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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Play It Forward: May 12-18 on your sports calendar — Better Duck, there’s a Royal feast taking place


d12f4f10-d616-11e3-87d1-a1fee1a2173b_BnDMbBbCYAANMtcNHL PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
Details/TV: Honda Center, Monday at 7 p.m., NBCSN:
ce63b860-d789-11e3-8da1-8190fa7d3c85_fdggdfgFrench chef Ludo Lefebvre was shown on the Staples Center scoreboard preparing roast duck during the first intermission of the Kings’ eventual 2-0 Game 4 loss to Anaheim. That followed up from another videoboard demonstration during Game 3 where celeb Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis, wearing a Kings jersey, demonstrated the best way to prep “Anaheim Duck Soup” in her kitchen. “I always use Anaheim Duck because they’re slow, they’re lazy and they have thin skin,” she said. The Kings were cooked in that game as well – a 3-2 loss. As the series builds toward a boiling point with a return to the O.C., we can’t help but also recall seeing some strange “Go Kings Go” billboards popping up in the 714 area coach, one of them with a large black dog holding a dead duck in its mouth. Whatever keeps fans salivating for more.
The series concludes (times updated Monday morning):
Game 6: Wednesday at Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., NBCSN
Game 7: Friday at Honda Center, 6 p.m., NBCSN

Details/TV: Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., TNT:

thunder-super-fansThe thundering noise that can erupt at Chesapeake Energy Arena creates  one of the better home-court advantages for Oklahoma City in the NBA – the team had a 34-7 mark there in the regular season, matching the Clippers for best record on the home floor. But according to TheLostOgle.com, two rather notorious Thunder fans are making noise for themselves in a ruthless kind of way. Garrett “Thundor” Haviland, who shows up shirtless with a cape and mask, and Nauzi “Thunder Princess” Jagosh, with her blue and orange tutu, tiara and ruby red shoes, have parked themselves in the pricey Section 101. But they’ve now taken to a public funding website to raise $10,000 so they can get their season seats renewed for 2014-’15. So far, they’re at $851. But not everyone is buying in. “I sat next to this annoying a$$hole one time,” said one fan. “Never again. He ruined the game and entire experience. Jerk!” See how much of an impact they do or don’t have when this series returns to OKC, where the teams split their first two games of this series.
The series concludes:
Game 6: Thursday at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 7: Sunday at Oklahoma City, time TBA, TNT

BEST OF THE REST Continue reading

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Weekly media column version 05.09.14 — Anson Carter’s dreadlocks may be gone, but his TV career has locked on NBC’s NHL coverage

Anson Carter  sails across the net in front of Calgary Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff and Flames' Denis Gauthier during a March, 2004 Kings game in Calgary.  (AP Photo/Jeff McIntosh)

Anson Carter sails across the net in front of Calgary Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff and Flames’ Denis Gauthier during a March, 2004 Kings game in Calgary. (AP Photo/Jeff McIntosh)

What made it into the online version posted this evening:

vstyrtto Anson Carter’s 15 games of not-much fame with the Kings came 10 years ago, as the team picked up the veteran right winger at the trade deadline to help with its push toward a post-season spot.
Not only did the Kings come up short — they ended the season on an 11-game losing streak — but Carter had just one assist total during his stint, slowed by a bad shoulder and sports hernia. He was gone the next year — to score 33 goals on the Sedin brothers line in Vancouver.
But L.A., or more specifically Marina del Rey, where he kept an off-season home, never left him.
As an NBC Sports Net studio analyst on the NHL during these playoffs, particularly visible trading opinions with Jeremy Roenick during intermission breaks in the Kings-Ducks Western Conference semifinal series, Carter’s experience from an 11-year NHL career (1996-2007) has given him more confidence to approach a burgeoning TV career.
Carter, the booth analyst with Dave Strader (above) during the Kings-Ducks outdoor game at Dodger Stadium last January, talks to us about that and his continued work in the entertainment business in this week’s feature. Also, we have more on ESPN’s coverage of the WBC heavyweight championship fight from USC’s Galen Center on Saturday, DirecTV’s latest blast on the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. negotiations, and wondering if L.A. will get up early enough Sunday to follow the final day of the Premiere League 10-channel coverage.

What didn’t quite make it but is worth posting here:

== Trivia question: Who scored the first NHL goal in Staples Center history? Anson Carter, on Oct. 20, 1999, as a member of the Boston Bruins. The game against the Kings ended in a 2-2 tie.

