The Danettes got a make-over on Friday.
It forced Dan Patrick to start his show flying solo. A pilot without an air traffic controller.
Awkward. On several levels. Especially after the four finally appeared, and their new stylists admitted to “Googling them” before sizing them up.
They cleaned up well, but the nitty gritty of it all, watching and listening to the show daily and observing the way they interact as a sounding board for Patrick, characters in a reality show, plus having to be functional member for Dan Patrick on his morning sports-talk show (6-to-9 a.m. on KLAC-AM 570, simulcast on DirecTV’s Audience Network and NBCSN), the thoughts do occur: A) It doesn’t look that taxing.
B) How much does it pay?
“They make it look a whole lot easier than what it is,” Patrick warns. “I think that’s sort of the novelty of what we do. You want it to sound great, look great, feel great. It’s a job you want.”
So, why not us as a “Danette” in training?
Set up not so much as an intervention, but an invitation to shed more light on the process, we gathered executive directors Paul Pabst and Todd Fritz, director of operations Patrick “Seton” O’Connor and blogger/Sports Illustrated writer Andrew “McLovin” Perloff after Thursday’s show at the DirecTV studios in Marina del Rey.
They could have easily gone back to their hotel to take a quick nap before submitting themselves to the “Sports Jeopardy!” appearance they had later that day.
Instead, they did a bigger reveal, one they probably hadn’t done much of since they last were asked to do a thing called “The Box Score” post-show breakdown.
For the record, the Danettes have been together since Perloff was the last addition in the fall of 2007. When Patrick left ESPN earlier that year, he recruited Pabst and Fritz, whom he had worked with at the network going back to 2002, and then hired O’Connor.
In their ninth year together, the bond continues to strengthen. There’s no weak links.
Take notes, my friends. Pretend you’re me (asking the questions in boldface italic), and read between the lines (noting a condensed version of this appears in the Sunday print editions and online at dailynews.com)
During their time in L.A. this trip, the Dan Patrick Show made it out to an Adam Sandler movie premiere. From left: Patrick “Seton” O’Connor, Andrew “McLovin'” Perloff, Tod “Fritzy” Fritz, Dan “Dan” Patrick and Paul “Paulie” Pabst. Photo by DJ Spahr/DirecTV
Does age work against me? I probably skew closer to Dan’s age than yours? (For the record, all four are married and with at least one child. Pabst and Fritz are 46, Perloff is 44 and O’Connor is 37). Pabst: I actually think being too young might hurt. You need some knowledge of sports history, and you’ve got to have some skeletons in your closet. Some baggage on your person, your psyche. A 22-year-old, what we might do to him would not be fair … Fritz: To have a strong sense of humor you need a certain amount of live experience and observations to be able to … Pabst (to Fritz): When is yours going to hit? Continue reading →
Dan Patrick, left, and his “Danette” support staff (from right) Paul Pabst, Seton O’Connor, Todd Fritz and Andrew Perloff, convene for Thursday’s show at the DirecTV studios in Marina del Rey.
What’s coming up for Sunday:
Dan Patrick has a decision to make about his career. Not any time soon, but soon enough.
Patrick, who just turned 60, has two years left on a contract to do his “Dan Patrick Show” syndicated radio program that simulcasts as a TV product on DirecTV and NBCSN every weekday morning from 6-to-9 a.m. (heard in Southern California on KLAC 570-AM).
He says he’ll decide in about a year how much longer he wants to do this.
Whatever happens also affects the future of “The Danettes.” Executive producers Paul Pabst and Todd Fritz, technical wizard Patrick “Seton” O’Connor and social media writer/Sports Illustrated editor Andrew “McLovin” Perloff have as much invested in the show’s success in a way that affects the listener/viewer who thinks he or she could join the club someday.
The chemistry works and the brotherhood is clear.
“I’ve told them this will be the best job they’ll ever have,” Patrick said after a recent show from the DirecTV studios in Marina del Rey as the staff made one of its once-every-three-months trip to L.A. from the Milford, Conn., studios. The trip is so that Patrick can tape more episodes of “Sports Jeopardy!” from the Sony studios in Culver City.
