Weekly media notes version 03.17.16: Drop that Irish green flag on NASCAR for us and we’ll head to O’Reilly Auto Parts for a quart of synthetic, thanks

An actress named Kate del Castillo got to throw the green flag to start the Auto Club 400 in 2013. If you have seen or heard from her lately, authorities are standing by. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Actress Kate del Castillo (the one who got Sean Penn hooked up with El Chapo) got to throw the green flag to start the Auto Club 400 in 2013. If you have seen or heard from her lately (check Diane Sawyer on “20/20”) authorities are standing by. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

What the plan is for Sunday:

Zoom, zoom.
The madness of March and the on-ramp to the MLB season, the NBA playoffs and the Stanley Cup playoffs… and we’ve hooked our rig to the NASCAR Sprint Cup, returning to Fontana this weekend on FS1, FS2 and Fox.
Trust us. It’s going to work. Somehow.
The bare essentials: Fox has Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon and Darrell Waltrip (we listed those two analysts in order of importance) and Larry McReynolds somehow still in the mix for the Auto Club 400 (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11). Jamie Little, Chris Neville and Matt Yocum are in the pits, and no rain predicted.
Chris Myers has the pre-race show (Sunday, noon) with Gordon, Waltrip and Michael Waltrip. “NASCAR Raceday” at 10:30 a.m. on FS2 has John Roberts hosting with Jeff Hammond, Wally Dallenbach, Kaitlyn Vincie and Kenny Wallace. The features include a look at “drivers’ media blitzes in the Los Angeles market,” such as Ryan Blaney and Darrell Wallace Jr. attending Thursday’s “American Idol.”
Qualifying is Friday (4:30 p.m., FS1). The cable channel also has practice at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday at 8 a.m. (FS2) and 11:30 a.m.
The Xfinity Series NXS 300 goes Saturday at 1 p.m. (FS1, with Adam Alexander on the call, analyst Michael Waltrip and guest analyst and defending Auto Club 400 winner Brad Keselowski). Practice is Friday at noon and 2:30 pm.. (FS1) with qualifying Saturday at 9 a.m. (FS1). The “Raceday-Xfinity” show at 12:30 p.m. (FS1) has Danielle Trotta hosting with McReynolds, Kenny Wallace and reporter Neville.

What’s worth posting here and now:

fox_sports1_au.large== And speaking of FS1: Yes, there are changes going on there as the cable channel rebranded in Aug., 2013 with much too much fanfare (really, Regis Philbin?) has been going through too many public growing pains.
logos(And three logos over this period of time?)
The latest round of layoffs and cutbacks are written about here and there, and we’ve not really wanted to expose too much about what we’re hearing until more dust settles and the ranting subsides as we get a clearer picture on what’s happening at the L.A.-based facility.
We already know about the “reformatted” “Fox Sports Live with Jay and Dan” that “strays from the traditional highlight shows” (as per the weekly press release). If the Canadians can do the news like Scott Van Pelt at ESPN, more power to ’em, eh?
Meanwhile, we know of several people who’ve been part of the latest purge — and even read about Tony Siragusa on the outs at network Fox NFL coverage.
None of this is easy or fun. Stay tuned.

== Didn’t current Fox employ Erin Andrews look like $55 million bucks during her appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Wednesday night?

== Why was someone named Joy Taylor sitting in for Kristine Leahy on “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” today and coming back Friday? Not that we heard anything but Taylor, the younger sister of former Dolphins star Jason Taylor and a Miami radio co-host, has already been a joy to hear in this fill-in spot. If there’s one reason why our ears have been diverted away from Cowherd’s show so far on FS1 …

Actor Adam DeVine watches a Clippers game at Staples Center against Oklahoma City on March 2. We suspect he doesn't listen to games on the radio. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

If actor Adam DeVine were to listen to a Clippers game (instead of showing up at this one against OKC on March 2), he’d have to find 570 on the AM dial starting Saturday.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

