Weekly media column version 12.19.14 — How the Kobe Bryant reality show plays out for those who played the game

This week’s topic trending enough to entice a sports media column posted here:

“I have things I want to get off my chest … I don’t have the patience to sit and write a book, so I’ll do it this way,” Kobe Bryant says in the trailer of a documentary called “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” which Showtime released this week, promoting the fact it will air the entire piece on its network once it’s done sometime in February. The film is created and produced by the Lakers star and directed by Gotham Chopra.

429641_1280x720If you’re looking for some deeper meaning of what that doc title means, there’s a piece Bryant wrote for Derek Jeter’s The Players Tribune where he used the word “muse”  to describe Michael Jordan, whom he just passed on the regular-season all-time scoring list this week.

All of that kind of fits into the Kobe storyline of the 2014-15 season — he’s become his own reality show, as fans are consumed in watching how someone who achieves personal accolades almost on a nightly basis also handles the adversity of team around him constantly losing.
The Lakers have a Christmas Day appearance — again — on the opening of a TNT doubleheader, at Chicago, at 5 p.m.. It’s prior to the Clippers’ home game against Golden State that may have more at stake. But in the opener, Kobe drives decisions.

6a00d8341c630a53ef0105360b421e970b-800wiWe’ve asked Reggie Miller, Chris Webber and Greg Anthony to talk about what still keeps them enthralled in the Kobe saga — and whether or not Bryant’s practice outbursts is worthy of news.

What we could have included but will put it here instead:

==  The SI.com best-and-worst list of the sports media in 2014.

== USA Today’s gallery of the best sports photos from 2014. And more from SI.com.

TMZ's Harvey Levin ends up sitting courtside next to actress Vanessa Hudgens and actor  Zac Efron at a Lakers' Staples Center 2009 playoff game. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

TMZ’s Harvey Levin ends up sitting courtside next to actress Vanessa Hudgens and actor Zac Efron at a Lakers’ Staples Center 2009 playoff game. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

== Media members who made the 2014 “Most Influential People in Sports Business” by the Sports Business Daily include ESPN’s John Skipper (at No. 2, behind NBA commissioner Adam Silver), CBS Sports’ Sean McManus (at No. 6), Turner Sports’ David Levy (at No. 8), NBC Sports’ Mark Lazarus (at No. 11), Fox Sports’ Randy Freer and Eric Shanks (at No. 12), MLB Advanced Media’s Bob Bowman (at No. 25), and Harvey Levin of TMZ (at No. 50) Continue reading

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Play It Forward Dec. 15-21: If UCLA basketball thought Gonzaga was a handful … here’s No. 1 Kentucky

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

ncb_u_calinet_cr_576COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA vs. KENTUCKY
Details/TV: At United Center in Chicago, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 2:
9780143127086_p0_v1_s260x420You might remember that in his latest book, “Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out,” Kentucky coach John Calipari wrote about how he despises the NBA rule that entices college kids to play just one year before they’re lured into thinking they’re professionally ready. “I’ve made it work for the teams I coach — and for the players — as best I can. But I don’t like it one bit,” he wrote. “Some people say I’m renting players or I’m working the system. Let me make this very clear: I want to coach players for four years.” So look at what the No. 1 Wildcats have here: Of the five who started in their runaway 84-70 triumph over No. 21 North Carolina the other day, improving to 11-0 this season, there was two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. And was only because another star junior, Alex Poythress, couldn’t play because of a season-ending knee injury in practice. For UCLA (8-3), it’s a freshman, two sophs, a junior and a senior who’ll get some optimal TV time in this contest, even if Steve Alford’s team may not be ready for it (you saw that game against Gonzaga, right?) UCLA hasn’t played Kentucky since a 73-68 win over the Wildcats in the 2006 Maui Invitational. We’re not sure if any of the players on each current rosters were even born then. This is the second half of a made-for-CBS neutral-site, “Final Four”-feel doubleheader, following North Carolina-Ohio State in the 10 a.m. opener

THE BEST OF THE REST:

The Kings’ next two games — Tuesday in St. Louis, and Thursday at home against the Blues — might see the return of 42-year-old Marty Brodeur in the net, as he makes good on a one-year contract with St. Louis (20-8-2) with Brian Elliott out and Jake Allen trying to cover things up. … The Clippers, losers of two straight after nine wins in a row, face Detroit at home on Monday, as the Pistons have won back-to-back road games to polish up their record to 5-19 …  More at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: So, Matt Kemp never put the ‘fun’ in fundamental?

