The NFL has quietly passed a rule during its fall meeting that will force one franchise per year to be filmed for HBO’s Hard Knocks. The news came the same day that the league was fending off some negative PR over PBS’ premiere of the football concussion docu League Of Denial and President Obama weighing in on the Washington Redskins nickname flap. The popular series, which follows a team through preseason, had a tough time finding a subject this year. Five teams declined to participate before the Cincinnati Bengals — a good-not-great small-market franchise with a negligible national following — agreed to do it for a second time. The NFL and HBO signed a multiyear extension for the program in July, so something had to be done. Under the new rules, teams can volunteer to be on the program, but now the league will select one if there are no takers. Teams that have a new head coach, have been in the playoffs at least once in the past two seasons, or have done one Hard Knocks in the past 10 years are exempt from appearing on the show.
HBO will return for a seventh season of its NFL training camp series Hard Knocks on August 7 featuring the Miami Dolphins, a year after the network scrapped the Emmy-winning documentary series because …
UPDATE, MONDAY AM: A lot of great news for Liev Schreiber this morning. His deal with Showtime to star in the drama pilot Ray Donovan formally closed, and the network just made the official announcement. And, in what appears to be a change of heart, HBO Sports has renewed its overall deal with the actor to continue to be the voice of virtually all HBO documentaries as well as the 24/7 reality series, and the NFL reality series Hard Knocks. During the lengthy negotiations, HBO had considered not to re-up the overall with Schreiber and open up the field to other narrators, but in the end it extended Schreiber. I hear that the actor’s Showtime series contract allows for that.
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY PM: With a deal to star in Showtime’s pilot Ray Donovan, Liev Schreiber may one day become the face of the pay cable network. But at the same time, it looks like he will no longer be the exclusive voice of the sports division of rival HBO. I’ve learned that HBO is planning not to renew its overall deal with the actor to be the the voice of HBO Sports, which has included narrating virtually all HBO sports documentaries, the 24/7 reality series, and the NFL reality series Hard Knocks. HBO is not severing ties with Schreiber, who has been voicing HBO Sports’ programs for the past 16 years. “Liev is set to start work next week on his next HBO Sports project, 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic, HBO Sports said in a statement, declining further comment. I hear that Schreiber also is scheduled to do another HBO Sports project in January.