Friday media: The tragic life of Lawrence Phillips, and the action items left to achieve

Armen Keteyian discusses Lawrence Phillips documentary, RB’s tragic life

There is at least one former Rams running back that you’d wish could show up on the team’s sidelines this season. Just for one more game, without raising a stink about it.
But he died last January at age 40. While in jail. Perhaps a suicide, but all things considered, likely not.
A Showtime documentary called “Running For His Life, The Lawrence Phillips Story” is by no means a Hallmark Channel kind of thing you’d want to watch time of year. Showtime debuts it Friday, with many repeat airings through Christmas.
Ross Greenburg is the director and producer, with Armen Keteyian as the lead interviewer as well as executive producer.
Greenburg admits it was not easy getting some interview subjects because “it was hard to describe what our intent was for the piece. We were not trying to vilify anyone, including Lawrence.  We just wanted to tell the truth and find out the question: ‘Why’? Eventually we gained their trust.”
A key interview with Amaliya Weisler, twice a Phillips’ domestic violence victim, yet someone Phillips wrote love letters to from his prison cell over the last four years proclaiming his intent to marry her, sheds incredible context as well.
“He just wanted his mother to say she was sorry and that she loved him, and I don’t think she ever told him that,” said Weisler, who still wrote a letter to Phillips’ judge asking for lenience. “I think he felt rejected by her.”
It was Phillips’ last act as a free man — stealing Weisler’s car in San Diego, driving to L.A. and then using the car to try to run over some kids playing football on the grass outside the Coliseum — that led to his eventual arrest and 31-year prison term in 2012.
Here’s a link to the story online and a trailer below:

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Weekly media notes version 12.15.16: Who doesn’t dig their RSN? Just looking for some reassurance

Coming up Friday, a look at the new documentary “Running For His Life: The Lawrence Phillips Story,” which Showtime debuts that day at 9 p.m. with many showings through next week.

Lawrence Phillips, center, is seen here the 1991 San Gabriel Valley Tribune All-Valley Team in 1992.

Lawrence Phillips, center, is seen here the 1991 San Gabriel Valley Tribune All-Valley Team in 1992.

Nothing you see on the Hallmark Channel this Christmas season will be as heartbreaking and a reality check at the same time by retelling the story of the former West Covina High and Baldwin Park High star running back who tried to stay in the NFL with the Rams but ultimately wound up in jail and dying of an apparent suicide earlier in 2016.
“If I had to do it over again today, I might not have fired him,” said former Rams coach Dick Vermeil, who had to release Phillips. “I don’t feel good about it. A wasted, gifted human being. It haunts me.”
“The fact that Dick Vermeil was trying to make it work with Lawrence tells you how talented he was, because he didn’t put up with that crap from most guys,” said former Rams teammate and local Rams radio analyst D’Marco Farr.

Meanwhile, what’s worth posting here and now leading into the 51st full weekend of 2016:

blog_survey_720x260== Survey says: Regional sports networks matter.
Swell. So now what?
Since apparently the impact of RSNs in the grand scheme of things that are all TV  needs more validation, Fox Sports decided to commission a report out of the famed Nielsen ratings company that aimed to prove just that assertion.
Done, and done.
rnsFox released the results of that study called “The Fifth Network: Regional Sports Network Passion Index “ on Wednesday. In its succinct four-paragraph release, Fox said that a survey of more than 1,500 pay TV subscribers around the country who identify as sports fans determined that “on average, respondents rate their RSNs as the fifth most essential channel in their entire television packages, ranking only behind the four broadcast networks. Respondents ranked RSNs as more essential than all cable channels. In certain geographical regions, sports fans ranked their RSNs as the most essential networks.”
There is no data broken down to show how many voted in what category, or how the survey was done, or over what period of time the survey was done, or if there are results broken down from regions or cities, or … This is all very general.
What the implication seems to be is that, in trying to interpret all this non-data, some feel their local RSN is more important in their cities than the ESPN family of channels, Fox Sports 1, NBCSN, the NFL Network, TVG or pay channels like HBO and Showtime.
St. Louis and Detroit were given as examples of the “most essential network” category, and most of the RSN strength lies in Major League Baseball coverage.
Which is basically what Fox Sports’ regional channels are all about.
“We think this is a story that hasn’t been reported anywhere,” Fox Sports Regional Networks President Jeff Krolik told the Sports Business Daily. “It is overlooked because it is a local story, not a national story.”
filestream-ashxFox has three RSNs in Southern California operating under one umbrella staff, with Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket in L.A. and Fox Sports San Diego to the South.
There are some 20 Fox-owned RSNs around the country.
So how can this information be leveraged? Certainly, Spectrum Sports can add it to its legal briefs if it gets called into court during any DOJ legal action against DirecTV/AT&T on its $5 a month Dodgers’ SportsNet LA. But then, DirecTV should already know the value of RSNs by having its own Roots Network in place.
Next time, may we suggest both sides show their homework or else they’ll get an incomplete grade on this assignment?

