What’s on target for Sunday:
Last summer, when word got out that a documentary was launched on the life and times of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, we had some skepticism that the former UCLA and Lakers star — perhaps the greatest to ever play basketball — to be toying with us again.
We had our own personal confrontations with him, as a media member. We respect his intelligence, but didn’t really understand why he always acted like “Mr. Grump.”
Those, actually, are the words he uses to describe himself in the new 90-minute documentary, “Kareem: Minority Of One,” which HBO debuts on Tuesday at 10 p.m.
Steve Springer, the former L.A. Times’ Lakers beat writer, explains in the piece that to most, Abdul-Jabbar was “aloof, shy, he didn’t feel comfortable in the environment other players did.”
Abdul-Jabbar himself says: “I was typecast as the brooding black guy. I think it had a lot to do in the era we were raised in. I had to tow a certain line and not be too controversial or too much my own man.”
Those kind of revelations, such as they are, make up most of the documentary’s framework. Or, as Abdul-Jabbar says in a story this week with Newsday: “I figured that there are a whole lot of questions about my life that really everybody is still in the dark about. I didn’t want to go to my grave as a mystery man. …
“Sometimes people would question me as to my motives, and not speaking about it publicly really just maintained the mystery. So I wanted to clear the air on so many of the instances that people bring up when they talk about my life.”
So there we are. We’ll give more of our take on the whole thing.
What’s worth putting out at this point of the week:
== It’s more than just to prove Vin Scully is alive and well as SportsNet LA has Alanna Rizzo does an interview with the 87-year-old Hall of Famer at the Woodland Hills Country Club that will air on “Access SportsNet” at 7 p.m. tonight, with a second part airing Monday. A clip at this link.
(A fashion question: Is it OK to go without socks in October?)
== If you’re apt to donate money to a good cause, there’s a chance to have a private lunch with Scully and former Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter, to benefit Stillpoint Family Resources founded by Porter’s son, Dr. Ross Porter.
The lunch is tentatively scheduled for February, 2016 at a private residence in Calabasas. Bids start at $1,000 and go up by $250. They can be placed by contacting Jenni Porter at (818) 518-6973, or email her at email@example.com.
More information here.
== Dodgers radio/TV play-by-play man Charley Steiner decided he needed to post something about the cutbacks at ESPN that affected many long-time friends. That came with more analysis from BusinessInsider.com as to why this “cut to the bone” even had to take place.
Speaking at a sports media and technology conference in New York on Wednesday, ESPN president John Skipper said the company has been assigned with “false narratives” in regards to why cuts were made. “We do not have a narrative problem,” he said in a Sports Business Daily story. “We don’t have a narrative of declining usage at ESPN, and we are not retrenching. We are adding viewers on other platforms to supplement our performance on TV. What we have is an internal narrative of continued dramatic success.”
== As a follow up to The Players Tribune, an athlete-driven media platform that we profiled near its one-year anniversary earlier this month: The organization announced this week that the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant has made a “significant financial investment” during its latest round of funding.
“I asked Kobe to get involved from the beginning and contribute content,” publisher and former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter told Forbes.com. “And later, after having a full understanding of what we were doing, he wanted to get more involved in the business. Besides being a phenomenal athlete, mentor and leader on the court, he’s a respected voice and figure in the global sports community. He’s a great connector, a savvy businessman, and a successful investor. Who wouldn’t want him on their team?”
Bryant, who has the title of “editorial director” and has made several contributions to the site, added in a release: “There are three areas that pique my interest: media, technology and storytelling. The Players’ Tribune is the perfect intersection of those personal passions. Through my investment company, we look to help grow media and tech companies that challenge their industries. The Players’ Tribune disrupted the status quo by giving a platform to athletes.”
Bryant tweeted out after the announcement: “Proud 2 join the
@playerstribune team to help athletes discover the power of storytelling & owning your voice. #AthleteVoice #VoiceoftheGame”
== Our piece earlier on the departure of Time Warner Cable Sports chief David Rone.