May xx, 2013: Matt Kemp grimaces as he destroys his left ankle trying to cross the plate on a force play in a 9-2 win over Washington. (AP photo)

July, 2013: Matt Kemp grimaces as he destroys his left ankle trying to cross the plate on a force play in a 9-2 win over Washington. (AP photo)

The fundamental flaw in the Dodgers’ dastardly dispersal of Matt Kemp should be obvious – how do you simply give him, and a $32 million check, to a division rival that you have to compete against 19 times a year, including on opening day?

Most Dodgers fans who aren’t already overwrought with the ovewroughtness of the whole thing know there’s a second part to that question: How many of those 19 games will Kemp actually be healthy enough to play in?

6a00d83451b84f69e20120a560997f970cAnd the fundamental reason for that reality can’t be overlooked: Kemp never has and likely never will understand the fundamentals of the game.

Six years after he became the Dodgers’ regular center fielder, he’d continue to misjudge fly balls as if they were Frisbees thrown at him from home plate.

Eight years after his call-up, he’d still get picked off first base for no apparent reason other than he was leaning the wrong way.

From this day forward, it’s a guarantee that he’ll forget that the simple duty he has at the plate with a runner on third and less than two out is not to over-swing on the first pitch and pop out to the third baseman.

Kemp’s gifted athletic ability could often erase some of those mistakes – and when that happened, it was MVP-quality work on his resume. But only for short windows at a time.

That gift has been eroded by years of major injuries, some of them caused by his fundamental lack of fundamentals.

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Cover up and hide: Before Matt Kemp was @TheRealMattKemp — and a real deal sent him down San Diego way

Matt Kemp may have been the Dodgers’ most sought-after magazine coverboy since … Steve Garvey?
In light of the Dodgers’ trade, we’ve put a collection of tweets together marveling at all the times Kemp became front and center on a local periodical.
Now it’s time to turn the page … and stay classy:

22covv14_promo didn’t nix going to SD? Did someone lose a 1-on-1 game recently? No more fun n games?

 

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Weekly media column version 12.12.14: A dozen more things to pick up over the next 12 days before the national holiday gets all up in your chimney

The versions of "Unbroken" about Louis Zamperini come in all shapes and sizes these days, awaiting the release of the movie on Christmas Day.

The versions of “Unbroken” about Louis Zamperini come in all shapes and sizes these days, awaiting the release of the movie on Christmas Day.

What made it into the main event this week:

During the course of 2014, we’ve hit on some of the more intriguing sports-related books that we’ve actively sought out to write about. That includes the recent Al Michaels autobiography, new books by Dirk Hayhurst, about Nolan Ryan and Walter O’Malley, and the pursuit of the truth about Babe Ruth’s Called Shot from our annual 30 baseball book reviews last April, and there are even more we didn’t get around to mentioning.
Aside from those previous endorsements, here are the 12 suggestions we have for media-related gifts from this past year that we think will enhance the moment for someone dreaming of a sports Christmas, Hanukkah or Festivus for the rest of us:

From the print book world:

== “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” by Laura Hillenbrand:
IMG_2762If it’s not broke, there’s nothing to fix here – grab any of the versions that’ll be out now (original, adapted young adult, large print, audio) of the beyond-real life account of Louis Zamperini, four years after the first edition. It may have the “now a major motion picture” sticker on the cover — which will be accurate when the PG-13 movie version made by Angelia Jolie comes out on Christmas Day. If you can track down a signed copy from the late Torrance High and USC Olympian, cherish it more. His signature phrase before his autograph was “Be Hardy.” And if you want another accounts of his life, how about one first-person: “Devil At My Heals: A Heroic Olympian’s Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II” which first came out in 1956 but has been reissued in paperback about 10 years ago. There’s also the 2014 book, “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In” with David Rensin.

== “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances,” by Matthew Inman, AKA The Oatmeal:
9781449459956_p0_v3_s600From the guy who also wrote, “How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You” has put together a cartoonist’s guide as to why obesity is plotting to kill you unless you stop the process of treating your body “like a fast-moving dumpster” and eventually get inspired to ultra marathons as he did. Mark Remy, an editor at Runner’s World, says of this: “All runners wonder, at some point or another, why we do what we do. Mr. Inman’s explanation is the best I’ve ever seen. And the funniest. Because he is clinically insane.” There shouldn’t be any other words necessary to force you to run and find this book. Literally, run.