== While there isn’t much fresh Dodgers programming to air between November and February, the team seems to be OK with allowing Spectrum Sports to use it as a spill channel with its customers who want to see four of the five CIF State high school football divisional championships this weekend.
Only the St. John Bosco-Concord De Le Salle Open Division title game landing on Spectrum SportsNet at 8 p.m. Saturday will go to Spectrum SportsNet. Barry Tompkins, John Jackson and Mike Pawlawski call it with Kate Scott on the sidelines for all five games.
The other four games on SNLA (rather than the Spectrum Community Channel):
Division 2-AA: Valley Christian vs. Madison, 4 p.m. (Steve Quis, Jackson)
Division 1-AA: Cathedral Catholic vs. St. Mary’s, 8 p.m.(Tompkins, Jackson)
Division 2-A: Sierra Canyon vs. Serra of Menlo, noon (Quis, Pawlawski)
Division 1-A: San Clemente-Del Oro, 4 p.m. (Quis, Pawlawski) Continue reading “Weekly media notes version 12.15.16: Who doesn’t dig their RSN? Just looking for some reassurance” »

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NFL Week 15 in the L.A. TV market: Rams-Seahawks, and let the throwback ‘poopfest’ begin

Oh, for the love of throwing things back to the way it used to be.
Since we’ll never know whether Jeff Fisher would have set the record for most losses by an NFL head coach, NBC and the NFL Network must carry on with joint custody of the Thursday night Fisher-less Rams against the Christmas Carrolling-Seahawks game from Seattle.
stlouisramsvtennesseetitansmygesxapsxtlAl Michaels told us this week a piece of irony/coincidence: He remembers calling Fisher’s head coaching debut on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” on Nov. 21, 1994 and the final score — a 13-10 New York Giants win over Fisher’s Houston Oilers at the Astrodome — sounds pretty familiar.
“Call me Mr. Bookend,” said Michaels.
(And Michael Strahan only sacked Billy Joe Tolliver once).
“The coaching change and what happens in the near future is the primary focus early on,” Michaels said of this Rams-Seahawks matchup. “I’m just hoping the game doesn’t turn into a rout.”
The Brentwood resident also said he hoping some day to “live long enough to do a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ at the Rams someday, which would allow him to finally drive to an actual NFL site near his home. He did call several Rams’ games from Anaheim on MNF between 1986 and 1993.
Tweaks also this week in how you may adjusting your viewing habits: Finally, there’s an  NFL game on a Saturday, the flex mechanism is in place and has pushed Tampa Bay-Dallas into the Sunday night prime-time window and sent Pittsburgh at Cincinnati back to the roster of CBS, which has the Sunday doubleheader option.
Here’s how it lays out with seven broadcasts over four days:

= Rams at Seattle, 5:25 p.m., Channel 4, NFL Network (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Heather Cox). And for those unfamiliar with the format, the NFL Net has a pre-game show that starts at 3 p.m. from outside the stadium in Seattle with Rich Eisen, Steve Mariucci, Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvin, as well as reporters Cox and Steve Wyche. At 4:30 p.m., the NFL Net and NBC simulcast the “Football Night in Seattle” pregame with Bob Costas onsite as well as Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison. The NFL Net also carries a post-game press conference and analysis show that airs at game’s end and runs until 9 p.m.
Let the “poopfest” begin:

= Miami at N.Y. Jets, 5:25 p.m., NFL Network (Mike Tirico, Doug Flutie and Heather Cox, with Tony Dungy joining in the second quarter). No NBC simulcast.
= Detroit at N.Y. Giants, 10 a.m., Channel 11 (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, going to 48 percent of the country). It’s Fox only game of the day, and it had some interesting choices with Green Bay at Chicago (Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch) and Philadelphia-Baltimore (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston) in the early window and two NFC West-centric games in the late window — New Orleans-Arizona and San Francisco-Atlanta.
= Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 10 a.m., Channel 2 (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts). CBS picks this one as the early game instead of Tennessee-Kansas City (Greg Gumbel, Trent Green),  Indianapolis-Minnesota (Kevin Harlan, RIch Gannon), Jacksonville-Houston or a miserable Cleveland-Buffalo.
= Oakland at San Diego, 1:25 p.m., Channel 2 (Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots). A very tough call by CBS, but the one L.A. has to live with as it turns out because most of the West Coast (except Seattle) is saddled with this. Most of the rest of the country will see the far better contest: New England-Denver with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.
= Tampa Bay at Denver, 5:30 p.m., Channel 4 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
= Carolina at Washington, 5:30 p.m., ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters)

