Weekly media column version 05.30.14 — The Sutter-to-Engblom-to-English translation of the Kings’ playoff run

What made it into this week’s version of the column posted online:
bengotoThe job description for Brian Engblom includes having to approach Kings coach Darryl Sutter on the bench during a live playoff game, ask him a pertinent question, and hope to get a coherent answer.
So far, so OK.
Engbloom, the former Kings’ defenseman who’s “Inside the Glass” for the NBCSN coverage of the Kings-Blackhawks series, returns to Staples Center for Friday’s Game 6 as the intensity rises.
We’ve got notes on the Dodgers’ coverage by FS1 and ESPN2 this weekend, more on Chris Roberts’ retirement decision from calling UCLA games and how CBS SportsNet has bought in again on pro beach volleyball this summer, starting with Sunday’s event in Florida.

What else could have been included:

SCULLYr140526== The timing of Kevin Fagan’s latest tribute to Vin Scully in his Drabble comic strip came on Memorial Day — the first of Scully’s two-day absence due to a chest cold. Which made listening to Scully return Wednesday all that much better. The GoComics.com website allows you to purchase a copy of this strip as well as the one Fagan did on Scully during the 2013 National League playoffs last October (see the story we did on it then).

== A Lakers Spanish-language broadcaster has filed suit against the team and Time Warner Cable, in part because they won’t allow him to interview Kobe Bryant. Get in line.

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Consider ESPN’s 7-up approach to Dodgers’ Sunday coverage

Actor Jon Hamm, left, joins Barry Larkin and Karl Ravech on the "ESPN Baseball Tonight" set during the Hollywood premier of "Million Dollar Arm" (from hollywoodreporter.com)

Actor Jon Hamm, left, joins Barry Larkin and Karl Ravech on the “ESPN Baseball Tonight” set during the Hollywood premier of “Million Dollar Arm” earlier this month (from hollywoodreporter.com)

On a typical Dodgers’ regular-season home game, a healthy Vin Scully is one sitting by himself in the TV booth named after him, describing the action below quite sufficiently.

On Sunday’s Dodgers-Pittsburgh game from Dodger Stadium, ESPN has a more mind-blowing concept — it’s going seven strong in trying to accomplish the same thing, taking the “Sunday Night Baseball” crew on an enterprising voyage that likely no broadcast team has tried before.

It starts with Karl Ravech and Barry Larkin, the usual hosts for the “Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown” on-site pregame show, sitting in the booth for Dan Shulman and John Kruk for the call of the game (5 p.m., ESPN2). Shulman and Kruk have the night off. But five other analysts don’t.

Eric Wedge will be wedged in the Dodger Stadium crowd sitting behind home plate. Mark Mulder and Aaron Boone are in the dugout wells. Doug Glanville is out in the right-field pavilion. And Buster Olney, usually down on the field somewhere providing news tidbits, will be in the press box instead.

“The booth, in my opinion, is somewhat antiquated but a safe haven to do a game from,” said ESPN vice president of production Mike McQuade. “We need to look at ways we can give more to the viewer by being in different locations, and if we can do that, how do we work on doing that. And this is a great venue to try all this out.”

Wedge, most recently the Seattle Mariners manager who joined the ESPN “Baseball Tonight” team this season, will be focused on talking about “big picture” strategy. Mulder, the 36-year-old former All-Star left-hander who tried a spring-training comeback with the Angels only to have it derailed by a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, will focus on the pitching aspect of the game. Boone, the former big-league infielder out of USC, will analyze the offensive strategies. Glanville, who spent nine seasons as an outfielder with the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers, has the duty of watching how the defense aligns from his perspective.

“Recently, we’ve had Doug positioned for a game in the outfield for a Mets broadcast, and it’s a completely different way to watch,” said McQuade.

Watching differently is what ESPN has been trying to experiment with as the 25th season of Sunday Night Baseball has come together this year. Last month, for example, Shulman and Kruk did a Cubs-Cardinals game from the right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field. Actor Charlie Sheen was a guest on “Baseball Tonight” last week from Cincinnati, while actor Jon Hamm, in the recently released film “Million Dollar Arm,” came into the remote studio site at Pittsburgh three weeks ago.

The celebrity factor that often accompanies a Dodgers game could be exploited as well for this ESPN telecast, too, but McQuade seems content on seven being enough.

“I’m not as concerned as others may be about this becoming a big talk-fest,” McQuade said. “I’m just hopeful we get enough out of all the analysts there because they are so respectful of each other’s opinions that they don’t want to talk over each other, because they’re so respectful of the process. We’ve already tried something like this on smaller scales and it’s surprising that not once have the guys talked over each other in a three-hour window even if they’re in different parts of the park, not together.