== Today the Clippers, next the Rams?
The announcement Wednesday night the Clippers figured out a deal with KLAC (570 AM) and iHeartRadio to carry the rest of their games for this season, including the playoffs, is probably the best fit since the Clippers’ former flagship station, KMPC (980 AM) was sold and abandoned the all-sports format, switching to Southeast Asian/Indian/Bollywood music.
Senior VP of Sports Los Angeles/KLAC Don Martin told us several weeks ago that if the numbers matched up, the iHeartRadio family of stations would be willing to add the Clippers on — especially with UCLA basketball done for the season. The Dodgers would provide the most conflicts going forward, but the Clippers know they’ll likely be moved over to KEIB (AM 1150) when those happen.
The first Clippers game on KLAC will be Saturday in Memphis, followed by Sunday in New Orleans and next Wednesday at Golden State.
Adding the Clippers to the KLAC home of the Dodgers and UCLA only makes it more attractive for the Rams to eventually add an iHeartRadio station to their media platforms once that decision is to be made.
On the FM side — where most NFL teams have a sister station to carry games in stereo — the best IHeartRadio options in L.A. are alternative rock Alt 987, hip-hop Power 106  and Real 92.3, or  classic rock 105.5 KLOS, as well as several Spanish-language stations.

Chino Hills' LaMelo Ball drives against Santa Margarita High in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs back on Feb. 19. Chino Hills won 100-66. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

Chino Hills’ LaMelo Ball drives against Santa Margarita High in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs back on Feb. 19. Chino Hills won 100-66. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

== A week out from the CIF state basketball championships in Sacramento and TWC SportsNet as well as TWC Community channel and the website locked down the major Southern California Regional finals at the Long Beach State Pyramid.
Steve Quis and Casey Jacobsen have the call on the Chino Hills’ road show as it puts its 32-0 record again with 28-2 Bishop Montgomery for the boys Open Division title game (Saturday, 8:30 p.m.) on TWC Community and livestream. The winner moves to the March 26 state title.
Note: There will also be a replay of this one at 10:30 p.m. on TWC SportsNet (which is committed to the MLS Galaxy game against San Jose from 7:30-to-9:30 p.m., plus the Galaxy “Access” postgame).
TWC SportsNet can otherwise commit to the boys Division I final between Redondo and Crespi (3 p.m.), girls Division final final between Brea Olinda and Vista Murrietta (1 p.m.), boys Division II final between Long Beach Poly and JW North (11 a.m.) and girls Division II final between Mater Dei and Cajon (9 a.m.).
The girls Open Division final between Chaminade and Long Beach Poly is only on TWC Community and live stream tipping off at 5 p.m.
Quis and Jacobsen also have the call on the girls Open and boys Division I championships. Dan Hellie and Tracy Warren have the girls Division I and II and boys Division II.

076d6680-e96f-11e5-8240-ddb10e736534_bracket== It seems almost like a month ago now when CBS finally finished its reveal of the men’s NCAA Tournament bracket in the two-hour Sunday show that a) no one seemed to be pleased with and b) even more were upset/elated that someone leaked a bracket over Twitter.
Upset, at the NCAA offices. Elated, everyone trying to stay patient while watching Charley Barkley trying to mess with a touchscreen (he apparently didn’t make it to rehersal?).
A follow up by the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir, which referenced our Sunday piece that previewed CBS Sports Sean McManus explaining why it was expanding the show, noted that “executives of CBS and Turner refused to comment on Monday, apparently uninterested in suppressing the uproar among college basketball fans.”
Having the Barkley situation was annoying enough (c’mon, play along with Ernie Johnson about whether Fairleigh Dickinson is named after one or two people?)
But dragging out the regions, then having more analysis in between, felt more like a four-corner stall. This day in age calls for immediate need for information. Had it been back to a one-hour show, the draws would have been up in the first half hour and the rest was left for analysis. This time, it dragged past the full-hour mark before it was complete, and by then, the Twitter leak had occurred.
The result was a 3.7 overnight rating for the show, its lowest in 20 years.
Live and learn. We are at least thankful that we could provide some context about how it was supposed to happen versus what actually went down.
Anyone watch ESPN’s one-hour women’s tournament reveal last Monday as a comparison? Didn’t think so.
One for the road: Check out Sam Laird’s take on this at Mashable.com, where the person who leaked the bracket is referred to as “a Liam Neeson-level hero.”

Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner during the NCAA West Regional Final at Staples Center in 2015.

Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner during the NCAA West Regional Final at Staples Center in 2015.