== “The Golf Book: 20 Years of the Players, Shots and Moments That Changed the Game,” by Chris Millard:
81cH04WEU5LThis may coincide with The Golf Channel’s existing for 20 years, but the purpose is also to give those who’ve covered the game a chance to explain the pros and cons for how the sport has embraced all these things like  iPhone GPS, high-def TV graphics, the abolishment of metal spikes, hybrid clubs and even advanced agronomy (that would be the uniform condition of the turf, including ways the fairways are groomed). Funny, but so many of the stories seem to circle back to Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book.
In other words: Keep it simple, stroker. That should include advice to Tiger Woods, prominently featured.

== “Eleventh Heaven: Ed O’Bannon and the 1995 National Basketball Champions UCLA Bruins,” by Rob Miech:
81BSOKgqEMLIn the court of law, O’Bannon’s decision to right a wrong – and winning his five-year anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA for its rules that prohibited athletes from being paid for use of their names, images and likeness — has raised his stature again. Twenty years after the Wooden Award winner lead the Bruins to their only non-Wooden coached national title, O’Bannon’s actions are viewed again through Miech, who writes: “For someone born and bred in Los Angeles, the timing of the title was poignant for Ed O’Bannon. His gargantuan role in restoring UCLA to prominence came during a dearth on the Southern California sporting landscape.” Miech also calculates that team played only a combined 640 games in the NBA, nearing just $9.1 million. O’Bannon accounted for half those games and a third of the money.

== “I Don’t Care If We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever,” by Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster:
51LDLFrdYXLOthers have tried this kind of buddy trip before, with vary degrees of success. But this is the one that should be adapted into a screen play. You’ve got two recent Harvard graduates (they worked together on the famous “Lampoon” and already have impeccable credentials on their resume) who want to do this thing for different reasons — Ben is the Red Sox fan who loves the game; Eric is the L.A. native who wants to see the country for what it’s worth and isn’t much of a baseball fan. They’re also analytic guys who set up various algorithms to make sure they complete this car trip in 30 days. But then there are weather issues. And time zone conversions they overlooked. Plan A becomes Plan X. Game 20 was in Anaheim to see the Angels, after leaving Arlington, Tex., and driving 21  hours in a 26-hour window, with a stop in Long Beach to visit Eric’s father and grandfather. Game 23 is at Dodger Stadium, coming down from Seattle on I-5 (on a trip that somehow had them heading back to Seattle at one point by accident), to capture what became a Yasiel Puig moment. A race that started in Yankee Stadium ends Toronto. On Canada Day. Fittingly, we guess. That’s the great American trip.

From the print photography world:

SMALLO9SelBL== “John Severson’s SURF” (Damiani/Puka Puka, 212 pages, $45). The founder of Surfer Magazine in 1960 started selling his oil paintings and prints about the California and Hawaiian surf culture at Long Beach State way back when, and now he has a place to publish his photographs and original art work. Now we also get to see surf posters that he did to accompany the movies he made 50 years ago. Wrote Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times SundayStyles section: “The book serves as a dual purpose as a celebration of a Zelig-like life to envy and as an implicit slap across the cheek of those status-conscious, white collar elements that are getting even fresher in their advances upon the wave-riding lifestyles that he helped start in the 1950s.”

51PsXQGV8tL== “Chasing Epic: The Snowboard Photography of Jeff Curtes,” (AMMO books, 84 pages, $39.95). The scenery is one thing, the athletes like Shawn White who look Photoshopped on to it are even more spectacular. To be fearless in this pursuit of pushing the snow-flaked envelope is something that someone like Curtes has to be as well in how he captures the moments, framing the mountainside against the sky and using the sun as the natural spotlight. It’s almost too perfect.

 

From the film world:

== The Los Angeles Kings 2014 Champions Blu-ray:
91-RsErl4lL._SL1500_ You’d think we would have rushed out to get this by now, eh? The NHL-produced 90-minute highlight reel from the Kings’ Stanley Cup run last summer was out in late July for $29.99. We’ve seen them lately in the $18.99 range. Are we already jaded because we ran out and bought all the stuff related to the 2012 championship? Maybe so, but it’s time to rectify the situation.
And for what it’s also worth: Track down the Kings’ official 2014-15 yearbook called “Sweet Sixteen,” a recap at every win that led up to the 2014 title, written by Jon Rosen and produced by the team’s staff led by Jeff Moeller and published by Professional Sports Publications.

