CBS may not be interested in having its former correspondent Dan Rather participate in its JFK assassination 50th anniversary plans, but ESPN is delighted to have him. The network said today that Rather will narrate Rozelle’s Decision-to-Play, one of its pieces planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, set to air this Sunday at 8 AM on ESPN2 and 9 AM on ESPNEWS. The special will be re-aired throughout the week on SportsCenter and the network’s various NFL programming leading up to November 22nd.
Related: Dan Rather Hoped CBS News Would Include Him In Coverage Plans
President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed 50 years ago next Friday just a few miles from where the Dallas Cowboys were practicing. The decision to play games just two days after the assassination was left to 37-year-old Pete Rozelle, in just his fourth season as NFL Commissioner. Rather, who helped coordinate CBS’ coverage of Kennedy’s trip to Dallas and was the first reporter to confirm Kennedy’s death, narrates the story of Rozelle’s decision — one the late commissioner called the biggest regret of his career, ESPN says.
Among the recollections: READ MORE »
Veteran motorsports announcer Marty Reid has been axed from his post at ESPN, the network told the AP. Reid’s departure follows an on-air gaffe during the September 21 Nationwide Series Kentucky 300 race when he mistakenly … Read More »
2ND UPDATE, 10:46 AM: Looks like there will be some last-minute editing to PBS‘ two-hour Frontline special League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis. This morning the league announced a settlement worth $765M has been reached in Philadelphia federal court between the NFL and more than 4,500 former players. If approved by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody, the deal would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research. The proposed settlement comes after months of mediation between the sides and probably guarantees that the NFL wouldn’t be required to disclose internal files about what it knew about concussion issues and whether it hid findings of internal committees to protect the the league. The timing is right for an agreement: The NFL’s regular season starts in a week, and the Frontline special airs on PBS stations October 8. It previously had been scheduled to air in two parts over two weeks.
UPDATE, AUGUST 23 AM: PBS’ upcoming Frontline two-parter about head injuries sustained by NFL players appears to have hit the motherlode with the pullout of ESPN from the joint project. League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis exec producers announced last night on the program’s website that ESPN had withdrawn as a partner with Frontline on the docu. ESPN says it’s a “branding” issue. Anonymous sources tell The New York Times — you know it’s coming — that ESPN, which reportedly pays the NFL upwards of $1 billion a year for Monday Night Football rights, succumbed to pressure from the NFL. Not so, says the NFL. Viewer awareness of the upcoming docu, which debuts on PBS stations on October 8 and October 15, just went up 1,000%.
PREVIOUS, AUGUST 22 PM:ESPN has pulled out of its joint investigation with PBS’ Frontline into the NFL’s response to head injuries among players. “You may notice some changes to our League Of Denial and Concussion Watch websites,” the documentary producers said this evening in a statement on the Frontline website. From now on, at ESPN’s request, we will no longer use their logos and collaboration credit on these sites and on our upcoming film League Of Denial,” Frontline exec producer David Fanning and deputy exec producer Raney Aronson said in the statement.
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Last month, Keith Olbermann‘s bosses at ESPN and Disney said they were “blessed” to have him back — after very public stints at and exits from MSNBC and Current TV. Not to mention his nasty retreat from ESPN in 1997. (The network expunged any trace of Olbermann from its 25th anniversary SportsCenter “Reunion Week.”) So there was plenty of anticipation about how his new weeknightly ESPN2 show Olbermann would play. As it turned out, there was snark but no fury. The issues he touched on mostly were East Coast-specific and not really controversial. He didn’t get into any of the recent headline-making stories involving his new network (the NFL concussions documentary, a new rival in Fox Sports 1, Nate Silver’s hiring). There was a bare-bones set and no splashy graphics, hinting that the Worldwide Leader is content to put the focus solely on Olbermann. The results were, of all things, pretty dull. Read More »
ESPN President John Skipper told a report posted today that a promotional trailer for PBS‘ Frontline documentary investigating NFL concussions was the “catalyst” for ESPN‘s pulling out of its partnership with the project. The … Read More »
Hugh Douglas excelled on the defensive side of the ball during his NFL playing career, but an offensive he launched against an ESPN colleague has cost him his TV gig. The … Read More »
One week after ESPN announced it had signed Keith Olbermann to host a weekday late-night show on ESPN2, the guy who’d been savaging the place since it showed him the door nearly two decades back came to the Summer TCA Press Tour and said the reunion was practically inevitable and it had been a great place to work. “The reality is that whatever I have thought of ESPN when I worked there — and I thought I had a pretty good perspective about the place — I didn’t know what I was talking about,” he told TV critics and reporters in the room. “The places I went afterwards made ESPN look like a Let’s Applaud Keith session for five years.” Back in 2007 — a decade after he left ESPN — he told Dave Letterman, “ I don’t burn bridges, I burn rivers. You burn a bridge, you can possibly build a new bridge. When there’s no river anymore, that’s a lot of trouble.” On Wednesday, however, he said if you burn a bridge, “take the tunnel.”