“I put the onus on them (about continuing the show). As long as we’re having fun, I’ll continue. If not, and some of them want to try something else, they’re all talented enough to do other things. But once this is done, it’s done. Kind of like when Keith (Olbermann) left ESPN to do Fox Sports … I had something special for five years, then it was done. It could never happen again.
“I’ve told these guys, let’s keep this in tact as long as you can because you’ll look back and say: I wish we could have done it longer.”
But then again, it got us thinking: What would it take to be considered “Danette” material if a spot ever opened?
What’s the “Danette” etiquette on just broaching this?
We put that question to them in a quasi group interview and got some interesting feedback. The results are the foundation of Sunday’s media column and an extended Q&A post here.
What’s worth putting forward here and now:
== About half-way into a six-episode run of the new Smithsonian Channel series “Sports Detectives,” and the documented search for Kirk GIbson’s 1988 World Series Game 1 home run ball is on the docket.
Half of the hour-long show Sunday at 9 p.m. hosted by Lauren Gardner and Kevin Barrows is dedicated to this pursuit, with the other half trying to verify the authenticity of a Lou Gehrig bat that a woman had kept in her house for some 40 years without knowing its history.
So … was the Gibson ball found? Put it this way: If it was, wouldn’t we have likely heard about it by now? But then again …
The ball’s search as an element of this series that seeks to link the history to a lost sports artifact began long before last year, when we talked to New York-based documentarian Brian Biegel and author of the astounding real life mystery book of 2009, “Miracle Ball: My Hunt for the Shot Heard ‘Round the World” on the Bobby Thomson 1951 home-run ball against the Dodgers.
The “Miracle Ball” in the Shot Heard ‘Round Chavez Ravine and beyond by Gibson had presented some myth-busting material that some writers had pursued a bit but no one, before Biegel’s crew, had really challenged.
The foundation of this “Sports Detectives” piece starts with writer David Davis and his 2013 piece for SBNation. We’re not going to spoil anything in this storytelling, but let Biegel explain that the “lead suspects” were found and interviewed, even submit to a polygraph test, some video analysis was done and more lab work on a photograph with a time stamp that appears to show the ball later that night. Davis, and Dodgers team historian Mark Langill, are included in the piece, as is Oakland pitcher Dennis Eckersley. So, too, are Doug and Chad Dreier, who in 2010 spent some $1.9 million at auction to secure Gibson’s helmet, jersey and bat from that game.
They’d love to add the ball. Anyone willing to give it up?
“We eliminated some clues that we knew were dead ends and did a nice job focusing on the more credible information and took it as far as we could,” said Biegel. “I’m pleased, and proud, to have been part of hunting down the ball — however it turns out. It was quite a journey.”
Same with this other piece Sunday about the Gehrig bat, which we won’t attempt to spoil the viewing experience. This episode repeats later Sunday at midnight and Monday at 10 p.m.
Biegel believes this series on the Smithsonian Channel, owned by CBS and Showtime, has more than a healthy shelf life based on what they’ve been able to produce so far and what could come out of it. Still to air is the pursuit of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point basketball and Muhammad Ali’s 1960 Olympic boxing gold medal.
“This series could go on for years,” said Biegel. “The history behind sports is what people love and each time we get new objects, the viewer gets a chance to watch history unfold.”
At the NFL owners meetings last March, HBO, NFL Films and the Rams got together and decided that, for the upcoming episode of documentary series “Hard Knocks” that would air this fall, the franchise that just got approved of a move from St. Louis back to Los Angeles was the no-brainer story worth telling.
“As soon as the announcement was made that the Rams were returning to Los Angeles, I really think it was a three-way tie between the organizations calling each other and saying, ‘This makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?'” said coordinating producer Ken Rodgers. So while the Rams have held workouts the last few weeks at a makeshift facility at a Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, drafting a new overall No. 1 quarterback along the way, HBO’s camera crews have already been there to record things.