== The collection at RareSportsFilms.com based in Naperville, Ill.: We constantly comb this for something new of something old. The latest one restored and released on DVD: The first two innings (45 minutes) of a black-and-white version of Vin Scully calling a Dodgers-Giants game on Memorial Day 40 years ago at Candlestick Park off a KTTV telecast. There’s also the Dick Enberg call of a complete Angels’ game in Milwaukee on July 16, 1972 from a KTLA telecast (the 1-0 game features two complete games in an hour and 50 minutes). Both are $29.95, plus $4 for shipping.

From the graphic art world:

FutbolisArt_TShirt_Blue_700px== “Futbol is Art … Be an Artist” is a stunning silk-screen unisex $29.99 T-shirt created by L.A.-based American Apparel and offered by SendaAthletics.com, a Berkeley-based fair trade soccer ball company that operates under the ethically-enhanced business model of guarantying living wages to the adult artisans around the globe who create the products. This shirt, according to Senda, is “inspired by the magic that happens on pick-up courts every day, and our view of soccer as a way to bring joy, friends, and good times into our lives.” American Apparel, by the way, articulates on its website of a vertical integration that insures its factory workers are the “highest paid worldwide for the manufacturing of apparel basics, and significantly more than California’s minimum wage … For them, higher pay is often a path to the American Dream for their families.” All purchases also help Senda contribute to helping non-profit partners (http://sendaathletics.com/senda-ambassadors/our-nonprofit-partners/). As for the Senda balls: The come from Pakistan, where 70 percent of soccer balls are made. But you can know these are far more ethically produced. More info: sendaathletics.com/sweatshop-free/.

From the multi-media art world:

bk08ghij== African Trash Art is the label under which some of the most creative use of recycled spark plugs and metal wiring come together as striking sculptures of athletes playing basketball, golf, tennis and weight lifting. The fairly-paid artisans from Burkina Faso created these pieces that go to about 7 inches tall and run $24 on the SwahiliModern.com website. Full disclosure as well: The statues are avallable for sale  at the new Ten Thousand Villages store in Redondo Beach. This is a fair-trade, non-profit store that I helped launch, giving up the full-time writing position with the Los Angeles News Group to become the store manager. I am no longer a paid employee of the store, working only on a volunteer basis. My wife is the board chairperson. All profits and donations go toward paying the rent, a couple of staff employees and what’s left is for buying new product — such as these pieces of art.

== A Dodger Stadium blueprint: Maybe not the original etchings, but an 11×17 inch retro creation by Blueprint Place, an Etsy.com store that seems to do a reverse engineering process on famous places with ammonia activate paper “on mid-century technology machines” to give it that amazing finish. At $14.99, there’s a cool blue print of the Dodgers’ blue home can be found using the search engine at www.etsy.com.

il_570xN.694358714_n47jThe other media notes of the week we’ve decided to add here:

== For those who missed Dick Enberg’s oh-my moment from a San Diego press conference after he was named the Ford Frick Award winner by the Baseball Hall of Fame, tear up as you listen to the great former San Fernando Valley State professor and once-glorious Angels play-by-play man describe it.
Here’s a link to video where Enberg is getting a congratulatory phone call from Vin Scully, one of committee voters for the award and a recipient some 32 years ago. And from the San Diego Union-Tribune story, which may now get buried by Matt Kemp news.

Also congrats to the Detroit News’ Tigers beat writer Tom Gage for his selection as the 2015 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, putting him into the Hall’s writers’ wing. Gage, on the beat for 36 years, won in a vote that the Baseball Writers Association of American says was the closest since the mail-balloting process started in 2002. The late Furman Bisher from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution finished second, with Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy third.

scullychristmas== That reference to “A Vin Scully Christmas” on last Sunday’s “I Won’t Be Home For Christmas” episode of “The Simpsons” (Season 26 Episode 9) did not escape our amusement, shown as a graphic as Marge Simpson was flipping through the TV options of what kind of Christmas music to play in the background during her decorating. Along with it, of course, came the Harry Shearer imitation of how the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster could work in a version of “The Night Before Christmas” into a broadcast: “And the baseball exclaimed as it flew out of sight: This ballpark is shorter in left field than right. … Martinez swings and misses. (Laughs) Yes, I’m recording this during a game.”