The DirecTV “NFL Sunday Ticket” lineup:
Continue reading “NFL Week 15 in the L.A. TV market: Rams-Seahawks, and let the throwback ‘poopfest’ begin” »

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Pencil in the semi-regular Vin Scully updates: A lunch date auction and a Shrine candidacy

Vin Scully and scorebook during game in 2016. (Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC)

Vin Scully and scorebook during game in 2016. (Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC)

A couple of notes on the Vin Scully docket worth sharing:

maxresdefault== The Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster has agreed to again help the Stillpoint Family Resources non-profit, which helps the undeserved with counseling and spiritual services, by participating in an auction where the winner has a lunch with him and former broadcast partner Ross Porter on Jan. 13, 2017. Three winning bids get two chairs at the table with Scully and Porter at a private home in Calabasas Park. The bidding is open through Sunday at noon. Contact Jenni Porter ( at 818 518 6973 for more information. Minimum opening bid is $2,000. with the expected winning bidders to have committed $5,000.
Stillpoint is led by Dr. Ross Porter, son of the broadcaster who has a Masters in Divinity as well as a Ph.D. from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena.

index== The Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals has included Scully on its ballot for the first time in its 19-year history, executive director Terry Cannon announced. While Scully has already received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, the mission of the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine is to honor individuals “from the obscure to the well-known who have altered the baseball world in ways that supersede statistics.”
Ballots will be sent to Baseball Reliquary members on April 1. The only requirement for those eligible to be a voter is having paid the minimum $25 annual membership by March 31. The three new inductees will be announced in May with induction set for July 16, 2017.
Cannon wrote this bio for Scully that will appear on the ballot for voting consideration:
Vin Scully (b. 1927) – The great bard of baseball broadcasting who served as the urbane and lyrical voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years. Considered by many to be the greatest sportscaster of all time, he also broadcast a total of twenty-eight World Series to a national audience: his iconic calls of the Bill Buckner muff in 1986 and Kirk Gibson’s heroic home run in 1988 have now passed into legend. Scully’s descriptions of events occurring on the diamond, punctuated with vivid reveries, poetic anecdotes, and spontaneous riffs retrieved from his vast store of baseball memories, enthralled generations of baseball fans. Always eloquent and gentlemanly, Scully’s retirement at the end of the 2016 season was a milestone in baseball history – widely commemorated across America – culminating with the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to him at the White House in November.

Several broadcasters have been on the Shrine ballot in the previous 18 years, but only Dizzy Dean, who spent the second half of his career in the TV and radio booth, has been elected for the Eternals’ enshrinement. Milwaukee Brewers announcer Bob Uecker is also included on the Shrine ballot for the first time after being absent for many years.
Other first-timers among the 50 candidates are Mo’ne Davis, Manny Ramirez and official MLB historian John Thorn.

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Play It Forward Dec. 12-18: Will UCLA roll box cars against Ohio State in Vegas?

Jessica Alba can appreciate the performance by the UCLA basketball team during its win over Michigan at Pauley Pavilion last Saturday. UCLA won 102-84. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Jessica Alba can appreciate the performance by the UCLA basketball team during its 102-84 win over Michigan at Pauley Pavilion last Saturday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Now is when the 10-0 and second-ranked UCLA Bruins can put some markers down in Vegas – three months before the Pac-12 Tournament returns there. As they prepare to take on 8-2 Ohio State in a CBS noon game on Saturday at the T-Mobile Center just off the Vegas Strip, they’re arriving at a time when some are comparing their flash and dash to the Golden State Warriors. The co-headliner in this CBS Sports Classic event is Kentucky vs. North Carolina at 2:45 p.m. UCLA first plays host to UC Santa Barbara (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net) to try to push the record to 11-0 before the Vegas trip.
The rest of the week ahead for the Lakers and Kings deep into a long road trip, the state high school football championships taking place in Sacramento and Bernard Hopkins calling it a career at this link.

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