== As USC prepares for its trip to Berkley to face Cal in the annual Joe Roth Memorial Game, take a moment to set the DVR for the documentary “Don’t Quit: The Joe Roth Story” that the Pac-12 Network re-airs on its main channel Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
It premiered earlier this week on the Pac-12 L.A. and Bay Area channels. The trailer above is just a very small taste.
The film about the late Bears quarterback made by Cal grads Phil Schaaf and Bob Rider is hardly polished or flashy in its presentation. In fact, it’s a lot like Roth, who died of cancer in February, 1977 just before his 22nd birthday, and before he was to graduate.
At one point near the end of the doc, narrator Keith Jackson, the former ABC college football play-by-play legend, says:
“Joe Roth was a rarity. A person who led by example without seeking recognition. He competed honorably. He lived virtuously. A life that was remarkable and a legacy indelible.”
That pretty much all you need to know.
In the history of USC vs. Cal — 102 games, as it will be this week — Roth certainly made his mark.
In 1975, the junior engineered a 28-14 win over the 7-0 Trojans, ranked fourth in the nation and the defending national champions under coach John McKay. USC’s 18-game unbeaten streak also came to an end against a 4-3 Cal team that featured running back Chuck Muncie and receiver Wesley Walker.
Roth also faced USC at the Coliseum as a senior — Oct. 30, 1976 — but by that time, the melanoma he was battling had returned and began to take its toll. USC, under head coach John Robinson, won that game, 20-6. Paul Hackett, who had been the Cal offensive coordinator with Roth, was then on the USC sideline.
Then in 1977, the first Joe Roth Memorial Game was played, as Roth died in February of that year. Cal won it, 17-14, against No. 10 USC, which had been 5-2 and undefeated in conference with tailback Charles White.
Saturday’s game will include a 40-year reunion for the Cal players of that 1975 team.
Among those interviewed for this doc are former Cal head coach Mike White, assistant Hackett, former UCLA head coach Dick Vermeil, former Cal and Nebraska quarterback (and former Banning High star) Vince Ferragamo, former USC defensive lineman Gary Jeter, and, most poignantly, former Minnesota quarterback Tony Dungy, who met him playing at several post-season All-Star games.
A story on the doc by Sam Whitting of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that filmmmakers Schaaf and Rider were fortunate to get four critical people on camera to do this piece before they passed away: Roth’s mother, Lena; his sister-in-law Kim, his teammate Muncie, and former Michigan quarterback Rob Lytle, who met Roth at 1976 pre-season All-American photo shoot.
Another excellent piece on the doc is written by Martin Snapp of the Cal Alumni Association webstite.
“Don’t Quit: The Joe Roth Story” is also available on DVD at the official website.
== Another college football-related documentary to put on DVR alert: ESPN’s “The Gospel According to Mac” (Tuesday, 6 p.m., ESPN) has producer Jonathan Hock and director Jim Podhoretz probing former Colorado coach Bill McCartney and how he founded the men’s Christian group called Promise Keepers. Hock and Podhoretz previously collaborated on ESPN’s “Survive and Advance” on Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State national championship basketball team.
== As long as we’re on this sports doc riff: NBC Sports started a short-form feature contest “open to filmmakers of all levels who aspire to follow NBC Sports’ Emmy Award-winning storytelling heritage.” There’s a $10,000 prize and a promise to air the winning submission on NBCSN for winning the “CPTR’D: project.
Films running 10 minutes or less on any sports topic are to be submitted from Nov. 9 to Jan. 12, 2016. Five finalists will be picked. More information: www.cptrdcontest.com
== How Week 9 of the college football season fits into the L.A. scope:
= Fox’s Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Molly McGrath are back on the USC beat, calling the Trojans’ game at Cal (Saturday, Channel 11, noon). At least Johnson won’t have to keep referring to the game as being played “in South Central” as he harped on much of last Saturday. Fox, incidentally, had its highest-rated college football game of the season — 2.1 — for that USC-Utah contest. L.A. had a 6.3 rating; Utah did a 16.4.
