Stephen Espinoza, most recently a partner at entertainment law firm Ziffren Brittenham, has been tapped as EVP and General Manager of Showtime Sports and Event Programming, the network announced today. He will be responsible for the day-to-day activities of the group and its pay-per-view unit; managing relationships with distributors, talent and suppliers; and the acquisition and licensing of programming. The move is the final one in a game of musical chairs that began when longtime HBO Sports chief Ross Greenburg left after 33 years at the premium channel. He was replaced last month by Showtime’s sports head, Ken Hershman, leaving the vacancy at Showtime that Espinoza has now filled. (Greenburg landed last week at a producer at NBC Sports Group.) While at Ziffren Brittenham, Espinoza repped numerous A-list film and TV clients, He also handled boxers Mike Tyson and Oscar De La Hoya and was lead counsel for De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, which makes him a perfect fit for Showtime’s boxing-heavy sports programming that also includes Strikeforce mixed martial arts and Inside The NFL. He also repped Gina Carano, the MMA standout that is now starring in Steven Soderbergh’s fight drama Haywire.
Ross Greenburg, who in July departed as president of HBO Sports, has been tapped to produce documentaries for the newly formed NBC Sports Group, which includes the NBC Sports Network, Golf Channel and NBC. He also will produce Costas Tonight, the new monthly interview show that will debut in spring 2012 on the NBC Sports Network — the new name of Comcast’s rebranded Versus channel that launches January 2. That’s also the airdate of Greenburg’s first documentary, Cold War On Ice: Summit Series ’72, which looks at a hockey series between Canadian All-Stars and the Soviet Union during the Cold War in 1972. Greenburg founded Ross Greenburg Productions after ending his 33-year career at HBO, the last of 11 of which were spent as president of the sports division. He previously worked with Costas on the premium network on the sports broadcaster’s On the Record and CostasNOW. “Ross is a master storyteller and a perfect fit to produce high-quality, relevant programming for all of our platforms, particularly NBC Sports Network and Golf Channel,” said NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus. “His award-winning collaborative relationship with Bob made the decision to retain Ross to oversee production of Costas Tonight a natural.”
HBO has reached out to rival Showtime for a replacement to Ross Greenburg, who recently left the network after 33 years at the pay cable network — the last 11 as president of HBO Sports. Showtime’s EVP and General Manager Sports Ken Hershman has been tapped as Greenburg’s successor. UPDATE: Here’s HBO’s official release:
NEW YORK, Oct. 13, 2011 – Veteran sports television executive Ken Hershman will join HBO in January 2012 as President, HBO Sports, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, President, HBO Programming, to whom he will report. Hershman will be responsible for the strategic direction and overseeing the HBO Sports division, including the boxing franchise and HBO Pay-Per-View. The HBO Sports portfolio includes the Emmy-winning journalism program “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”; the Peabody Award-winning Legends & Legacies documentary unit; and the groundbreaking reality series “Hard Knocks” and the “24/7” franchise.
“Richard [Plepler, HBO co-president] and I believe that Ken is a perfect fit for HBO Sports,” said Lombardo. “He has a deep and thorough understanding of the sport of boxing and that background will be invaluable as he transitions to his role at HBO. Ken has demonstrated a capacity to think outside the box, and the combination of his experience and reputation make him the ideal executive addition to HBO’s already stellar sports department.”
Hershman joins HBO from Showtime, where he had been the