close” show, at a time when Christensen did work on NBC’s Notre Dame football package. I wrote something about how the network could be influenced by such sacred icons as “Touchdown Jesus” and become partial to the school in its reporting. Firestone actually read an excerpt of that to Christensen, who barked back something, using my name amidst his rant, to discredit that thought in only a way Christensen could do.
== How ESPN remembered Christensen.
UPDATE == Don Barrett’s new column on LARadio.com includes imput from McDonnell and Roggin about working with Christensen.
== HBO’s next “Real Sports” (Tuesday, 10 p.m.) — episode 200 in the series that started in 1995 — includes a piece on former Lakers assistant and current Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw, with reporter Bernard Goldberg. Also, Goldberg goes to Sochi to look at preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in a piece called “Putin’s Olympics,” focusing on how bribery and cronyism have forced the cost of this event past $50 billion.
== How the MLB Network becomes relevant during this so-called “Hot Stove League” period — compiling round-table discussions like the one airing Saturday at 6 p.m. called “MLB 2013: Unwritten Rules.” In the one-hour discussion, Bob Costas is joined by Jim Kaat, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci to discuss things such as stealing signs, bunting to break up a no-hitter, pitcher retaliation, on-field celebrations, admiring home runs, and home-plate collision etiquette — all based on things that happened this past season.
== Finally: The “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” spread Fox Sports employee Erin Andrews has in the latest issue of Self magazine reveals how her workout routine can get you “sexier abs, arms and thighs.” The stuff just writes itself. Go ahead, look at the pictures. Can’t stop you there. And how is this workout better/worse than the one she already did for Self a couple of years ago?