635535730677282631-USP-MLS-MLS-CUP-FINAL-NEW-ENGLAND-REVOLUTION-VS-L-69294020== Number crunching at the Sports Business Daily came up with more than 1.6 million viewers taking in ESPN and UniMas coverage of the Galaxy’s MLS Cup championship over New England last Sunday. ESPN (964,000 in 2014 vs. 505,000 in ’13) and UniMas (678,000 vs. 517,000) both had sizeable increases over the title game a year ago in a game marking the career-ender for Landon Donovan. It was ESPN’s largest MLS Cup game since 2011 (featuring the Galaxy and Houston, drawing 1.04 million, David Beckham’s first championship in L.A.). Boston (3.2) and Providence (1.9) were the top two ranked cities for the MLS Cup based on ratings, with L.A. coming in third at 1.7.

== Fox Sports says it has added former UCLA star goalie<strong> Brad Friedel</strong> back as a studio and game analyst for UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and England’s FA Cup coverage as well as the MLS, U.S. men’s national team matches and the FIFA Women’s World CUp in 2015. The 43-year-old Friedel, currently playing for the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur, worked at the network in the 2012 and 2013 UEFA Champions League Finals and did BBC work for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  “I’m looking forward to this next phase of my career,” he said. “I enjoy the media work and analysis, and the Fox Sports bouquet of soccer rights is compelling.”

== A nice piece by Ed Sherman on Pasadena-based John Schulian, whom we have had nice conversations with in the past regarding his John Lardner book, among many others. Continue reading

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Play It Forward Dec. 8-14: The MLB trading zoo could get wild in San Diego

Maybe the Tigers from Detroit will have more luck making noise in San Diego at the MLB Winter Meetings this week.

Maybe the Tigers from Detroit will have more luck making noise in San Diego at the MLB Winter Meetings this week.

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

NO. 1: MLB: WINTER MEETINGS
Details/TV: In San Diego, Monday-Thursday, MLB Network

ESPN’s Buster Olney knew enough to send out the tweet early last Friday morning: “Executives say that the volume of trade and deal conversation the last few days is rampant, and expect a flood of deals.” Man, it’s gonna be a zoo in San Diego this week, with or without the extra Coronas. The 113th annual MLB get-together of GMs, super agents and a players without borders appears to be a lot of headlines waiting to happen. Or will it? Is this where new Dodgers’ signal-caller Andrew Friedman ships Matt Kemp to Baltimore for a bunch of prospects, exports Andre Ethier anywhere to get a new shortstop, and/or pushes Carl Crawford back to Tampa Bay for a bag of marbles?
AP865622079045 Is the chance where the Angels’ Jerry Dipoto secretly positions himself to over-pay another over-hyped free agent (think Jon Lester, pictured here) just to steal someone else’s thunder blunder? And how will Scott Boras muck everything up? Deals will go down as much as in some swanky downtown hotel lobby as they will while feeding dollar bills into the lobster grab tank at Dick’s Last Resort in the Gaslamp Quarter. The other announcements we are braced for: Who, on this new “Golden Era” ballot — 10 players from 1947- 1972 who have been skipped over but get another shot by a special committee – might be added to the Baseball Hall of Fame? Former Dodgers Gil Hodges and Maury Wills are in the mix again, as is our favorite, Dick Allen. We find that out at an 11 a.m. reveal Monday.

THE BEST OF THE REST THIS WEEK:

The Clippers, winners of seven in a row, are still trying to bust out of that seven-hole range in the Western Conference, and they start the week against Phoenix (Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m.) before a three-game trip back East … UCLA has one of those RPI games against Gonzaga (at Pauley Pavilion, Saturday at 7 p.m.), their last home contest until Jan. 8  … UCLA men’s soccer team is one win away from the Men’s College Cup (Sunday, 9 a.m., ESPNU), with a game against Providence in the semifinals on Friday up first … See more of what’s ahead at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: Spring ahead if you want to be part of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum movement

Our collection of about 75 bobbleheads, on three different shelves here at the home office, includes one of me, a Christmas gift from my daughter, one of my bobble enablers. Why is Orel Hershiser glaring at me? Is Don Mattingly checking out my swing? You call it, Vinny.