Rodgers, along with “Hard Knocks” director Matt Dissinger, estimate they’ve already collected about 100 hours of material, sent via Internet portals to editing bays at the NFL Films’ offices in New Jersey.
But the crazy thing is, a great portion of that may never be used. It all depends on what happens when the Rams open camp in late July in Irvine, and the show begins its tape-to-edit-to-air process in early August for five episodes.
More heck could break loose between then and now. This is Hollywood, after all.
We caught up with the “Hard Knocks” execs after Thursday’s team workouts as they started to feel their way around this storyline — the first time that the series in its 11 incarnations has had to deal with a franchise transfer — and got their thoughts going into this project as the trailer for the show is already viewer-ready and Southern California News Group columnist Mark Whicker has already dived into the pros and cons of what the Rams face based on past “Hard Knocks” history.
And to say these “Hard Knocks” players with HBO and NFL Films aren’t riding something of a euphoric high: The show won two Sports Emmys at this past week’s ceremony in New York in the 37th annual ceremony, based on their work in 2015 chronicling the Houston Texans. It won for Outstanding Serialized Sports Documentary and Outstanding Post-Produced Audio/Sound.
That brings the total Emmys for the series over the years to … is it 14?
UPDATE: The link to the Sunday column is here.
What’s worth posting now:
== A 5,600-word piece on Vin Scully superbly crafted by Tom Verducci in the current issue of Sports Illustrated cuts to the heart of what Los Angeles has known for years — the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster is just like your best friend. Verducci conveys that sentiment in what has become the latest in the media-generated celebration of Scully’s career as we get into what is presumed to be Scully’s 67th and final season
Add in the calculation by Verducci that Scully has broadcast nearly half of the Dodgers games ever played. The franchise began in 1890. Scully started in 1950. It boggles the mind.
The two-part video Q-and-A on SINow.com — the first part on his career, and the second part on his legacy — is sugar-free frosting on the cake.
What’s new about this piece: Scully finally made the magazine’s cover, albeit a strange representation of half-photo, half-clay figure that looks like something out of the Tom Hanks in “The Polar Express.”
Still, SI’s own managing editor Chris Stone calls it in a tweet: “Inarguably the most overdue cover in @sinow history.”
We asked Verducci if in the process of putting this long-form piece together, there were some gems he had to leave out.
What’s the writer’s cut from a project that could have gone on for volumes?
Verducci, who continues to write for SI.com, do game work and reporting for the MLB Network and, despite changes in the Fox Sports MLB lead team, is a game analyst, was kind enough to reply:
One of the real treats in talking to Vin is listening to him talk about Jackie Robinson. I did write about the story of Vin being in a training room with Jackie and Pee Wee immediately after the Dodgers lost to the Giants in 1951 on the Bobby Thomson home run. Vin also told the story about how Jackie wanted to challenge him to an ice skating race at Grossinger’s in New York during a Dodgers winter caravan – even though Jackie never had been on skates before. “The competitiveness would just drive him to learn to do something he had never even tried before,” Vin said. They didn’t race, but they did pose for a picture. And then there is something I hadn’t heard before: “I remember a hot day in Philadelphia. Shibe Park. There was one exit, and I came out of the exit. The bus was right there. It was really hot. There was a man with a small table and he was cutting a watermelon, and as I came out he handed me his watermelon. “‘Oh, great. Thanks.'” “I got on the bus. All the players who had been ahead of me, they all had watermelon. Jackie came out the door, and when this man said, ‘Have a piece of watermelon.’
Jackie went ballistic. “Now, I don’t mean to put on a big show or anything, but he was furious. The players hollered from the bus and held up Jackie. And then he realized, this man was actually giving cold slices of watermelon on a brutally hot day in Philadelphia. “So he was right on the edge all the time, as you well imagined. So I guess this long winded answer to your question [about Jackie] is that he was a very complicated man who was able to control all of those burning desires he had right to the very end.” For those fortunate enough to listen to Scully call that April 15 game recently between the Dodgers and Giants at Dodger Stadium for SportsNetLA — the annual Jackie Robinson Day celebration — they may recall that story. For those who didn’t, like Verducci, and for those who don’t mind hearing it again, it’s just another gem.