== Kevin Harlan has the call, Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner are the analysts and Lewis Johnson on the sideline for the TBS carriage of USC-Providence in Thursday night’s opening round in Raleigh, N.C., of the NCAA Tournament East Regional (approx. 6:50 p.m.).
How punch drunk may this foursome be by the time the Trojans start the layup line?
About six hours earlier, they’ll call Texas Tech-Butler (9:40 a.m., truTV), then Virginia-Hampton (approx. 12:15 p.m., truTV), then North Carolina-Florida Gulf Coast (4:20 p.m., TBS). Bathroom breaks optional.
The Thursday coverage begins with Ian Eagle, Chris Webber, Len Elmore and Evan Washburn on Duke-N.C. Wilmington in Providence, R.I., at 9:15 a.m. on Channel 2. Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wilson are at the Des Moines site to start with Colorado-UConn at 10:30 a.m. on TNT. Then comes Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas and Jamie Erdahl in Denver beginning with Iowa State-Iona at 11 a.m.
Friday’s teams: Brian Anderson, Steve Smith and Dana Jacobson are in St. Louis launching Dayton-Syracuse at 9:15 a.m. on Channel 2; Verne Lundquist, Jim Sparnakel and Allie LaForce are in Brooklyn for the start of Villanova-UNC Ashville at 9:40 a.m. on truTV; Carter Blackburn, Mike Gminski and Jamie Maggio are in Oklahoma City for Oregon State-VCU at 10:30 a.m. on TNT and Spero Dedes, Doug Gottieb and Ros Gold-Onwude are in Spokane for Cal-Hawaii at 11 a.m. on TBS. Really, they needed to start a West Coast game before noon local time? It’s the very last window they have for the day, so, yes. But still …

== KCBS-Channel 2 will again use Cal State Northridge coach Reggie Theus as its in-studio analyst with Jim Hill throughout the tournament.

== WNBA Sparks star Candace Parker is the analyst (with Tiffany Greene on play-by-play) for UCLA’s first-round game at Pauley Pavilion against Hawaii (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2) in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. ESPN2 will have four games in that regional window but sends this one specific to the L.A. market.

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Play It Forward March 14-20: Keselowski comes back to surf Fontana as USC basketball heads to N.C.


Details/TV: At Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Brad Keselowski was pretty pumped up in Las Vegas recently, and it had nothing to do with any kind of wager he made at a casino on The Strip. All stripped down, the gamble he made that paid off was passing Kyle Busch with six laps to go, allowing him to cruise to a win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Turns out, that victory in the third event of the 2016 season was Keselowski’s first Sprint Cup triumph going all the way back to last March at Auto Club Speedway. “This is such a good feeling to be back in victory lane; it’s been way too long,” he said.
eb1a4c510e2b870d710f6a706700263fA year ago in Fontana, Busch, who started on the pole, assumed the lead with 11 laps to go after a restart. Jeff Gordon, in his last Auto Club Speedway appearance, slipped into the lead during a caution flag. But when they tried a green-white-checker flag finish, Busch zipped back to the head of the pack. But then came Keselowski – again. The Team Penske driver took the lead on Turn 2 of the final lap and held off both of the Steward-Haas teammates, Busch and Kevin Harvick. Keselowski, who started eighth,  said afterward that Harvick and Busch “had great cars the whole weekend and probably had the field covered on speed.” But maybe not on smarts. As it turned out, Busch won the Sprint Cup series championship eight months later at Homestead-Miami, with Harvick finishing second. Keselowski? Seventh.
Also this week at Auto Club Speedway:
= Fanfest and hauler parade: Thursday from 5-to-9 p.m. (beginning at Quakes Stadium in Rancho Cucamonga)
= Sprint Cup qualifying: Friday at 4:30 p.m., FS1. (Practice on Friday, 10:30 a.m., FS1 and Saturday, 8 a.m., FS2 and 11:30 a.m., FS1).
= X
finity Series NXS 300, Saturday at 1 p.m., FS1 (Practice on Friday, noon and 2:30 p.m., FS1; qualifying Saturday, 9 a.m., FS1)

Details/TV: At Raleigh, N.C., Thursday at approx. 6:50 p.m., TBS
Jacobs-leads-huddle-on-the-courtJMcG2No favors done here for the 21-12 Trojans. But don’t let that color your outlook. This season, we’ve seen USC wear four different colored jerseys: Basic white, bright gold, rich Cardinal and the occasional black – the latter of which they sported during their last loss to Utah in the Pac-12 Tournament. How will Nike suggest they dress up for the Big Dance? It might matter. The Elias Sports Bureau, working with NCAA sponsor LG, did some research on what teams wore a certain predominant color and how they did in the NCAA Tournament since it went to 64 teams in 1985. For example, of the 31 teams that have won the title, 23 wore blue. Fine for North Carolina, Duke or Kansas, not a great sign for USC. Red, however, was dominant for teams that have have the largest greatest points per game (79.2) and most assists (15.8). Black also won out for teams that had the largest average margin of victory (with a plus 11.1). The point here: If the Trojans go gold or white, it could be one-and-done. And don’t even consider green on St. Patrick’s Day instead?
The NCAA Tournament begins with “First Four” contests on Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio. The official first- and second-round games air on Channel 2, TBS, TNT and truTV starting Thursday and Friday, and continuing Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m.
Also: The 32-team NIT starts Tuesday and includes Long Beach State at home vs. Washington (6 pm., ESPn2). The 16-team College Basketball Invitational tournament  begin Tuesday (ESPNU). The 32-team CollegeInsider.com tournament begins Monday (CBSSN).