One of those Worse Than ESPN places at which he labored — Current TV — was so bad, comparing ESPN to it was like comparing “color TV to radio.”
He had a million of ‘em. The critics lapped it up.
Related: Olbermann Vows No Politics When ESPN2 Show Debuts in August
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ESPN has made its second high-profile signing in a week, and it’s someone well known to Hollywood political circles. The New York Times announced online tonight that its political number cruncher Nate Silver is … Read More »
Is Keith Olbermann’s latest TV renaissance about to take him back to Bristol? The lightning-rod veteran of sports and political shows is in “serious discussions” with Disney-owned ESPN for a late-night talker on sister outlet … Read More »
Is the Worldwide Leader looking over its shoulder? Two months after laying off hundreds of staffers and five weeks before the launch of Fox’s rival sports network, ESPN saw its second-quarter ratings plunge compared with … Read More »
The sports network had been at the forefront of the TV technology, which might be part of the problem. ESPN 3D was one of the first such channels launched, offering extra-dimensional versions of high-profile games. But nobody was watching, … Read More »
The cable initiative to stream any TV show, anytime, and anywhere remains spotty and confusing — and is progressing slowly — execs acknowledged in a panel on the subject today at the Cable Show in D.C. Thus far “it’s not a success,” says Fox Networks’ Mike Biard. NBCUniversal’s Ron Lamprecht rated the progress at no more than a 5 out of 10. There’s no turning back, though. “We see our consumers expecting that our content be everywhere,” he says. “There really isn’t any other choice. We have to be there.” But the industry faces a gauntlet of negotiations before it can hope to provide a service that will look the same across all TV networks, cable providers, and technology platforms. For example, Watch ESPN — the sports channel’s TV Everywhere service — “is almost exactly like what you see on ESPN, but there are blackouts because they don’t have the underlying rights” to all the games, Comcast Cable’s Marcien Jenckes says. Consumers also will find different shows when they use a network’s app compared with a cable company’s, and whether they’re used in or outside the home. “In a TNT application within the home you’re accessing TV Everywhere, but in an Xfinity application it could be [just the cable company's] VOD” programming, says Turner Broadcasting’s Jeremy Legg. “Explain to a consumer why they can get TNT in the home but not out of the home.” Read More »
Most execs like to raise expectations when they address investors. But Disney CFO Jay Rasulo did just the opposite when he opened his appearance today at the … Read More »
ESPN just released a statement confirming the cuts, which were first reported by Deadspin. Said the company: “We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs. While difficult, we are confident … Read More »
After 45 years, the U.S. Open tennis tournament is leaving CBS and moving to cable. Beginning with the 2015 tournament, ESPN networks will air the sporting event exclusively. The U.S. Tennis Association and ESPN announced an 11-year … Read More »
Twitter users soon will be able to see — rather than just read about — more hail Marys, big air, and golden goals. ESPN said today it is broadening its ties to the 140-character world, making ad-embedded clips of several major events available on Twitter and mobile devices, creating yet another potential revenue stream. The sports behemoth becomes the latest TV entity to get cozier with the site as video becomes a bigger part of the twitterverse. Last month, Twitter was said to be holding talks with Viacom and NBCUniversal about hosting clips from those companies’ shows, and BBC America tweeted a few weeks back that it had signed up for the first “in-Tweet branded video synced to entertainment TV series.” The Disney-run “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” as it brands itself, soon will make the clips available on Twitter and mobile devices shortly after they happen live on-air. Expect video from NCAA football, the X Games and action from the pitch during the run-up to next year’s soccer World Cup. The net will detail its plans during its upfront Tuesday in New York. Read More »
Chris Broussard became part of the story yesterday with his outspoken comments about NBA player Jason Collins‘ coming-out in a Sports Illustrated column, making the journeyman center America’s first openly gay major sports figure. Broussard, a Christian and a longtime respected NBA beat writer who now works for ESPN The Magazine, called homosexuality a sin during a segment on the network’s newsmagazine OTL discussing Collins’ revelation. Not sure why anyone is surprised that a TV commentator provided commentary — agree or disagree with his take that’s what they pay the guy for, and he won’t be the last to offer an opposing view in this debate — but it prompted an apology from ESPN last night and a clarification by Broussard via Twitter:
Today on OTL, as part of a larger, wide-ranging discussion on today’s news, I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before. I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that. As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA.
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