Media column version 11.21.14 — The Jackson family values start to tug on allegiances during USC-UCLA week

43ad60cd35874a9567bf051101683a9eWhat made it into this week’s media column, posted here:

John Jackson will be on the sideline for Saturday’s USC-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl. Not the John Jackson who’ll be in the radio booth on the Trojans’ coverage for the rivalry game on KSPN-AM (710).
imagesIt’s his son, John III, a freshman at Mater Dei high school — who has accepted a recruiting invite from UCLA. Bruins baseball coach John Savage wants to gauge his interest in the program, even though the Class of 2018 member and starting quarterback on the freshman football team has yet to start his high school baseball career. The Jackson Family Values will be a topic of discussion here, as well as John II’s approach in covering this contest 25 years after he left the USC program.
Jackson’s week isn’t just focused on USC-UCLA — he  also has to be in Valencia on Friday night to call the Upland-Hart CIF-SS high school football quarterfinal playoff game for Fox Sports West at 7:30 p.m.

What is best suited to be read in this spot:

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Q&A: Al Michaels books his career journey on growing up wanting to be like Scully but discovering other ‘Miracles’ along the way instead

 

Are they trying to get Al and Linda Michaels on the Staples Center "Kiss Cam" during a Kings game?

Are they trying to get Al and Linda Michaels on the Staples Center “Kiss Cam” during a Kings game?

If Al Michaels had decided to write a book about his life as network broadcaster just five years ago, it would have been missing the ultimate opening chapter.

LARGE0062314963The autobiography that comes out Tuesday called “You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television” ($28.99, HarperCollins, 288 pages) leads off with Michaels recounting the joy he and three generations of his family encountered sitting at Staples Center on June 11, 2012 – watching the Kings win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

It reminded him about how he felt about sports as a 6-year-old growing up in L.A., where he eventually attended the first Kings game in 1967 back at the Long Beach Arena.

He wrote:

“I’ve covered a couple of thousand sports events all over the world. I’ve called Super Bowls and World Series and NBA Finals, the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics – and have hosted the Stanley Cup Final. A number of years ago, a colleague at ABC figured out that I’ve appeared on live prime-time network television far more than anyone in history. But from day one, I’ve always tried to follow the advice the legendary sportscaster Curt Gowdy once gave me: Don’t ever get jaded.

“The Kings have helped take care of that. … When I go to a game, I don’t bring a media credential – I bring a ticket. I don’t have to prepare notes or try to gather nuggets of information in the locker room beforehand – I go straight to my seat. When I’m on the air, I work to be impartial. With the Kings, I can just be another fan who lives and dies with a team.”

SMALLBzO8USsIEAATn21 The Kings have thanked him not once, but twice now with special Stanley Cup visits to his home in Brentwood, so he and wife, Linda, their families can prolong the celebration.

Michaels, who turned 70 last week, could have been the Kings’ first colorman had owner Jack Kent Cooke not given the job to long-time friend Ed Fitkin to partner with Jiggs McDonald in the late ‘60s. In fact, Michaels once told us the story about how when he moved to L.A. as a 14-year-old in 1958, CBS did a game of the week and “I couldn’t wait for it. That was the only fix.” The Western Hockey League finally came to the L.A. Sports Arena.

But still …

“There was this annual thing that Gil Stratton used to do at Channel 2 every year where he’d read a letter asking Santa for certain things, and incorporate letters from viewers,” Michaels once told us. “I wrote a letter to Gil in 1959. And for some reason I didn’t use my real name. I signed it ‘George Exmont.’ I wanted Santa to bring us a National Hockey League team. He read it on the air in his newscast. My brother (David, five years younger) and I went wild. I loved Gil, because he was the only guy in town that gave you an NHL score.”

That story actually didn’t make it into the book. It was a story Michaels told us some 20 years ago for a piece we did on him for a Kings game program.