The Clippers start a five-game road trip in San Antonio, where the Spurs are 32-0 at home this season (Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) … The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells  has its women’s and men’s final on Sunday (11 a.m., ESPN) … UCLA finds out where it starts in the NCAA women’s tournament when the brackets are announced Monday (4 p.m., ESPN) … The Kings start the week in Chicago (Monday, 5 p.m., NBCSN) and are home against the N.Y. Rangers (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FSW) and Boston (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., FSW) …  More at this link.

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Sunday media: Time arrives for a two-hour NCAA Selection Show, and CBS has a full table


Mark it down as another shining moment in the evolution – if that’s the correct word – of modern televised sports.
Sunday, a college basketball studio show once intended to simply reveals the NCAA men’s tournament bracket has been expanded into in a two-hour window.
By the way, that’s about as long as it takes to actually play a college basketball game.
Frightening enough, this 2:30-to-4:30 p.m. allotment CBS has allowed for this could have expanded more if we weren’t reminded to stay tuned to their local stations for the next episode of “60 Minutes” (except for those on the West Coast).
For the last 20 years, 60 minutes was plenty of time for this pin-the-name-on-the-bracket exercise to function properly. When CBS first tried this out in 1982, it was merely a half hour, with James Brown in front of a bulletin board. It doubled to the hour in 2002.
It doubles down again this time because, as CBS Sports chief Sean McManus says, it should.
More at this link …

Greg Gumbel, left, is on the CBS Selection Sunday Show with Clark Kellogg, Seth Davis and Doug Gottlieb in 2015 (Photo/CBS)

Greg Gumbel, left, is on the CBS Selection Sunday Show with Clark Kellogg, Seth Davis and Doug Gottlieb in 2015. This year, they’ll add Turner’s Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. (Photo/CBS)


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Weekly media notes version 03.10.16 — Bracing for brackets, as CBS, Turner go all out from the get-go

Above: When the 2015 NCAA men’s tournament bracket came out, the JW Marriott in Indianapolis hung one out on the side of its building. Aside from being suspicious of any stay at a Marriott from now on, we’ll take this is an indication that the tournament is still building toward bigger things. Otherwise, go with #brackeTALLogy.

What’s on tap for Sunday:

We’re trying to fill out our NCAA Tournament bracket early.
bracket1(Anyone have a 3D printer? They had a version of the bracket last year on one of them new contraptions, and while we’re not sure it looked cool, it was such a perfect use of new technology gone sideways that we’re apt to see a 4D version this year. If that makes any sense).
We’ve targeted a few things related to how CBS/Turner will cover this year’s dance, starting with the bracket reveal in a two-hour show in Sunday (Channel 2, 2:30 p.m.) and heading into whatever they’re calling the first full day on Thursday and Friday, which we suspect will still involved USC, could still involve Long Beach State, but won’t include UCLA. It otherwise promises to be pretty wide open.

(Photo by John P. Filo/CBS)

(Photo by John P. Filo/CBS)

“It obviously helps to have a UCLA, with its heritage, or a USC, or going north, Stanford because you want a West Coast presence when so many of the games are played late in the evening,” CBS Sports chair Sean McManus told us Wednesday while in L.A. for network meetings. “But from a ratings standpoint, you don’t see as much of an impact in the L.A. market as you might a Big Ten market or SEC or Big 12. That has really not been a huge issue with us as far as having a Southern California presence.

“(With Louisville on NCAA probation and not able to participate), that’s a real loss for us and the tournament. I had dinner last night with the men’s committee chair Joe Castiglione (the Oklahoma athletic director) and next year’s chair Mark Hollis (the Michigan State AD) and they say they’ve never seen a situation where it’s this wide open as it is this season, and the bubble has never been bigger. There will be some controversy in who gets in, and that’s never a bad thing when it comes to this, but they have a very difficult job to be fair and make sure the right teams get in. A lot of it projecting how they think they’ll play going forward as well. There’s no Kentucky like last year or with a Duke team in the past. There are probably 10 or more teams that can win it, and that’s the storyline going in. We’ve had the best regular season ratings in 22 years, so we know those stories like Georgia State or Valparaiso will continue to come up and set the bar high for us.”

