What’s worth posting today for the weekend ahead:
== All the moving parts are in place for KABC-Channel 7 to carry the first SoCal Prep Legends Awards show in collaboration with the Southern California News Group of 11 regional media outlets. The show Friday at 8:30 p.m. after Game 4 of the NBA Finals is the focus of this preview story.
== If you missed the latest non-breaking news:
LOVELOCK, Nev. (AP) — Prison officials in Nevada have released a new photo that shows a smiling O.J. Simpson.
Perhaps he’s been given time to conjugally visit early reviews of the five-part ABC/ESPN documentary series, “O.J.: Made in America” that had a limited theater release and finally gets to TV screens (where Simpson can theoretically watch it) with the Saturday opener (Channel 7, 9-11 p.m.) and continuing on ESPN at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, June 17 and June 18.
In a GQ review, Chuck Klosterman says “this is as good as storytelling gets. It’s the finest film ESPN has ever produced and the absolute pinnacle of its 30 for 30 ideology: If you want to understand why sports matter so much to the fabric of our society, there is no clearer illustration than this documentary.”
In an Entertainment Weekly review, it’s “a brilliant work of long-form reporting with (director Ezra) Edleman carefully plotting an outcome that seems inevitable only in hindsight. Watch it now. You’ll be thinking — and talking — about it all summer long.” A second review of the piece in another part of the same June 3/10 issue gives it an “A+” grade, as “the lesser-known players, including jurors and marketing agents, .. provide the most provocative insights into a tragic saga of compounding historical injustices that implicate all of American culture.”
The Washington Post posted a story under the headline: “ESPN’s ‘O.J.: Made in America’ is nothing short of a towering achievement”
Even the Onion’s A.V. Club calls it “a journalistic marvel, assembling fact after fact and observation after observation into a portrait far more complex overall than it appears at any given moment. What emerges is a bracing look at life in a country where the way we process what we see and hear is too often determined by who we are.”
(Our own SCNG writer Rob Lowman also has high praise for it, as well as pointing out some of its journalistic flaws with some need of follow up questions).
And after all that’s said and praised, we’re still not sure we want to dedicate eight hours of our life (even without commercials) to this whole thing again.
Call is Juice Fatigue.
NPR makes sure we know that the series is more “about America, not O.J.” and that seems fair. We know we’re setting up the DVR to capture this moment. But we’re just not sure that after the mess FX did with the recent “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” we are ready to consume more of it — and we hardly watched a minute of that either.
(And by the way: Why were graphic crime scenes included in this ESPN piece, but nothing from Kato Kaelin?)
== TWC SportsNet surely has plenty of pictures of a smiling Dave Miller.
Maybe not any more going forward.
Miller’s future as a Lakers studio analyst on TWC SportsNet channel appears to be done based on an email that went out to employees this week.
“I’d like to ask you all to take a moment to thank Coach Dave Miller for his time, professionalism, enthusiasm and skill over the past 4 years at TWC Sports,” said the email. “Dave and we had a meeting this morning (Monday) and we agreed that Dave will be leaving us at this time to pursue new opportunities. Dave has been a tireless representative of our business on the air and in the community, and has always had a willingness to help us wherever and whenever we have needed him. He has, indeed, been a big part of the networks since our launch and he has helped make us what we are. Please wish Dave all the best in his next chapter.”
A TWC spokesman had no comment.
Sources say the move with Miller is more of a “going in a different direction” move that does not, at this time, involve any sort of thought that former Lakers coach Byron Scott could return to the Lakers pre- and post-game show role he once had.
== You see any correlation between Dave Miller and Dick Vitale? Many have made that comparison.
Thursday, on Vitale’s 77th birthday, ESPN announced his contract would be extended through 2018-19 and give the Basketball Hall of Famer 40 years with the company. His schedule is supposed to remain the same, doing games on ESPN and ESPN2 and the Final Four for ESPN International.