But Michaels, in his ninth season calling “Sunday Night Football” for NBC after 20 years of “Monday Night Football” for ABC,  remembers many other moments when the course of TV and sports history could have gone on a different path. He explained in a Q-and-A:

539wQ: We’ll skip to a chapter near the end of the book: You describe a meeting in a restroom with Lakers owner Jerry Buss. It’s 2003, at halftime during the Lakers-Spurs Game 5 playoff game — the Derek Fisher, 0.4-second finish – and you’re in San Antonio covering it for ABC with Doc Rivers as your analyst. Buss isn’t sure if Phil Jackson is going to come back to coach after the season. Rivers, fired from Orlando just a few games into that season, just agreed to coach the Boston Celtics the next year. So you run into Dr. Buss, and he admits to you that if Rivers hadn’t signed with Boston, he’d have been his first choice to coach the Lakers if Jackson left – which he did eventually. You’ve got this piece of information, finally decide to tell Rivers about what Buss said . . . and he gets quiet. “You know, I’m not sure if the ink on that Celtics contract is totally dry,” Rivers says. Did you think he might have changed his mind and gone after the Lakers job had things played out differently? Continue reading

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Play It Forward Nov. 17-23 on your calendar: As far as city ownership goes, UCLA’s claim is USC’s issue

1385873743000-USP-NCAA-Football-UCLA-at-Southern-California-001THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

USC at UCLA
Details/TV: Rose Bowl, Saturday at 5 p.m., Channel 7:
7945776The master scoreboard shows UCLA has won just 30 of the previous 83 meetings. But since Bruins coach Jim Mora has figured out a way to go 2-for-2 in his first two seasons running the program, there are no doubts left about any kind of monopoly swing. “UCLA runs L.A. now,” Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley could say with supreme confidence after he threw for 208 yards and ran for two touchdowns in a 35-14 win at the Coliseum last season — UCLA’s biggest margin of victory over USC since 1970 in a game where the Trojans came in favored by a field goal. Perhaps as a direct result of that, USC has its third different head coach on the sidelines in the last three years for this matchup.
Uscvictorybell-thumb-500x375-8722UCLA’s jump from No. 18 to 11 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, perhaps changing for the better when the latest is announced Tuesday, plus its home-field advantage, gives it a reasonable favored status — a field goal, by most oddsmakers. Plus, all that recent history thing, too. What other incentive is there to win? UCLA takes this one, and the last one against Stanford, and it wins the Pac-12 South. USC wins this one, and Arizona State loses one of its final two games, and the Trojans have the division title.

THE BEST OF THE REST:

GalaxyMLS PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
GALAXY vs. SEATTLE:
Details/TV: Leg 1: At Seattle, Saturday at 2 p.m., ESPN:
In the Landon Donovan-lives-to-play-another-round scenario, the Galaxy yielded the right to have home field for the second leg by losing to the Sounders in the season finale, 2-0, on two late goals by second-half substitute Marco Pappa. A 2-2 draw forged with Seattle in the next-to-last game of the season just a month ago came after the Galaxy had carved out a 2-0 lead at halftime. In their playoff history, the Galaxy have won the two previous series against the Sounders in 2010 and 2012.

BOXING: MANNY PACQUIAO vs. CHRIS ALGIERI
Details/TV: At Macau, China, Saturday at 6 p.m., HBO PPV ($69.95)
A month before this scheduled date to defend his WBO welterweight title, Pacquaio was playing in a pro basketball game in his native Philippines. “After he does (this fight), if he wants to try out for the New York Knicks, that’s OK with me,” said promoter Bob Arum. The 35-year-old Pacquaio (56-5-2, 38 KOs), still the lone congressional representative from the Sarangani Province of the Philippines, said basketball is good training for his footwork and balancing. Besides, the games are on Sunday, and he’s not training for fights on Sunday. Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) always has his bachelor of science degree in Health Care Management and a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition to fall back on. Chew on that.

Also:
The Clippers must figure out Chicago (Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) before heading out on a seven-game, 11-day road trip that starts in Orlando, Miami and Memphis …Long Beach State meets up with UCLA at Pauley Pavilion (Sunday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Net) after facing Xavier and Kansas State … More at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: When is class in session for USC-UCLA game?

Joyce and Tom Jackson hang out in the Rose Bowl tailgate section  before the UCLA-USC game in 2012.  (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Joyce and Tom Jackson hang out in the Rose Bowl tailgate section before the UCLA-USC game in 2012. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Aren’t you the guy who got your really nice blue-and-gold UCLA jacket kinda messed up trying to jump-start my car after someone pushed it into a golf-course sand trap next to the Rose Bowl on a dark and rainy night after a football game a few years back?