= The Pac-12 Network has Roxy Bernstein, Glenn Parker and Jill Savage for UCLA’s first appearance on the network, the homecoming game against Colorado (Saturday, noon). The UCLA is also scheduled to be on the Pac-12 Network for its Week 10 game at Oregon State (a 1:30 p.m. telecast).
And since you asked: Yes, it continues to make little sense for the Pac-12 to allow games played by USC and UCLA to go head-to-head for TV viewers.
What’s the benefit for a Southern California college football fan?
What’s the benefit to the Pac-12 nationally if it’s trying to promote both of its L.A.-based schools and forces viewers to choose or, worse, keep flipping back and forth?
It’s not the first time — a couple have gone head-to-head while both were at home this season — but it should be something to considering ending when it comes to how ABC/ESPN, Fox and the Pac-12 Networks work out their schedules in the future.
The future also being: The rest of this season.
= ESPN’s 300th trip on “College GameDay” goes to Independence Hall in Philadelphia prior to Temple, ranked No. 21 at 7-0, playing host to No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1).
= ABC has that Notre Dame-Temple contest from Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Eagles) at 5 p.m. Saturday, Channel 7, with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Heather Cox. Other ABC games on Saturday: Syracuse-Florida State (9 a.m., Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Todd McShay) and Maryland-Iowa (12:30 p.m., Adam Amin, Kelly Stouffer, Olivia Harlan).
= ESPN grabs Stanford-Washington State (7:30 p.m., Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Shannon Spake) after carrying Ole Miss-Auburn (9 a.m., Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Tom Luginbill), Oklahoma State-Texas Tech (12:30 p.m., Dave Lamont, Ray Bentley, Dawn Davenport) and Michigan-Minnesota (4 p.m., Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe).
= CBS predictably has Georgia-Florida from Jacksonville (12:30 p.m., Channel 2, Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson). Please, no mention of giant cocktail parties.
= The Pac-12 Network gets Oregon State at Utah (4 p.m., Kevin Calabro, Yogi Roth, Lewis Johnson) after FS1 took Arizona at Washington (8 p.m., Jon Anik, Petros Papadakis) and ESPN already committed to Oregon at Arizona State (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Joe Tessitore, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack, Kaylee Hartung).
Starting a mid-week game at 7:30 p.m. for ESPN apparently makes more sense than having USC or UCLA trying to have a home Thursday game at 6 p.m. at the network’s request?
= The SEC Network takes Tennessee-Kentucky (4:30 p.m., Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Maria Taylor)
= The best of the rest: Thursday — North Carolina-Pitt (4 p.m., Adam Amin, Kelly Stouffer, Marty Smith). Saturday — Oklahoma-Kansas (FS1, 12:30 p.m., Joe Davis, Brady Quinn), San Diego State-Colorado State (CBSSN, 12:30 p.m, Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor) followed by Tulane-Memphis (4 p.m., Dave Ryan, Jay Feely) and Air Force-Hawaii (7:30 p.m., Rich Waltz, Adam Archuleta), Miami-Duke (ESPNU, 1 p.m., Allen Bestwick, Dan Hawkins), Illinois-Penn State (ESPN2, 9 a.m., Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Paul Carcaterra), Clemson-North Carolina State (ESPN2, 12:30 p.m., Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Jerry Punch).
== The way the NFL’s Week 8 plays out for L.A. audiences:
= Miami-New England is the last CBS game for the Thursday night package (5:25 p.m., also on NFL Network, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms).
= CBS’ single game will be force-fed San Diego at Baltimore (10 a.m., Channel 2, Greg Gumbel and Trent Green) meaning no access to 6-0 Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, going to more than 75 percent of the country), Tennessee-Houston or N.Y. Jets-Oakland.
= Detroit-Kansas City provides an extra Fox game from Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday morning (6:30 a.m., Channel 11, Sam Rosen and John Lynch). Since this weekend is also where Fox gets two games on Sunday — starting with N.Y. Giants-New Orleans (10 a.m., Channel 11, Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston) and capping with Seattle-Dallas to the entire country (1:25 p.m., Channel 11, Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman) — it’s a rare triple header for the network. Note: One of the Fox regionals this weekend that won’t be in L.A. is Arizona-Cleveland, which features Matt “Money” Smith doing play-by-play with former NFL tight end Chris Cooley.