“ESPN has been a vital part of my life,” Vitale said. “Completing the next three years of my contract will mean 40 years of hoops heaven. I have loved every moment, and it has been a thrill to be courtside and call some of the greatest games in the country, sitting next to some of the most outstanding play-by-play announcers you could ever want to work with. I can’t thank them, the producers and all of the people behind the scenes enough for giving me a life that’s exceeded any dream I’ve ever had. My goal is to be the first announcer ever to call a game and say “you’re awesome baby” at 100.”
Vitale joined the network just after it launched in Sept. 1979 and did the first major college basketball game — Wisconsin at DePaul on Dec. 5 of that year.
== KCBS-Channel 2 announced a partnership Thursday with the Rams to broadcast three of the team’s exhibition games: Aug. 20 vs. Kansas City, Aug. 27 at Denver and Sept. 1 at Minnesota. The Rams’ exhibition opener on Aug. 13 vs. Dallas is an ESPN broadcast.
No broadcasters were announced as part of the package.
The station did say it will produce a weekly half-hour coaches show with Jeff Fisher that will be hosted by Jim Hill.
Hill, a former NFL defensive back for San Diego, Green Bay and Cleveland from 1968-’75, had his younger brother, David, play tight end for the Los Angeles Rams from 1984-87.
Still nothing official, meanwhile, on a radio partnership with the Rams and KSPN-AM 710 and The Sound 100.3 FM as has been reported.
== ESPN sent out a press release last Sunday announcing an exclusive appearance by Brock Lesnar on its Monday “SportsCenter,” which was a “Face to Face” segment with Hannah Storm, calling it the “first interview since his return to the UFC was announced.”
The release continued: “UFC officials announced Saturday night that Lesnar, the WWE professional wrestling superstar and former UFC heavyweight champion, will return to the Octagon and face an undisclosed opponent at UFC 200 in Las Vegas on July 9.”
A couple points to make here:
A) As has been discussed in the media since late last Saturday night, the UFC’s announcement and the news as it was broken by Ariel Helwani created a story unto itself. Helwani, of MMAFighting.com, a website from SBNation.
UFC/@arielhelwani dispute good reminder of why groups like BBWAA exist. You might hate MVP votes, but BBWAA exists to protect writer access.
— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) June 5, 2016
Helwani’s situation was discussed by several major media outlets including the Southern California News Group’s Brian Martin, covering UFC 199 that night at the Forum in Inglewood.
Eventually, the UFC announced Tuesday that everything was cool, there was no more lifetime ban, and Helwani was welcome back.
We’ll see how this continues to play out.
B) Why would the UFC keep giving ESPN an “exclusive” when its primary broadcast partner is Fox Sports? It continues a trend of the UFC sending all kinds of signals that its relationship with Fox Sports means nothing and ESPN is next up to claim a rights fee.
Included in that curious question is this tweet that went out:
— Stanford Steve (@StanfordSteve82) June 7, 2016
== Father’s Day media-related things to consider:
Still get the itch to play Strat-O-Matic?
It’s fair to call it the original fantasy sports game — without a financial payoff, but a payoff that’s closer to the heart. A new hour-long doc called “Managing to Win: The Story of Strat-O-Matic Baseball” has come out and with Father’s Day coming up, it’s a neat thing to consider as a gift. It’s a history of the game’s creation, it’s early struggles, home videos and how it finally came to its legendary status.
“My father was very tough on me while I was growing up and I invented the game in part, as a way to get out from under his control,” said Hal Richman, founder and CEO of Strat-O-Matic who invented the game at age 11 in Great Neck, N.Y. “The irony of my situation is that Strat-O-Matic games have brought thousands of fathers and sons together.”
The DVD at strat-o-matic.com runs $21.99, as well as a “starter” kit game that is available at $29.99.
More about the film at this link.
== And from the bookshelf:
= “The Steamer: Bud Furillo and the Golden Age of L.A. Sports,” by Andy Furillo (Santa Monica Press, 480 pages, $27.95):
Former Los Angeles Herald Express and Herald Examiner columnist Bud Furillo, who became a popular sports-talk show host at KABC in the 1980s and ’90s, was in the process of writing his life story when he died while living in Ojai in 2006. His son, Andy, also a former Herald Examiner reporter now working at the Sacramento Bee, not only finished the project but added many famous “Steamer” columns through diligent research.