200_sMa’am, can I thank you again for the way you cleverly passed your Trojan hat around Section 21 at the Coliseum that time when you  realized I had just ordered a half-dozen hot dogs from a vendor for my family, but I apparently lost my wallet when I was just up at the restroom and I couldn’t pay the bill, so you rallied a bunch of USC fans around me to help with donations?

Maybe you can question the loyalty of a UCLA or a USC fan during rivalry week. But nothing rivals those actions-speak-louder-than-words moments when respect, integrity and dignity cross over all that cross-town battle babbling.

But now we need words, so here’s this week’s call to action as the 84th edition of this Game that Prefers to Be Nameless comes up in Pasadena: In 84 words or more, can you give us a story about someone who fits the bill of an upper-crust, ambassador-at-large supporter for either the Bruins or Trojans football programs? First-person, third-person, or any person accounts of something recalled that might help re-establish etiquette standards leading up to and surrounding this contest?

Maybe this request stems from apparent systemic problems that ridiculously come up this time of year, mostly presumed to be student-conduct issues – you may have seen that the Joe Bruin statue on the UCLA campus was already sprayed “SC runs LA” in red paint. The answer is to put the giant bear back “in hibernation,” surrounded by plywood. The coach John Wooden statue is also under duct-taped wraps, just like the Tommy Trojan statue on the USC campus. Student guards are posted to sleep overnight on a constant watch, because the surveillance cameras pointed everywhere can’t catch everything.

Oh, those wacky pranksters. No harm, no foul. Hardy har hijinx.

We’re still dealing with this felony vandalism garbage?

qx8ofgh7tbhe1oql2ambYou’ve now been charged with finding the moral compass in the haystack. Apparently there aren’t enough examples of what sportsmanship looks like. Kids being kids doesn’t cut it.

So, tell us your experiences of a USC-UCLA moment when someone made their mark doing something with class instead of crass.

Pledging allegiance to the Trojan Republic or Bruin Democracy is not so much about how you’d like to be remembered. Isn’t this more about how you should not be forgotten?

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Media column version 11.14.14 — How former UCLA coach Ben Howland says answering reporters questions gave him prep work to a TV analyst job at NBCSN

Remember the time during the 2013 Pac-12 basketball tournament when Ben Howland was so upset about an official's call he tossed his jacket into the crowd? That'll make for good TV with his new role at NBCSN. (Photo by USA Today)

Remember the time during the 2013 Pac-12 basketball tournament when Ben Howland was so upset about an official’s call he tossed his jacket into the crowd? That’ll make for good TV with his new role at NBCSN. (Photo by USA Today)

What made it into this week’s column linked here:

Former UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland may not be in the Dick Vitale bubble conversation about gregarious, made-for-TV game analysts, but that’s the path of least resistance that he’ll take for the 2014-15 season — NBCSN will announce today that he’s been hired to do a package of Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association games, starting with the Barclays Center Classic event in Brooklyn (Virginia, Vanderbilt, La Salle and Rutgers) on the day after Thanksgiving.

On the eve of a full-court scramble of the first night of college basketball on TV — ESPN and the Pac-12 Networks are the ones to have blazing Friday — we’ve talked to Howland, who is also returning as a studio analyst on Fox Sports 1, about how this works into his schedule a full season removed from Westwood, still living in Santa Barbara, and no doubt still considered a viable coaching candidate somewhere.

What seems just about right to log in here:

== We’re in full agreement with Deadspin.com about declaring Daniel Tosh the winner based on scientific evidence for how rebuttal rip-off of ESPN’s “Sports Science,” in response to how an ESPN fellow stole his “web redemption” segment for that singer who tripped and fell while doing the Canadian national anthem. When we saw the “Tosh.0″ episode as it ran on Comedy Central Tuesday, we couldn’t want to see the blowback. We did appreciate the one responder to the Deadspin.com post who wrote in headline style: “Guy Whose Entire Show Is Ripping Off Other People’s Content Upset That Someone Ripped Off His Content.” That’s how it works in today’s world o’ borrowing. And ESPN says it did not do anything wrong in trying to offer a snarky response.

== NBCSN says this morning that Wednesday night’s Kings-Ducks game from Anaheim had a 1.01 rating in L.A. — the second-best rating for an NHL regular-season game in the L.A. market on the cable channel. The first: Last season’s Kings-Ducks game from Dodger Stadium (2.38 rating). Better perspective: The 1.01 rating is more than 400 percent better than what the Ducks did on an NBCSN game in L.A. last season (0.2) and nearly 100 percent better than what the Kings did on NBCSN games in L.A. a season ago (0.55).