Our collection of about 75 bobbleheads, on three different shelves here at the home office, includes one of me, a Christmas gift from my daughter, one of my bobble enablers. Why is Orel Hershiser glaring at me? Is Don Mattingly checking out my swing? You call it, Vinny.

Can you get your head around the idea of kicking in a couple bucks to help start the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum?

So you’re shaking your giant dome. But just like that Don Mattingly bobblehead up on our shelf, we’re not sure if that’s a yes or a no.

Put it this way: How has our great nation survived this long without such a shrine already?

login-logo“We get asked that a lot, and actually I just got an email the other day from a guy who registered our domain name two years ago (www.bobbleheadhall. com) and he never did anything with it,” said Phil Sklar, a Milwaukee resident who a few months ago left the world of corporate finance to become the official CEO and co-founder, with marketing partner Brad Novak, of this project that could up as early as 2016 as a homeless shelter for promotions gone too wacky a wobbler.

These two single, 30-year-old smart people – of course, if they were married, things would never have gotten this far – have essentially quit their old jobs and taken to a Kickstarter.com campaign aimed at raising  $250,000 by mid-January to spring forth this fragile dream to a resin-filled reality. Continue reading

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If you’re taking Instagram pix at Dodger Stadium these days, well, it ain’t so exclusive ….

There's an Instagram moment not taken by us this past season, but by the account of xxxx.

There’s an Instagram moment not taken by us this past season, but by the account of @austinwood12.

Major League Baseball wants it reported that fans who felt the love and wanted to share  personal photos from their in-park experience at Dodger Stadium in 2014 on their Instagram accounts were second only to those showing off that they were at Disneyland this past year, according to the social media site’s list of the 10 most popular locations.

Dodger Stadium is up to No. 2 after finishing No. 7 and No. 8 in the last two rankings.

Yankee Stadium finally got into the Top 10 for the first time, at No. 9, right behind New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Considering the other places folks Instagrammed around the world, the Dodger Stadium hotspot is pretty impressive. According to the list, Times Square in New York, Siam Paragon in Bangkok, Thailand; Gorky Park and Red Square in Moscow, Russia; the Louvre in Paris, and the Dubai Mall in United Arab Emirates were the others most famously photographed.

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Q&A with Jonny Moseley: On the secret of a Warren Miller ski film, and how to keep the winter vibe alive 65 years later

Oystein Aasheim does his thing on his native Norway slopes during the filming of the new Warren Miller Entertainment flick, "No Turning Back," which will be shown in Redondo Beach and Westwood village next week. Credit: Active Media

Oystein Aasheim does his thing on his native Norway slopes during the filming of the new Warren Miller Entertainment flick, “No Turning Back,” which will be shown in Redondo Beach and Westwood village next week. Credit: Active Interest Media

The latest of the Warren Miller-branded winter ski flick out this season goes by the working title “No Turning Back.”

Considering the way Miller name has been attached to these things for 65 years cool running, that could have been a more appropriate name for the first film. But in a way, we are turning back — the clock, to remember Miller and the legacy he started back in 1950.

Coming to Southern California for one-night stands in Redondo Beach and Westwood next week, “No Turning Back” hits all the right slopes of a vintage Miller travelogue – this time, from the peaks of Alaska and Switzerland to the valleys of Vail and Norway.

Warren Miller, right, in his hey day of filming ski movies.

Warren Miller, right, in his hey day of filming ski movies.

It’s true that the prolific filmmaker, who turned 90 in October, has not been hands-on at all with any of these “Miller” films for the last 10 years, and even less so since he sold his business in the late 1980s. His offices, studio and home used to be based in Hermosa Beach, but he spends his time these days at the Yellowstone Club resort in Montana as a ski ambassador, with his summers in the Seattle area.

Miller started it all quaintly enough from home movies he and friends made from trips to Squaw Valley in the 1940s.
1950_deep-and-lightHis first major film from that venture was called “Deep and Light,” released in 1950. What followed was a string of 90-minute sometimes campy documentaries that soon became his livelihood and legacy. After he sold his business rights away, he has nothing to do any more with the Warren Miller Entertainment name, as it currently operates through Active Interest Media.