“When he became a big-shot sports writer in Los Angeles, Furillo wrote for the people who had come from (his native) Youngstown (Ohio) and every other industrial neighborhood in America to resettle on the West Coast after World War II,” Andy Furillo writes in the first chapter. “They celebrated the wars they won, the kids they raised, the steel they molded and the businesses they created. They loved sports and sports teams. They read the newspaper sports pages and depended on columnists to give it to them straight, from the inside out.
“In his years in Los Angeles, the Steamer’s readers and listeners expanded to include the lawyers and doctors and politicians and entrepreneurs who shared the hardcore of love sports. Maybe his appeal was that he was a reflection of their own backgrounds and family histories that sprang from the factories and mines of the Rust Belt in places like Youngstown, where the Steamer had gained his own sense of place.”
It is quite timely that Chapter 6 is devoted to Furillo’s relationship with Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali, going back to 1962 when Clay called Furillo to ask if he could help write about his upcoming fights at the L.A. Sports Arena that would lead toward his first title fight.
“Furillo’s coverage of Ali captured a great convergence of boxing history,” writes Andy Furillo. “with the Ali story patching into the tales of other champs of the era such as Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and the fabulous Archie Moore, whom the Steamer loved, admired and bathed in ink … Like it did everybody in American society, the Muhammad Ali story challenged The Steam Room. It raised lightning-rod issues such as race, politics, religion and war, the sharp dividers of the 1960s America. In his weaker journalistic moments, Furillo played to the jingoes. At his best, he made his readers aware of the shortcomings of stereotype. Always, he captured the sense of fun, and with Ali, you didn’t need the Freedom of Information Act to find it.”
= “Wednesdays With Wooden: A doctor’s house calls and his unique bond with a legendary coach” (Friesen Press, 102 pages, $28.99 hardcover, $10.49 paperback):
Southern California podiatrist Dr. Michael Levi, who first met UCLA basketball coach John Wooden at one his summer camps, regularly attended Bruins games with his father and then became Wooden’s foot doctor in his later years writes a recollection of his Wednesdays spent with Wooden at his home in Encino.
== Two more Dodgers’ national airings this weekend that will also come to the L.A. market:
= Joe Davis and CJ Nitkowski call the Fox (KTTV-Channel 11) coverage of the Dodgers’ game at San Francisco on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. It’s a regional game, actually, going to West Coast while the rest of the country gets St. Louis-Pittsburgh (Kenny Albert, Tom Verducci and Jon Paul Morosi) or Detroit-N.Y. Yankees (Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal). Fox’s coverage Saturday continues with the Angels playing host to Cleveland at 7 p.m. on FS1 (Aaron Goldsmith and Mark Gubicza)
= Sunday, ESPN is doing a somewhat new double-header setup with the Dodgers-Giants backed up a half hour and scheduled to air at 5:30 p.m. on the network. Dan Shulman, Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone are also planning to call the game from atop the AT&T Park’s right-field wall instead of the traditional behind-the-plate booth. The game will follow the 2 p.m. start of St. Louis-Pittsburgh. If that game runs long, expect to find the Dodgers-Giants first pitch — with Julio Urias starting for the Dodgers in his first national TV game — on ESPN2 or elsewhere.
SportsNet LA has Friday’s 7:15 p.m. game with Davis and Orel Hershiser (no Nomar Garciaparra)
== Another week’s worth of Vin Scully news and notes:
= Scully was awarded the Gabriel Personal Achievement Award last week from the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals for epitomizing “what the Gabriel Awards represent: positive, upbeat, soulful, kindhearted and conscientious,” said Susan Wallace, chair of this year’s competition.
= George Blaha, the voice of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons since 1976 and calling football games for Michigan State, talks to DeadlineDetroit.com about the time he flew to L.A. just to meet Scully.
= When new Dodgers reliever Casey Fien’s family heard from Scully that he was warming up in the bullpen, it was if he had already made it into the game.