== More on the Dead-o-Spin radar: “The funniest man at ESPN” is, of course, Norman Chad, having just wrapped up the World Series of Poker for his 12th year at the network calling this thing. Almost as funny is how it took 4,400-plus words to quantify that obvious fact in a profile on him posted Tuesday about Chad.

== We choose to lay out and let you read these Grantland Dictionary: Sportscasting Edition entries to the fullest. Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Nov. 10-16 on your sports calendar — Steve Alford’s season on the brink isn’t Year 2 at UCLA, is it?

UCLABruins.com

UCLABruins.com

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: 2014-15 SEASON OPENERS:

UCLA vs. MONTANA STATE
Details/TV: Pauley Pavilion, Friday at 9 p.m., Pac-12 Network:

USC vs. PORTLAND STATE
Details/TV: Galen Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network:

CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE at SAN DIEGO STATE
Details/TV: Friday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports San Diego

LONG BEACH STATE at BYU
Details/TV: Friday at 4 p.m.

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT vs. S.E. MISSOURI
Details/TV: Gersten Pavilion, Friday at 6 p.m.

PEPPERDINE vs. FRESNO STATE
Details/TV: Firestone Fieldhouse, Friday at 7 p.m.

Steve Alford turns 50 years old later this month. And with that, a lot of us are feeling just a little bit older right now. For a simple reference point, flip back to the late ‘80s when John Feinstein’s book “A Season on the Brink” included the process by which Indiana coach Bob Knight tried to recruit the  hot-shot high school sophomore Alford. Now that the baby-faced Alford enters his 20th season as a Division I basketball coach, it this a make-or-brink moment for Year 2 at UCLA? He molded a 28-9 record and a Pac-12 Conference tournament championship in his first year, and that turned out to be pretty sweet – as in an eventual Sweet 16 appearance. But missing from this year’s roster are Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine and the Wear twins. Alford’s replenished with five freshmen, including Kevon Looney, who had a team-best 12 rebounds in an exhibition win over Azusa Pacific the other night, and 7-footer Thomas Welch, from Redondo Beach out of L.A. Loyola High. On the opening night of college hoops – where No. 1 Kentucky risks its credibility hosting Grand Canyon,  No. 2 Arizona stays home for Mt. St. Mary’s and Louisville’s Rick Pitino coaches against his son, Richard, the head coach at Minnesota, in Puerto Rico (ESPN, 4 p.m.) — the Bruins saddle up with the Bobcats of the Big Sky Conference for a tip-off so late, it’ll already be Saturday night in the East.
reggie-theus A few hours earlier,  Cal State Northridge will take on a much more challenging task. Coach Reggie Theus, also starting his second year, decided to measure his team up against No. 16 San Diego State, and follow that by going to Tucson to face the Wildcats (Sunday, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network). This Matadors team will end up playing at Oregon and at Louisville this season. Their Big West rivals at Long Beach State, where coach Dan Monson recently agreed to a five-year contract extension, put UCLA and Kansas State on its schedule early on as well. But for starters, the 49ers go to West Coast Conference challenger BYU in Provo, Utah, hoping their core group led by Mike Caffey, Nick Faust and Tyler Lamb are up for the challenge.
532a5d9b5b291.imageAs for the region’s WCC teams, Loyola Marymount turns to alum Mike Dunlap for his first year when the Lions host their own LMU Classic against SE Missouri and Boise State on back-to-back nights. Pepperdine, with alum Marty Wilson starting his fourth season as coach, take on Fresno State, which went 21-18 a year ago. The next night, there’s USC, a miserable 11-21 last season, going without a senior and with 11 sophomores and freshman. Andy Enfield’s  second season begins a matchup against the Big Sky’s Portland State.