Now the voice of the projects are handed over to 1998 Olympic skiing star Jonny Moseley, who took over narration role about eight years ago. He explains how he feels he owes it to everyone to keep the Miller vibe alive in the annual series:

Q: There are all kinds of new ways to show people enjoying a mountainside, whether on skis or snowboards or, in this film, a parachute. With all the new technology and new places to take this, do you feel like the heart and soul of a Warren Miller film is there today as much as it was years ago when you were a kid watching them?

media_ski-with-JonnyA: When I go to the shows to speak about them and present them, I’m always kind of looking for that. I’m sensitive to that. That’s really what the Warren Miller experience is about. He started it way back when make these little movies and then got up there and told stories about what he had filmed, and that’s what the audience connected to. Small or big audience. Since it’s gone to the narration included in the film instead of live, you have to continue to tell that story in the same ways. I just went to the shows in San Francisco and we got up there, told some stories, but the narrations and stories within the film still tell it, and I do think people at the shows are as jazzed up as they were back when I went. Particularly that parent combo with a teenager or an 8-year-old, you know, that’s what stood out to me. It’s hard to get a gauge on when you’re older. I’ve got my 7-year-old just starting to come into that age where we watch it together – that’s still very much alive.

Q: When you were watching these as a kid, did you get so stoked that you’d just want to run out of the building right away and head to the top of the nearest mountain? Continue reading

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Media column version 12.05.14: A doc fit for a King … and Bob Miller … plus, what does Taylor Twellman have to do to get Alexi Lalas off his back?

What is posted in this week’s sports media column:

The Internet Movie Data Base plot summary for the documentary “Voice of the King” explains that Hockey Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller has been “thrilling Kings fans with  accurate, honest, no-schtick” descriptions of the game since 1973, making him “the most popular hockey announcer in the history of Los Angeles, if not the National Hockey League.”
tumblr_n74fpiuvz81tamyy3o1_500What has got our interest most may be the last line in the paragraph: “The ending of the film will show you a part of Miller perhaps nobody knows.”
C’mon. Really?
Really, Miller says it’s OK to bring kids to the screening, which debuts Friday at the LA Live’s Regal Cinemas near Staples Center, outshining other offerings such as “Interstellar,” “The Hunger Games” and “Dumb and Dumber To.”
“I haven’t seen the film yet, but I think I know what that means,” Miller admitted this week about that teaser. “That is a proper description — and it’s all clean. This is a family film.”
Filmmaker Charlie Minn, whose own IMDB.com resume is all full of documentaries about murder, mystery and mayhem, decided to take a shot at a Miller portrait anyway, and the result will be out there to witness and report to local authorities.
To expand on the information about who’s included in the film — with Ed Roski listed as the executive producer: Not only is Miller’s wife, Judy, included, but so are his son Kevin and daughter Kristen, KSPN-AM (710) sports-talk host and Lakers play by play man John Ireland, radio host Tim Conway, Jr. and, former FSW game producer Bob Borgen.
Of course we’re not the only ones writing (or doing TV interviews) about this thing:
== FrozenRoyalty.net
== The OC Register
== FoxSportsWest.com
== Channel 11
== KSPN-AM 710′s Mason and Ireland
== The Kings website

== Strange to have to report that there is a report on FrozenRoyalty.net about how some Kings fans became upset when reporters were tweeting out a Slava Voynov sighting before a recent team practice — which resulted in a $100,000 fine for the franchise. The fans’ reasoning: The news would hurt the team, so it shouldn’t have been put out there. What maybe irked them more was that one of the three reporters present at the Tuesday morning skate was LAKingsInsider Jon Rosen, paid by the team to report on the team:

“I wonder where the NHL read about Slava skating with the team? ” wrote one Twitter user. “I hope the Kings take some of that $100,000 fine from your paycheck for deciding you had to share this with the world,” wrote another.
Listen, the reporters sensed something strange — maybe Voynov was approved to start playing and it hadn’t been announced. And they knew the difference between what they saw versus the individual time on the ice Voynov had been getting with an assistant coach while they all waited out his domestic violence legal matter. We’ll see, however, what kind of blowback comes to Jon Rosen, who may be between a rock and hard place, as current OC Register, former L.A. Daily News beat reporter and one-time LAKingsInsider Rich Hammond went though before leaving (story linked here).