== Verducci goes on Dan Patrick’s show to talk about the interview (above).
== Joe Davis, who we continue to be impressed with as he does a schedule of Dodgers’ road games thus far, is paired with Verducci and Ken Rosenthal on the Houston-Boston game from Fenway Park on Saturday (10 a.m., FS1), followed by Justin Kutcher and CJ Nitkowski at Minnesota-Cleveland (1 p.m.). Verducci is also on the team with Bob Costas and John Smoltz calling Washington-N.Y. Mets on Thursday at 4 p.m. for MLB Net.
In addition to the story posted on ESPN MLB analyst Jessica Mendoza and how she balances her career and work in light of having to be away from her two young sons on Mother’s Day tonight, there are some other things mom-related we covered in a recent interview:
Q: What’s easier for you to deal with these days: A full diaper at a restaurant, the perils of potty training or a poorly presented review of your TV work on social media?
A: I feel like those who critique me, I don’t necessary have to deal with them. But you just can’t ignore a dirty diaper in a restaurant. That’s true responsibility, you gotta deal with it. And the sad part is I like to interact with people. I’ll spend a good window post-Sunday night game looking at my full Twitter box, flooded with people writing things good and bad. I let it go and maybe once the weekend is over, I’ll get back on and chat it up with people.
Q: A story a few years ago in Fitness magazine asked how you define “mother” and you talked about how if the world were run by mothers, we would always have peace. That was pretty profound … but true. Have you thought more about that?
A: I just know what I feel, and the conversations I’ve had with my kids. In places I’ve traveled — Rwanda, South Africa, so many places around the world now — my reaction always to visiting a war-driven area is, ‘I never want to harm any innocent people or children.’ Maybe that’s more than just the mother in me. I’m sure plenty of dads feel the same way. But when I talk to my 6-year-old, sometimes he’ll say something like, ‘If we ever see a bad guy, I’m going to get him. He’s never going to live again.’ I have to explain to him that in my opinion, there aren’t any bad guys, there are just good people who sometimes make bad decisions. We need to give them an opportunity to become good again. Sometime, society puts bad people in cartoons or whatever, it’s ‘get the bad guys … get rid of them.’ It’s our job to educate our kids and tell them now to be good.
Q: One child can be tough to handle. Two kids, sometimes it’s like it’s 10 times more degree of difficulty. How is it for you?
A: I actually love it more because they entertain each other a lot now. The can wrestle around more, and have fun together. My 6-year-old can read books to the 2-year-old. It’s really hard to imagine life without two — although it sure was easier at one time to pack up and go with just one. When I was playing pro softball, and we had a house in California and Florida, and I was playing in a different city each night — I look back on that and see, what we did was kind of insane. That did change a lot with two. It’s not as simple as throw it all in a backpack and here we go.
Q: Two boys. Ever think of trying to add a girl to the mix?
A: We talk about it all the time, but right now, with the way my career is going, that would be hard to fathom, another one. It’s funny that I’ve always wanted boys. The part of me that would like a girl is because I do so much speaking to groups of girls, mostly in the 12-to-18 range, trying to talk about body image and all things they are dealing with. But then I realize having two boys can be just as impactful, if not more. That’s the other side of it, how men treat women. I’ve been lucky to have a great dad treat me so well and generously, coach me up like he would his son and boys. Even in the field I work with, I know men can be as impactful as women in stressing equality. I might hear my 6-year-old say, ‘Girls aren’t as fast, mom.’ And as soon as those words come out, I see my husband react and I’ll sit back and say, ‘This is going to be good.’ I’m always telling him, ‘Just so you know, girls are faster, and probably smarter than boys.’