THE REST OF THE WEEK:

dm_140826_mlb_braden_on_kershaw_trout1103USC goes Thursday night against Cal at the Coliseum (6 p.m., ESPN) as the prelude to facing UCLA and Notre Dame … The Baseball Writers Association of America is expected to give out its AL and NL MVP Awards to the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw on Thursday (3 p.m., MLB Network) … The Clippers have to wonder if Gregg Popovich is going to put out all his veterans when they meet San Antonio (Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) … The Kings and Ducks have to play each other five times in the regular season, but they’re going to knock out two of them in one week (Wednesday at Honda Center, 7 p.m., NBCSN; Saturday at Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSW, Prime) … John Force is in position again to win another Funny Car title when the NHRA’s 50th Auto Club Finals happen at the Pomona Fairgrounds (Sunday’s finals start at 3:25 p.m.; qualifying begins Thursday) … Oh, right, the Lakers … they’re going back-to-back in Memphis (Tuesday, 5 p.m.) and New Orleans (Wednesday, 5 p.m.) before coming home for San Antonio (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Golden State (Sunday, 6:30 p.m.). You’ve been warned …. And there’s even more at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: If a hunger to win won’t be satisfied by these Lakers, then where do we get our fill?

His friends at TNT are already projecting what Charles Barkley's weight will look like as he waits out the first Lakers win of 2014. (Photo: TNT)

His friends at TNT are already projecting what Charles Barkley’s weight will look like as he waits out the first Lakers win of 2014. (Photo: TNT)

Charles Barkley has made a solemn vow that he won’t eat another meal until the Lakers win a game. And you thought Tommy Lasorda on Slimfast was cruel and unusual self-inflicted punishment?

Kobe Bryant sits on the bench after rookie  Julius Randle breaks his leg in the Lakers' opener on  Oct. 28, (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Kobe Bryant sits on the bench after rookie Julius Randle breaks his leg in the Lakers’ opener on Oct. 28, (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

On the “Petros and Money” sports talk show, they’re holding a “Lakers Win Watch 2014” prediction contest. Kinda like “Storm Watch,” only it affects more people in L.A. Bill Macdonald, the Lakers TV play-by-play man, picked this coming Wednesday in New Orleans. He was laughed off the AM dial.

Over on the Lakers’ home station, Colin Cowherd likened the team to “the circus that comes through town, doesn’t treat the elephant well and makes everyone uneasy.”

Easy there. It all could be fixed in a jiff by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, knowing how the league can fix things when it needs to.

The man who has already made Donald Sterling disappear said this week he’d raise the minimum age for any player entering the league from 19 to 20 years old if he could. By the executive power vested in him by all the TV partners, can’t he automatically raise the minimum win total for the Lakers to a dozen by April, 2015?

Lawrence Tanter_ credit-Gary Friedman  Los Angeles Times  March 23, 2011This could be the point when Lawrence Tanter tantalizes the Staples Center crowd by introducing tonight’s starting lineup “for your Los Angeles Losers” with a microphone that loses its power. And if you’re trying to divert your attention from the scoreboard, check out those “Loser Girrrrrrls.”

The black jersey didn't help Kobe Bryant and the Lakers scare off the Clippers in their first meeting of the season on Halloween night.  (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)

The black jersey didn’t help Kobe Bryant and the Lakers scare off the Clippers in their first meeting of the season on Halloween night. (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)

It’s more and more appropriate that these lakers – and let’s go with the lower-case “L” at this point, because there are too many of these scarlet letters to count at this point — be con- demned to wear their black alternate jerseys, the ones with the sleeves. So when the Black Mamba is wearing his black armband, it’s not too noticeable.

There has to be a tipping point soon when Nike asks Kobe Bryant to film a commercial where he gets the entire city of Los Angeles to huddle up and “be relentless.”

Sorry, is that slogan taken?

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Media column version 11.07.14: There’s documentation of how to live, and still chase, a career dream in the sports media world

Kane County Chronicle sports writer Kevin Druley works on his story in the Kane County Cougars' press box after their game. (Photo provided by Patrick Lile)

Kane County Chronicle sports writer Kevin Druley works on his game story from the press box while covering the Single-A  Kane County Cougars, outside of Chicago. (Photo provided by R. Patrick Lile)

The focus of this week’s media column posted here:

In the span of an 18-minute documentary, R. Patrick Lile and Kevin Druley are linked for a lifetime. Where things end up, both are anxious to discover.
All-Sports-Logo960x360-v5Lile, a filmmaker who just turned 34 last week, created the thought-provoking piece entitled “Sportswriter,” one of the 50-plus entries in this weekend’s All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival.  The sixth annual event begins Friday and ends Sunday at the Regal Cinemas LA Live Stadium 14 near Staples Center.
Druley is the focus of “Sportswriter” as he narrates his own story — a 28-year-old covering minor-league baseball and high school events for the Kane County Chronicle, just west of Chicago.
Will he still be doing this, for the love of the games, in five years? Will the newspaper industry as we know it still be what he wants to be in? Will he connect for a career with his hometown St. Louis Post-Dispatch?
Both Lile and Druley are living their dream, and chasing it as well, in the sports media.
The film airs as part of the first session for the festival (Friday, noon to 1:45 p.m.), included in a block with six other shorts. Lile has also made it available for the time being to watch at this link.

What else is worth noting:

== What Druley wrote in the Kane County Chronicle last November about the experience of seeing himself in a documentary about his life.

== From an email exchange with Lile, now working as a program assistant at Northwestern University’s School of Communications in its Radio/TV/Film department, we asked what he thought about Druley’s chances of making it in the newspaper world and satisfying his career goal: “Having read a lot Kevin’s articles and also being an avid reader of other sports columnists, I’m not sure what separates him from the guys writing for Sports Illustrated, ESPN or one of our Chicago sports pages. Kevin wrote an article about Cubs prospect Albert Almora that’s so good the Chicago Tribune should have been knocking on his door begging him to write for them. And even beyond the minor league baseball beat, Kevin gets to do some really interesting articles on everything from amateur wrestling to high school sports.  Ultimately I’m not sure what separates the Rick Reillys, Mike Wilbons and the other big names from guys like Kevin.  Sometimes it is just an opportunity and someone getting a chance.
“As for reaching that satisfying career goal, Kevin mentions during the film that he has found more fulfillment with his personal life.  When your dreams go from being only about your professional life and suddenly you dream about having a family, that ultimate career goal might change a little. You find more appreciation in your personal life. That’s certainly true for myself as I have started a family and have 8 month old twins since making the film.”
We also asked Lile if it’s difficult to separate his own emotions from the subject as he’s making his documentary, especially this one: “As I was making ‘Sportswriter’, I was also working with Kartemquin Films, the social issue documentary company that produced ‘Hoop Dreams,’ ‘The Interrupters’ and ‘Life Itself.’  Working with those very accomplished filmmakers on those very accomplished films, there is a constant reminder that you’re making films about people, not about subjects. On other films I have had to put down the camera to allow a person to grieve, give them their space. If you’re doing your job as a filmmaker, you should be connecting with the people you’re making a film about because it is a very collaborative process. It’s hard to separate your emotions as your making a film, because in the end you really do care about these people. Unless you’re doing some sort of burn piece or an exposé, you have to care in order to be an effective filmmaker.”

Art created by DeviantArt.com.

Art created by DeviantArt.com.

== More highlights of the All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival: “The Hank Gathers Story,” included in Sunday’s 2-to-3:30 p.m. block, is part of a “Memorable Moments” series from Yahoo.com Sports documentary executive producer Alan Springer, with this 10-minute doc directed and produced by Jackie Pepper. The series has been around for five seasons and 42 episodes. Last month, it won an Edward R. Murrow award for “Best Sports Journalism”  for a Loyola-Mississippi State piece about how that basketball game in 1963 helped change sports history.

== The festival ends with a screening of “The 25,000 Mile Love Story,” which has been winning festival accolates going back to its release a year ago. It was the “Feature Audience Favorite” of the 2013 Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. An L.A. Times review here of the film and the book after it came out.
The film airs Sunday at 6 p.m., with the awards ceremony starting at 8 p.m.
Friday’s opening night is highlighted by the L.A. premiere of “Out of Nothing,” about four men who try to break the motorcycle land speed record on their homemade machines. Actor/comedian Ryan Stiles produced the film that will be shown at 8:15 p.m., with friend Drew Carey expected to attend.