== Carter returns to the NHL studio show in Sunday after working on the NBCSN coverage of the IIHF World Championships this weekend. U.S. takes on Belarus on Saturday (10:30 a.m.) and Switzerland on Sunday (10:30 a.m.). Continue reading

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Play It Forward: May 5-11 on your sports calendar: A manic Cinco de Monday for Kings, Ducks, Clippers, Angels, Dodgers and those trying to follow it all


Kings goalie Jonathan Quick skates during warm ups before Game 1 against the Ducks on Saturday in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick skates during warm ups before Game 1 against the Ducks on Saturday in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Honda Center, Monday at 7 p.m., NBC Sports Net:
You may have read about what’s on the line for this series, as the mayors of L.A. and Anaheim put up one of those “friendly wagers” before the opening puck dropped in the Kings’ 3-2 overtime Game 1 win. L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti said if the Ducks win the series, he’ll give a lesson in music appreciation to the Guinn Elementary School in Anaheim.

A Kings fan goes through a security check before entering Saturday's Game 1 between the Kings and Ducks at the Honda Center in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

A Kings fan goes through a security check before entering Saturday’s Game 1 between the Kings and Ducks at the Honda Center in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

If the Kings win to advance to the conference finals, Anaheim mayor Tom Tait promises to come to the L.A. River Clean Up Day. Assuming there’s enough water in the river bed to actually help with the clean-up process. Throw in a couple extra healthy defensemen for the Western Conference finals, and it’s a deal. Actually, that was a much classier approach than what transpired a year ago, when the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings faced the Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel was so confident that he put up 25 Italian beef sandwiches from Al’s Italian Beef, three cases of Goose Island’s 312 Lager beer, one case of Robinson’s Ribs Barbecue Sauce, 25 slices of Eli’s Cheesecake and one copy of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” so that Antonio Villaraigosa could have something to read “in his forthcoming retirement.” Then-L.A. mayor Villaraigosa could have looked the other way, but he tried to match that by offering nine #19 Pastrami Sandwiches from Langer’s Deli, nine French Dip Sandwiches from Phillippe’s, a case of Morehouse Mustard, a case of beer from Golden Road and Eagle Rock breweries, three Hollenbeck Burritos from El Tepeyac Cafe, 12 bottles of Sriracha Chili Sauce and a DVD copy of “YogaWorks for Everybody” so Emanuel could “maintain” his “newfound inner peace.” And you know who got the best piece of that heart-burn proposition. Today should be the day when you bet a friend he can’t go down to Homegirl Cafe in L.A. and eat a half-dozen red mole chicken tacos in one sitting to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
The series continues this week:
Game 3 at Staples Center, Thursday at 7 p.m., NBC Sports Net
Game 4 at Staples Center, Saturday, to be announced

cinco-de-mayo-t-shirt-bustedtees-2THIS WEEK’S BEST BET II:

Monday at 6:30 p.m., TNT:
You can thank Donald Sterling for Kevin Durant’s inability to soak up the accolades of the 2014 NBA MVP award by now. Because of the Sterling scandal that erupted some 10 days ago, leading to a lifetime ban and fine for the Clippers owner, the league decided it wasn’t appropriate to start handing out its annual individual honors and pushed it back a week. That could have led to an uncomfortable scenario – had the Thunder failed to pull out a Game 7 win against Memphis last weekend and lose their first-round series, there would have been Durant, dubbed “Mr. Unreliable” by the Oklahoman newspaper for his performance up to that point, answering awkward questions as his press conference. Instead, Oklahomans will get to likely hear the news of Durant’s honor on Tuesday and have him available for a round of applause by the locals before Wednesday’s Game 3. Durant average 32.8 points in four games against the Clippers during the regular season. The teams split the four games, and won one game on the other’s home court as well. The last meeting was less than a month ago: April 9 at Staples Center, when OKC got 30 points from Russell Westbrook in a 107-101 win. The Clippers rallied from 15 down in the fourth quarter to cut it to one, but Blake Griffin (30 points, 12 rebounds)  missed two key free throws down the stretch.
The series continues:
Game 2: Wednesday at Oklahoma City, 6:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3: Friday at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4: Sunday at Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7


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Weekly media column version 05.02.14 — A Sterling performance by the ‘new’ media, with TMZ (too much zeal) behind it

DonSterlingAndGFWhat’s in this week’s media column (linked here):
The mainstream media reporting for years on Donald Sterling’s attitudes toward minorities couldn’t have been more detailed. So why the reaction now to an audio tape with perhaps dubious connections? We’re trying to make sense of that in this week’s media column.
Also more on the Clippers’ TV ratings during the playoffs since the story broke, could the Clippers fit well into the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. programming some day, why would the WNBA Sparks’ new ownership (Magic, that’s you) decide to drop Larry Burnett as the play-by-play man for TWC SportsNet just a couple weeks before the season starts, and how NBC plans to cover the Kentucky Derby with Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir riding shotgun.

What could have but will have to learn to live here: Continue reading

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