“I can hear my dad in the background: ‘Vin said your name! Vin said your name!’ ” Fien said.
= A Denver Post story on the Rockies’ 6-1 win over the Dodgers on Tuesday, where the Dodgers’ one hit by Howie Kendrick in the second inning was described by Scully as “a lonely murmur of protest.”
= A Dodger Insider blog post by Jon Weisman on that Tuesday, June 6 day where Scully spent much of the broadcast talking about the 72nd anniversary of D-Day and what it means.
= A seven-minute plus interview with Atlanta Braves broadcaster Chip Caray, when the Braves came through L.A. last week, that has Scully admitting: “All of the sudden I noticed the players were calling me ‘mister.’ And then I finally thought, ‘You know, what if I tried to work next year I’d be coming up 90, and that doesn’t make sense at all’.”
Caray later shared a Scully story in a podcast.
= How the passing of Muhammad Ali was announced, those who wrote about it, and how Scully broke the news to the SportsNet LA audience last Friday night.
== ESPN airs the Ali memorial service Friday beginning at 11 a.m. from Louisville, Ky. The network moved the opening match of the UEFA European Football Championship — France vs. Romania in Paris — to ESPN2 at noon, with Ian Darke, Taylor Twellman and Steve Bower.
Details of ESPN’s Ali coverage anchored in Louisville by Hannah Storm and Jeremy Schaap with Howard Bryant is in this release it sent out Thursday.
== In light of Ali’s passing, Smithsonian Channel re-airs “Lives That Changed the World: Muhammad Ali” on Thursday (8 p.m.), Friday (5 and 9 p.m.), Saturday (3 p.m.) and Sunday (5 p.m.) as well as the final episode of “Sports Detectives: Ali’s Gold Medal,” which debuted last Sunday and is the most intriguing of the run. This re-airs Friday (4, 6 and 10 p.m.)
== HBO also replays the drama “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” (Friday, 8 p.m.) that debuted in 2013 and stars Frank Langella as Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Danny Glover as Thurgood Marshall as the Supreme Court debates Ali’s 1971 case of being a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. It is based on the 2000 book by longtime Ali friend Howard Bingham.
== On Tuesday’s episode of “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley,” the host who recently gave his thoughts about the live of Ali to our Mark Whicker will have an Ali tribute (HBO, 11 p.m., with replays through the week). Actor Jack Nicholson is scheduled to be Lampley’s guest.
== Sony Pictures is also re-releasing the 2001 biopix, “Ali,” starring Will Smith at selected theaters, but so far, none that we can find in Southern California.
== Among the media-related remembrances of Muhammad Ali comes this one from Rich Marotta, the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Famer who runs the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, relaying a story to KFI’s Bill Handel about not only getting an autograph at age 12 from Cassius Clay, but a time when Marotta was an NBC page and working at the Cal State Northridge radio station. He brought his cassette tape machine with him to the “Flip Wilson Show” and turned an opportunity for a small comment into a 15-minute interview “with a complete nobody at a college radio station … I’ve never forgotten that.”
Marotta adds that the interview, where Ali discusses his comeback and is looking to fight Joe Frazier, was done in 1969 or ’70. “I may still have it,” he said.
== And thanks to TV game show researcher extraordinaire David Schwartz for finding this 1965 episode of “What’s My Line?” that had Ali (aka Cassius Clay) as the mystery guess, one that Joe Garagiola couldn’t nail down:
== And more clips of the Ali relationship with the late ABC sportscaster Howard Cosell remain TV gold.
== John Strong, Brad Friedel and Jenny Taft have the third USMNT game of the Copa America Centenario when they call Saturday’s game against Paraguay at 4 p.m. for FS1, following the 3 p.m. pregame hosted by Rob Stone, Alexi Lalas, Fernando Fiore and Landon Donovan. That Saturday game is followed up by Colombia vs. Costa Rica (Justin Kutcher and Cobi Jones) at 6 p.m. on FS2 before it gets to the knock out rounds.