We’ve been fortunate enough to have people like Linda Cohn, Andrea Kremer, Chris McKendry, Alex Flanagan, Jeanie Zelasko and Colleen Dominguez share their stories on Mother’s Day past — how does momhood work in the sports media business, finding balance the work and parenting schedules so they feel they’re doing the right things at the right time? It takes a sports village to raise a family, as it turns out. Moms network, share strategies, compare and contrast methods before doing their video homework or draw up interview questions.
Thanks to ESPN’s new “Sunday Night Baseball” analyst Jessica Mendoza and her mother, Karen, for spending some time with us to talk about their relationship and how lessons learned impact Jessica and her stay-at-home husband Adam as they care for their 6-year-old Caleb and 2-year-old Caden in Moorpark, with the grandparents not too far away still in Camarillo.
Medoza will spend Mother’s Day at Yankee Stadium on Sunday doing the Red Sox-Yankees game, and then be at Dodger Stadium on May 15 for the Dodgers-Cardinals telecast on ESPN.
What’s worth posting now:
== The Sunday ESPN “SportsCenter” Mother’s Day related story focuses on Peggy Nibert, wife of Presbyterian College basketball coach Gregg Nibert, and the foster parenting they’ve done over the years — taking in children that have been abused with injuries and broken bones since 2006. Tom Rinaldi has the story that starts with the 7 a.m. edition of “SportsCenter” and airs throughout the day.
BTW: The NCAA.com posted a 7-minute story on this in 2015 and another nice piece on this was done by AmericanSportsNet.com.
== And all these thoughts of mothering reminds us of a piece we still enjoy reading from Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated last summer talking to various TV sports talent and their pregnant pauses as they become visible on camera with a baby on board.
== With his Poynter.org column, Ed Sherman gets into more about the #MoreThanMean video that’s been getting millions of views. Says ESPN’s Sarah Spain: “Part of the issue, which is just as unfortunate, is just having women talk about the abuse, for whatever reason, is not as powerful as seeing the reaction of the men in the video.
“There is a larger discussion about whether women are believed by society. When we talk about it, it gets dismissed as a women just being upset or getting carried away. As much as it stinks that the power needs to come from a man’s reaction, it is what makes the video so striking.”
== As the Rams are deciding whether to go with the iHeartRadio family as its Southern California flagship station (which would include games on the FM and AM side) as opposed to taking a deal with ESPN’s 710 affiliate, the Padres said this week they’re heading to the FM dial, the modern rock KBZT-FM 94.9 starting in 2017. They’re currently heard on XEPRS-AM 1090, aka the Mighty 1090.
== More public posturing and playing to the masses with the Dodgers-SportsNet LA distribution … c’mon. Frontier still hasn’t figured out how to get old Verizon FIOS customers off their old system yet. Think that’s their top priority at the moment?
== NBC isn’t horsing around with its coverage of the 142nd Kentucky Derby, which should sync up air at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday (KNBC-Channel 4). NBCSN’s pre-race events start at noon and it shifts over to NBC at 1 p.m.
(The race will be strategically sandwiched between two NHL playoff games as well — Game 5 of St. Louis-Dallas at 10 a.m., and then Game 5 of Pittsburgh-Washington at 4:15 p.m., both on Channel 4. If the Blues-Stars game run into OT, it’ll be continued on NBCSN until its conclusion.) The net says it has the “most comprehensive coverage in Kentucky Derby history,” with an excess of 50 cameras, including a new 360-degree robotic camera on the infield and an 80-foot high camera on the Churchill Downs video board. Finally, too, will be a camera on race caller Larry Collmus. Bob Costas and Tom Hammond are the hosts with analysts Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey, handicappers Bob Neumeier and Eddie Olczyk, reporters Laffit Pincay III, Kenny Rice, Donna Brothers and Jay Privman, plus Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski in as the fashion experts and Rutledge Wood, who is part of NBC’s NASCAR coverage, included as a social media reporter using a 55-inch touch screen in the paddock area to show all the trends happening. Yes, It’s come to this. Rob Hyland is the coordinating producer, Drew Esocoff is the director and Sam Flood is the exe producer overseeing everything.
NBC will, of course, do the May 21 Preakness and June 10 Belmont.