== Next in line for ESPN’s “30 For 30″ documentary series: “Rand University,” about the early life and times of former NFL receiver and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Randy Moss (Tuesday, 5 p.m., ESPN).
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Think of the Clippers as the first to dive into Google TV … or Netflix … or whatever Steve Ballmer dreams up

Then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, left, shakes hands with former NBA players Bill Russell, right, and "Downtown" Freddie Brown during an NCAA college basketball game between Washington and Oregon State in Seattle. Now that Ballmer is owner of the Clippers, what's the next step in him renewing the team's media-rights deal that can justify spending $2 billion to buy the team?  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) ORG XMIT: NY155

Then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, left, shakes hands with former NBA players Bill Russell, right, and “Downtown” Freddie Brown during an NCAA college basketball game between Washington and Oregon State in Seattle earlier this year. Now that Ballmer is owner of the Clippers, what’s the next step in him renewing the team’s media-rights deal that can justify spending $2 billion to buy the team? (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) ORG XMIT: NY155

There may be nobody better suited to lead sports television into a new era than a former Microsoft CEO who seems to live by a motto of “hard-core energy.”

Though he may not relish being saddled with the responsibility, Steve Ballmer could be the perfect candidate at the perfect time to capitalize on his latest investment.

After shelling out $2 billion to purchase the Clippers this past summer, money may be enough to motivate a diversion from the eroding conventional cable model in an effort to begin recouping the largest sum ever paid for a professional sports franchise in North America.

Particularly because of the proximity to the Dodgers, whose latest TV contract may have burst the country’s regional sports television bubble, and the Lakers, who had trouble partnering with Time Warner Cable to launch their own regional sports channel, the ripple effect could move the Clippers to get creative in selling its media rights to a new technology.

But when the Clippers’ modest $20 million per year TV contract with Fox Sports West’s Prime Ticket expires after the 2015-16 season, the conventional options for the NBA franchise appear limited. Which may play right into Ballmer’s wheelhouse.

Read more at this link ….

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Q&A: CBS NFL analyst Tony Gonzalez says he’ll take a pass on NFL, even if they keep calling

gonz5Tony Gonzalez admits his body thanks him every morning now for leaving the NFL playing field after 17 seasons. His wife and kids thank him for being around the house this  time of year. CBS is thankful to have him on its NFL pregame show every Sunday.

tony-gonzalez-game-worn-forever-collectibles-bobblehead-3336281So why would he even consider the thankless job of returning to the league for one last, last, last chance to join a team that might have the goods of making it to the Super Bowl and potentially winning a title – something he’s never experience as a 14-time Pro Bowl tight end?

Thanks, but no thanks.

“I’m still getting a couple – I can’t tell you who they’re from, but they’re still asking,” Gonzalez said about the number of teams that have called about his playing availability as the last two months of the season are here.

And you are telling them . . . ?

“I’m not going anywhere,” he clarifies. “All I have to do now is stand on the sidelines of a Thursday night game, and I can see why I no longer play this game. These guys are comin’, hittin’, all the work that goes into it . . .

“Plus, I’ve lost so much weight now. If teams saw me without my shirt on – let’s just say it ain’t what it used to be.”

Tony Gonzalez, right, with Falcons teammate Matt Ryan.

Tony Gonzalez, right, with Falcons teammate Matt Ryan.

He’s already locked down league career records at his position with receptions (1,325), yards receiving (15,127), touchdown catches (111) and 100-yard receiving games (31), spread out over a dozen years in Kansas City and five in Atlanta. The toughest routes that the 38-year-old Gonzalez must navigate now have to do with efficient air travel from Orange County to New York to make it for CBS’s “NFL Today” appearances.

Born in Torrance, and a resident of Long Beach, Manhattan Beach and many Southern California points in between before returning to his Huntington Beach beachhead, Gonzalez has put his NFL work ethic into play as he makes this latest transition. Some can do it seamlessly. Others struggle. Gonzalez, as a TV rookie, has ended up on a tight learning curve:

Q: You’ve made it look pretty smooth move on the CBS set half way through the first season. How much more polishing is there still to be done?
gonz1A:
The way I’ve approached this whole thing is to ask a lot of questions, maybe annoyingly so. I’m surrounded by such a great group of guys who have been there, done that. JB (James Brown) sits right next to me, coach (Bill) Cowher, Boomer (Esiason) – I’ve been picking their brains. CBS even hired me a coach to teach me the mechanics of TV (Arthur Joseph, of VocalAwareness.com), and he’s done wonders for me. I’m good friends with (Pro Football Hall of Famer and Fox NFL studio analyst) Michael Strahan, so I’ve pestered him a lot about how he does it. And then I practice a lot – I talk to myself a lot. I’m working my butt off to make sure I’m good at it.

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