Sunday media: Kareem’s vulnerability on display in HBO documentary

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar cried.

Not at any point during the 90 minutes we see him and many others detail his life story in the new HBO documentary, “Kareem: Minority of One,” which the network debuts on Tuesday night at 10 p.m.

This moment of unanticipated emotion occurred after the piece premiered in New York last week. The former UCLA icon, Lakers Hall of Famer and current author/social commentator viewed it for the first time in a private theatre on the 10th floor of the Time Warner Building filled with invited guests and friends. Present were NBA commissioner Adam Silver, former commissioner David Stern and former New York Knicks great Walt Frazier.

kareemintro“It was very heartening to see,” executive producer Mike Tollin said of Abdul-Jabbar’s reaction. “He called it ‘extraordinary.’ He got choked up and shed tears toward the end of it. He acknowledged that this was his story; it represents who he is and what his life has been all about.”

That’s all Tollin, HBO and Abdul-Jabbar himself could have hoped for when this project began two years ago.

More at this link …

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It’s Out of the Question: Why all the noise about the lack of loudness at the Coliseum?

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

After all the things that went bump in the week, we wonder how frightening shallow one can be on All Hallow’s Eve:

== By the sound of things, one of the most pressing items on USC’s Home Depot fix-it list for the crumbling, crotchety Coliseum had more to do with new seats, wider aisles and more luxurious luxury suites.
Does anyone know a way to make the place louder?
Someone is apparently beating the drum, claiming the atmospheric decibel levels don’t give USC’s football team enough of a home-field advantage.
Say again?
coliseumusceThe school just submitted a proposal to do about $270 million worth of major nips and substantial tucks to this old gray lady over the next few years. There are enough questions arising just from that mock-up.
But to fix some acoustic deficiencies, it was suggested more canopies be put on the stadium’s upper rims, more glass windows be added to VIP boxes and more speakers get amped up everywhere else.
Are they trying to drown out the Harbor Freeway traffic or cultivate more patients for the USC’s Keck emergency room? Continue reading

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ESPN suspends operation of post-Simmons

grandlandcoverA week after cutting some 300 staffers from the company in order to reorganize, ESPN announced today it would suspend the Bill Simmons-created website “effectively immediately.”
Simmons left the company last May, joining HBO. Several key editors of the site have also left the company, hired by Simmons.
Grantland launched in 2011 as a mixture of sports, pop culture and movie reviews.
“After careful consideration, we have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise,” the company said in a statement.
“Grantland distinguished itself with quality writing, smart ideas, original thinking and fun.  We are grateful to those who made it so. Bill Simmons was passionately committed to the site and proved to be an outstanding editor with a real eye for talent. Thanks to all the other writers, editors and staff who worked very hard to create content with an identifiable sensibility and consistent intelligence and quality.
“We also extend our thanks to Chris Connelly who stepped in to help us maintain the site these past five months as he returns to his prior role.
“Despite this change, the legacy of smart long-form sports story-telling and innovative short form video content will continue, finding a home on many of our other ESPN platforms.”
ESPN recently reported that Grantland had continued readership growth. It also posted a story about the Grantland decision on its website.
An ESPN spokesperson said all Grantland writers — about 40 of them —  will have their contracts honored with the intent to use them on other ESPN platforms.
After the announcement, Simmons tweeted out:

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Weekly media notes version 10.29.15 — Kareem hooks us up with his life story, HBO style

What’s on target for Sunday:

Last summer, when word got out that a documentary was launched on the life and times of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, we had some skepticism that the former UCLA and Lakers star — perhaps the greatest to ever play basketball — to be toying with us again.
We had our own personal confrontations with him, as a media member. We respect his intelligence, but didn’t really understand why he always acted like “Mr. Grump.”
Those, actually, are the words he uses to describe himself in the new 90-minute documentary, “Kareem: Minority Of One,” which HBO debuts on Tuesday at 10 p.m.
kareemtalk1Steve Springer, the former L.A. Times’ Lakers beat writer, explains in the piece that to most, Abdul-Jabbar was “aloof, shy, he didn’t feel comfortable in the environment other players did.”
Abdul-Jabbar himself says: “I was typecast as the brooding black guy. I think it had a lot to do in the era we were raised in. I had to tow a certain line and not be too controversial or too much my own man.”
Those kind of revelations, such as they are, make up most of the documentary’s framework. Or, as Abdul-Jabbar says in a story this week with Newsday:  “I figured that there are a whole lot of questions about my life that really everybody is still in the dark about. I didn’t want to go to my grave as a mystery man. …
“Sometimes people would question me as to my motives, and not speaking about it publicly really just maintained the mystery. So I wanted to clear the air on so many of the instances that people bring up when they talk about my life.”
So there we are. We’ll give more of our take on the whole thing.

What’s worth putting out at this point of the week: Continue reading

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TWC Sports chief David Rone leaving the company, won’t be replaced

David Rone, right, exchanges a fist-bump with Dodgers minority owner Magic Johnson during the launch of SportsNet LA in El Segundo in 2011. (Jerod Harris / Getty Images for SportsNet LA)

David Rone, right, exchanges a fist-bump with Dodgers minority owner Magic Johnson during the launch of SportsNet LA in El Segundo in 2011. (Jerod Harris / Getty Images for SportsNet LA)

David Rone, the point person as president of El Segundo-based Time Warner Cable Sports in the launching and distribution of the Lakers-dominant TWC SportsNet, the Dodgers’ SportsNet LA and TWC SportsNet Deportes, is leaving the company at the end of this week.

The news, first reported by Sports Business Daily, comes as SportsNet LA finished its second full season stalled without full distribution since Rone helped get the Dodgers-owned channel up and running prior to the 2013 season. It also comes as the company recently began layoffs and cutbacks in its programming.

Rone’s job will not be filled, according to SBD. Those who work under him, including general manager Mark Shuken, will report to TWC executive vice president and COO Melinda Witmer, based in New York.

Rone arrived at TWC Sports in the summer of 2011. His background included co-leadership of the Creative Artists Agency sports division, executive VP of Fox Sports networks, general manager of Fox College Sports and working in corporate business development at Walt Disney Company.

As president of Time Warner Cable Networks, Rone oversaw all content creation and programming for the company as well as the company’s overall sports strategy. TWC’s interests also include SportsNet New York, the home of the New York Mets.

twc-dodgers3He immediately faced resistance from cable and dish companies about the launch of TWC SportsNet in Oct., 2012, as the Lakers season began. That channel also had exclusive rights to the MLS Galaxy and WNBA Sparks as well as the state high school championships, taking them from rival Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket.

“If there is subscriber angst, then it will be communicated to those who don’t have a relationship and it drives the dynamic in getting it done,” he said at the time.

The SportsNet LA launch was notably more difficult. Only because of the pending merger of TWC with Charter was SportsNet LA. able to expand its Southern California presence beyond TWC subscribers last June. DirecTV, which recently was bought out by AT&T, remains the largest holdout for the channel, citing high subscriber fees.

Rone explained back in the summer of 2014 why he had “dual emotions” about whether he thought a deal could be consummated with DirecTV and TWC for SportsNet LA distribution as TWC tried to put out more information to correct what it felt was too much misinformation floated around about negotiations.

25957838“I am and have to remain incredibly optimistic for those fans who deserve this content, and be optimistic for them that this situation gets solved,” he said then. “But at the same time, from my business experience, and from colleagues who say to us when a distributor behaves in the manner that DirecTV is behaving, that’s an indicator that we have to be pessimistic about whether they change their tune and engage with us.”

A TWC Sports spokesman said Rone has “accomplished what he set out to do here, including successfully launching three RSNs. He feels that with this success, the pending acquisition and a strong bench of talented employees who have worked for him, it would be a good time to start exploring other opportunities. He has agreed to consult with us until at least the end of the year.”

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