= NBC gets the plum of the week with 6-0 Green Bay at 6-0 Denver (5:30 p.m., Channel 4, with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth).
= ESPN’s Monday Night affair has 6-0 Carolina hosting Indianapolis (5:30 p.m., with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden).
== From where we sat up in bed trying to capture some of last Sunday morning’s Buffalo-Jacksonville game on Yahoo.com, there were minimal issues with quality of the CBS-produced broadcast after having a little struggle trying to access the game from either the website of the Yahoo app. That was likely more an Internet issue than a production problem.
There were numbers reported on the “success” of the experiment — 33.6 million “streams” and 15.2 million unique visitors. But then Peter King on MMQB.com took some research done by Sports Business Journal that pointed out how that data was overhyped and added another take on it: “I still believe it was a success, but I do think the NFL and Yahoo should have leveled with consumers regarding the real numbers of how many people watched the game.”
== ESPN2 has the New York City Marathon (6 a.m., Sunday), as the pursuit of 40-year-old Meb Keflezighi’s attempt to set a U.S. Masters Marathon record provides one of the subtexts.
On that trail: Lamemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills (9036 Wilshire Blvd.) has Keflzighi’s legendary UCLA coach, Bob Larsen, for a Q&A on Tuesday and Wednesday following the 7 p.m. screening of the new documentary about him called “City Slickers Can’t Stay With Me.” The documentary profiles Larsen winning two NCAA titles at UCLA in the late ’80s and focuses on his training methods at Mammoth Lakes with Keflzighi. More info on the film at this link.
== NBC’s Breeders’ Cup coverage from Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., has all of Friday’s races on NBCSN from noon to 3 p.m. and then the Saturday morning events on NBCSN from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.. The Classic goes to NBC (Channel 4, 1-3 p.m.) with Tom Hammond, Randy Moss, Jerry Bailey, Laffit Pincay III, Kenny Rice, Nick Luck, Jay Privman, Donna Brothers, Carolyn Manno, Bob Neumeier, Eddie Olczyk and Larry Collmus.
== Leading into the Breeders’ Cup: The New Zealand-Australia Rugby World Cup final live from Twickenham Stadium in London (9-11:30 a.m. with Bill Seward and Brian Hightower) and taped coverage of the recent World Gymnastics Championships from Glasgow, Scotland (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) with Al Trautwig, Tim Daggett and Nastia Liukin. More taped coverage airs Sunday on NBC from 9-11:30 a.m.
== We all survived the power outage in Game 1 of Fox’s World Series coverage — which led to the fortuitous arrival of Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz calling an inning while the connections were worked on.
We all were left confused whether the media had the information correct about the passing of Edinson Volquez’ father before Volquez took the mound for the Royals, and we still aren’t sure what was the right to go here.
“It’s a good journalism conversation,” Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal said in the aftermath, and why he advised against the Fox broadcast crew from mentioning it on the air as the game started.
Dan Levy on AwfulAnnouncing.com does a great job at laying out the pros and cons as well.
We expect the series to pick up all kinds of media momentum heading to New York for Games 3-5 this weekend. Game 5, of course, if necessary.
Fox is reporting a 9.3 overnight rating for Game 2, meaning the network has the best two-game World Series average since 2010, which isn’t really setting the bar too high.
Add to that: As polished as Alex Rodriguez may be in the pre-game, and now getting snuck into the braodcast booth, he shouldn’t be the story during the post-season.
But in the meantime, maybe most fitting about the network’s coverage of the Fall Classic is from this tweet:
Who wore it better? pic.twitter.com/KX6UpBBExA
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 27, 2015
== It is heartening to see that, as Kia continues to employ Blake Griffin as a car salesmen, it assumes consumers will find it cutting edge that the Clippers star does continue to read a newspaper. Even if it’s only a prop.