What else is worth noting here:

8== Taylor Twellman, the lead ESPN soccer analyst who just signed an eight-year contract extension with the network, will be paired up with Adrian Healey on play-by-play, and joined by sideline reporter Monica Gonzalez on the ESPN coverage of the Galaxy-New England MLS Cup on Sunday at noon.
And there’s no doubt Twellman will be reminded that, when he was a member of four Revolution teams that made it to the MLS Cup final over a six-year span from 2002-07, the team didn’t win any of them.
25980_crop_340x234Of course, Alexi Lalas is up on his kickball history.
The star defender of the Galaxy team that won the MLS Cup in 2002 against New England, 1-0, in Foxoboro, Mass, was also a member of the Revolution from 1996-97. He was the Galaxy GM in 2005 when they again beat New England and Twellman, 1-0, in the 2005 MLS Cup.
“I have flashbacks every time L.A. and New England play — cold sweats, high fever, nausea … and not for good reasons,” Twellman said Thursday morning as he was driving in Boston to the airport to fly out to L.A. for the contest. “And Alexi will remind me that, for 90-minutes plus, he had me in his pocket during that 2002 championship game.
“It’ll all come up again this weekend. It has to. It’s part of the history. It’s got to be even a little weird for Alexi because he played for both teams. But you can be sure he reminds me of that history ever now and again … or at least once a month. And in fairness to him, everyone reminds me of that streak.”
lalas-and-ttLalas won’t be far from fanning the flames. He’s joined by Max Bretos and Kasey Keller on the pre-game, halftime and postgame shows.
The start of Twellman’s pro soccer career runs almost parallel to Landon Donovan’s. Both were playing professionally in Germany in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Twellman went to the MLS with New England in 2002; Donovan had joined San Jose in 2001.
But for Twellman, missing the 2008 and ’09 seasons after a neck injury and then a serious concussion suffered in a game against Donovan and the Galaxy in Aug., 2008, the end came too soon, and he was forced to retire at the end of the 2010 season — and donate his brain to science after his death to see how multiple concussions affected his life.
As a commentator, Twellman shows no effect of slowing down. And his appreciation for what Donovan has accomplished is genuine.
6a00d8341c630a53ef0128765c1ea7970c-320wi“This must be his 17th ‘last game’ in a row, right?” Twellman asked. “That’s got to be the biggest storyline to this game, and it affects everyone. It actually takes a lot of pressure away from him. And it gives New England extra incentive — not that they need it — to spoil the party.
“This should really be an exciting final match — a very open game. New England tends to give up goals early — they gave up six already during the playoffs — and it remains to be seen if, after they give up chances to the Galaxy, will they get their chances against the team with the best defense in the league?”
Twellman adds that the Galaxy’s 5-1 regular-season win over the Revolution back in July only adds “a little insight” into what could happen this time.
“To say this is the same New England team, and the same L.A. team … no,” he said.
And to say Seattle may have deserved to be in this spot instead of the Galaxy, after the teams split a Western Conference final series but L.A. advanced on more road goals isn’t where Twellman would go with the conversation either.
“L.A. got through it with the away goals, but in reality, it was 2-2 (in total goals). They were so evenly matched, and that’s why it was so interesting to watch. The fact the Galaxy got through without goals from Donovan or Gyasi Zardes shows the strength of the team. Seattle had plenty of chances to score a road goal, but it didn’t come through.”
In all ESPN has 12 commentators at the game, including five who are doing the Spanish call, and Healey, Twellman, Lalas and Stuart Holden, a member of the U.S. Men’s National team, will be part of a 30-minute “ESPN FC” show to preview the game on the game (Friday, 3 p.m., ESPNEWS)
ESPN says it will debut a new “graphic telestration system” that can tracks the movement of players in real-time. It can be used live or in a replay to show what’s going on.

== Very sad news about the passing of St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist and HBO “Inside the NFL” contributor Bryan Burwell at age 59.

== ESPN’s fifth ombudsman, Bob Lipsyte, posts his final column as the arbiter of all that happens at the giant company. Without trying to give away the ending, the first line of his last story: “ESPN is an empire.”
OK, we have to say his most important suggestion this time is pushing the idea of the creation of a new newtork — call it ESPN-J — where journalism workshops are taught to inner-city high school kids, by ESPN people. And who might learn more about journalism in the process? Right, ESPN. Continue reading

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