== Fox’s ramp up to the 116th U.S. Open golf tournament at Oakmont starts with preview show on FS1 with Brad Faxon and Holly Sonders (Monday and Tuesday, noon), and a Wednesday preview with Joe Buck, Paul Azinger, Juli Inkster, Curtis Strange and Scott McCarron during the final practice round and press conferences (FS1, 7 a.m.)
Azinger joins Colin Cowherd’s radio/TV show on Friday at 11 a.m. to reveal the group pairings for the event.
== On Tiger Woods’ plan to write a book about his 1997 Masters victory, presumably to come out on the 20th anniversary of the event.
== Golf Channel’s coverage of the U.S. Open from Oakmont, just outside of Pittsburgh, includes a set that’ll be between the 14th and 15th holes. Rich Lerner, Kelly Tilghman and Ryan Burr host, with Brandel Chamblee, David Duval, Frank Nobilo, Mark Rolfing, Arron Oberholser and Michael Breed as analysts, plus Tim Rosaforte, Rex Hoggard, Ken Schofield and John Feinstein. Golf Central Live goes daily from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-to-7 p.m. starting Monday, then 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
== NBC has Dan Hicks, Annika Sorenstam, Curt Byrum, Tom Abbott, Mark Rolfing, Kay Cockerill and Steve Sands for the final two rounds of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at 11 a.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday (Channel 4) from Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. The first two rounds are on Golf Channel.
== The new Madrid, Spain-based digital platform Olympic Channel Services, which the IOC wants to use as a tool to “broadcast the Olympic Movement and its inherent values all year round, especially in the periods between the Olympic Games,” announced this week alliances with 27 international sports federations. The launch date of the site will happen prior to the Rio Games in August. Live events are to be carried as well as news and athlete stories, plus historical Olympic footage and films from the IOC archives.
Among the federations that have aligned with the channel: The FIBA (international basketball), AIBA (international boxing), IGF (international golf), FIG (international gymnastics), IIHF (international ice hockey), UWW (wrestling) and IWF (weightlifting).
== Dwight Stones has been doing play-by-play with Larry Rawson and Jill Montgomery on the NCAA men’s and women’s track and field championships from Eugene, Ore., this week for ESPN. The men’s final airs Friday at 5:30 p.m., with the women’s final on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Specific events get their own play on ESPN3 website.
== Bob Costas will still be with the NBC coverage of the Belmont Stakes from New York on Saturday (2 p.m., Channel 4) along with Tom Hammond, Jerry Bailey, Randy Moss, Bob Neumeier, Kenny Rice, Donna Brothers, Eddie Olczyk, Larry Collmus, Carolyn Manno and Laffit Pincay III.
== Can there be controversy involved when a famous video game changes the play-by-play and analyst broadcasters? Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are out with EA Sports’ “Madden ’17,” replaced by Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis.
== A gentle reminder and stern warning: The new FS1 show, “Speak For Yourself,” featuring Jason Whitlock and Colin Cowherd, with TheBigLead.com’s Jason McIntyre as a news facilitator, launches Monday at 3 p.m.
The hour-long show does not go head-to-head with ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” (weekdays from 2:30-to-3 p.m.)
“While Cowherd and Whitlock take the lead with their strong opinions on ‘Speak For Yourself,’ McIntyre steps in to help usher the debate between the two on the show,” said Charlie Dixon, exec VP of content for FS1 and FS2, said in a release this week. “He brings with him a unique understanding of the conversations sports fans want to have on social platforms and this will help add perspective and attitude to the show’s topics.”
A sample of what to expect.
== And as Bill Simmons ramps up his new HBO show and website, he told the Hollywood Reporter that in retrospect, about working at ESPN: “Who would work there that you respect right now?”
Turns out, a lot of his former colleagues from the NBA pregame show, and Grantland.com, and …
“My apologies for being a jackass,” he later admitted in a tweet meant to appease those whom he called out previously.
Save that and you can post it occasionally for future stories you become involved with. It comes with having a salary now reported to be between $7 million and $9 million a year. You can buy damage control when needed.