“As long as each of them have a very specific thing to focus on, it’ll just be up to Karl and the producer to bring all those voices in. I think we’ve done our due diligence to make sure all their areas of expertise aren’t the same.”

Glanville may be in the most interesting position in casting a light on what it’s like to be in right field during the twilight hour at Dodger Stadium, describing what Yasiel Puig will have to contend with as he fights the sun to follow the flight of the ball.

All the while, the right-field pavilion continues to provide the all-you-can-eat service throughout the game.

“It’s probably good that Kruk has the weekend off,” said McQuade.

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Where the heck is … I know it put it somewhere ….

Technical-DifficultiesSorry, but for those who have asked: Used up some vacation time, so no media column last week. The Monday Play It Forward that often appears on the blog has just been online and in print the last couple of weeks.
In the process of ramping up a media column for this week, but also have the upcoming weekend off as well.
Perhaps things will be more clear in June.
Twitter account still cranking out material/links/etc.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

 

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Weekly media column version 05.16.14: How to dissect Dr. Robert Klapper beyond his weekend warriors at 710-AM

Dr. Robert Klapper has taken the Saturday morning "Weekend Warrior" show to must-listen status on KSPN-AM (710). (Photo courtesy of KSPN)

Dr. Robert Klapper has taken the Saturday morning “Weekend Warrior” show to must-listen status on KSPN-AM (710). (Photo courtesy of KSPN)

What made it into this week’s column (now posted):

Dr. Robert Klapper is in.
klapper1-231x300His Saturday morning “Weekend Warrior” show on KSPN-AM (710) has evolved into much more of a place for the Cedars Sinai orthopedic surgeon to explain why your knee is jerking again after hearing the latest on Kobe Bryant’s recovery from his own knee issues. Klapper, who has more than 10,000 followers on Twitter, works his outstanding bedside manners to take this show to a level that has got TV execs now wanting a piece of it.
We’ve also got notes on the HBO “Boxing After Dark” card that’s coming back to the Forum in Inglewood and the new format for Indy 500 qualifying that gives ABC two days of time trials this weekend, with new IRL broadcaster Allen Bestwick describing it

What could have but will have to be satisfied in being classified as blog material: Continue reading

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More on Kareem as the center of attention on an HBO doc project: Part of Cap’s media rehab process?

Getty Images

Getty Images

They’ve got a working title for a new HBO Sports-driven  documentary on the life and times of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, targeting a launch around the 2015 NBA All-Star game in New York.

How does “Kareem: A Minority Of One” sound?

“To me, that says a lot, because I know the impression of him is this lone wolf — but he’s really a gregarious, affable, social guy,” said Mike Tollin, the sports TV and movie exec who will serve as executive producer for the project through the Studio City-based Mandalay Sports Media.

Which is the company he co-founded with Peter Guber. Who is one of the Dodgers minority owners, and must be aware that Kareem, with his Brooklyn Dodgers cap, frequents the owners box at Dodgers Stadium hanging out with Magic Johnson.

It’s not that complicated, right?

abdul-jabbar-608Tollin said he understands that Abdul-Jabbar has had a less-then-affable relationship with the media during a basketball career that spans a three-time national college player of the year run at UCLA (1966-’69) and five NBA championships during his 14 years with the Lakers (1975-89).

Can this doc be part of his media rehabilitation process?

“I think I’m like a lot of people who have an impression of him based on nothing, and I can take a fresh look at this,” said Tollin, who had only briefly met Abdul-Jabbar prior to this project that has already began filming. “The challenge is always to tell the story that people think they know and then have a version which they had no idea about. The plan is to make this far-reaching and free-wheeling – jazz, literature, politics, yoga, martial arts, baseball. He’s in a pretty comfortable place in his life. I hope this will open a lot of eyes.”

Tollin’s resume includes an Oscar-winning documentary on Hank Aaron, as well as the former HBO series “Arli$$” and sports-related feature films “Coach Carter,” “Radio” and “Varsity Blues.”

HBO Sports president Ken Hershman said in a press release: “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a legendary figure and an American sports icon. While he has lived so much of his life in the media spotlight, his extraordinary story has never been explored in depth, and we are grateful to Kareem and his team for allowing us to bring this story to life.”

51x5hVGCa6L._SY300_Part of Kareem’s “team” includes Deborah Morales, the Manhattan Beach-based rep for him who acts as the producer of the project through her Iconomy Multi-Media & Entertainment company. She was involved with him during the making of the 2011 documentary “On the Shoulders of Giants.”

Abdul-Jabbar, who has a writing and acting credit for “Shoulders,” has been recently outspoken about the Donald Sterling matter in a Time magazine opinion piece. The magazine has given him plenty of room to share his views recently.

Apparently HBO is also fine with Abdul-Jabbar despite his recent review of the network’s show “Girls.” Just all part of that complex media persona.

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