What’s best suited to run here and now:

== We have a previous post this week about the Pac-12 Network’s distribution philosophy amidst the frustrations on watching the men’s basketball conference tournament. The conference announced late Wednesday that Cox Communications added the Pac-12 Network in California and Arizona, at least temporarily.
Said Pac-12 Net president Lydia Murphy-Stephans said in a statement: “This is great news for our fans. We continue to work with Cox to make sure Pac-12 Network is available to fans in their entire footprint in HD.”

= Also this week, a  post about the “reveal” by KSPN’s Steve Mason.
As a post script: Mason did text us back Wednesday, and in talking about the reaction others had to his news: “The world is a much kinder place than I thought. My faith in humanity has been restored. Seriously.”

Bill Raftery, left, Grant Hill and Jim Nantz came together during the 2015 NCAA tournament for the Final Four and championship games in Indianapolis. (Bob Leverone/Getty Images)

Bill Raftery, left, Grant Hill and Jim Nantz came together during the 2015 NCAA tournament for the Final Four and championship games in Indianapolis. (Bob Leverone/Getty Images)

== The NCAA Tournament broadcast teams announced by CBS and Turner who’ll start calling games with the Tuesday/Wednesday “first four” games, and then the Thursday/Friday and Saturday/Sunday rounds at the very least:
=Jim Nantz is with Bill Raftery and Grant Hill (plus Tracy Wolfson) as the A-team, through to the NCAA semifinals and finals on TBS this season, their second year together after doing it on CBS in 2015.
The others who’ll go forward to the first and second weekend:
=Verne Lundquist-Jim Spanarkel (Allie LaForce)
=Brian Anderson-Steve Smith (Dana Jacobson)
=Kevin Harlan-Reggie Miller-Dan Bonner (Lewis Johnson)
Those who have first weekend duties only:
=Ian Eagle-Chris Webber-Len Elmore (Evan Washburn)
=Spero Dedes-Doug Gottlieb (Ros Gold-Onwude)
=Andrew Catalon-Steve Lappas (Jamie Erdahl)
=Carter Blackburn-Mike Gminski (Jamie Maggio)
Those missing from last year: Marv Albert, who asked to concentrate just on the NBA; Rachel Nichols, who returned to ESPN, and Craig Sager, still recovering from cancer and keeping an NBA schedule for TNT.
Last season, Gottlieb worked with Eagle, and Webber and Elmore were with Albert. Also Dedes was with Gminski and Maggio, and Johnson did sidelines for the Anderson-Smith team.
The 37-year-old Blackburn effectively replaces Albert. Blackburn seemed to have been a CBS golden boy a few years back in 2008 and 2009, working tournament games with Jay Bilas. But he then defected to ESPN. He’s back in the loop on first two-round games after having come back to work at CBSSN.
Gold-Onwude, a former Stanford standout who has worked for the Pac-12 Network and ESPN, has been added as a reporter for the first time, as is Washburn.

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A little more of the real deal behind the Steve Mason ‘Reveal’

masonIt was almost exactly a year ago today, a Wednesday in early March, 2015, at the L.A. Live studios on ESPN’s KSPN affiliate.
Steve Mason came out of the booth during a commercial break during the “Mason And Ireland Show” on the 710-AM radio station and knocked on the glass door of then-program director Mike Thompson.
There was a bit of urgency in his body language. Thompson got up to let him in.
“Just giving you a heads up,” Mason said in a low voice. “Could happen today. … right now … the announcement … today.”
Mason and John Ireland had just been in a discussion about the story most everyone was talking about that day: A University of Oklahoma fraternity involved in a racist chant on a bus. Mason had admitted that when he was in his university fraternity at Bowling Green, they excluded a student because he was gay.
Still, the topic had Mason on a bit of an edge. It was coming to a point where he wanted to let something out that he never admitted on the air before.
Thompson asked if maybe he could wait, noting Mason hadn’t shaved that day and if TV cameras were to come in later that afternoon.
Mason saw me sitting there in Thompson’s office.
“You know, right?” Mason asked me directly.
I don’t know anything, but I played along as if I did, to see what he’d say.
“Oh, yeah, I’m gay,” Mason said in a manner-of-fact way.

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