LeBron James’ decision about where he will play next season is certainly newsworthy but to devote a one-hour prime-time special on it?! That’s what ESPN is doing with the dramatically-titled The Decision tomorrow night at 9PM. (That name is usually used by news networks for their coverage of other important events, like presidential elections.) Given that the announcement of James’ choice will take a few minutes at best, expect an hour of fillers leading to it, kinda like an American Idol results episode. (UPDATE: ESPN says James will announce his team pick in the first 15 minutes, which brings up the question: Why not do it as a 15-minute special?) And if you thought that was an overkill, ESPN also plans a three-hour SportsCenter leading into The Decision that will be devoted to James’ decision as well as an expanded two-hour SportsCenter immediately following the special, which will dissect that decision. At least James is doing it for a good cause: proceeds from The Decision will be donated to Boys & Girls Club of America.
UPDATE: In a conference call with reporters, ESPN defended the editorial integrity of its decision to let James’ company LRMR Marketing sell the ad spots for The Decision, noting that the money goes to charity. ”There was no rights fee, no payment, and we will have complete editorial control over the hour,” ESPN executive VP of production Norby Williamson said.
Phil Keoghan, host and producer of CBS’ realty series The Amazing Race is taking on hosting and producing duties for another unscripted series about a race. Keoghan has teamed with Exodus Film Group, which has secured North American rights to the project. It will chronicle the Velux 5 Oceans 2010-11 race, which features skippers from all over the world sailing alone for 30,000 miles around the globe on high powered racing yachts and video recording their journeys. Search is under way for an U.S. network to carry the series.
The Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle, and Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry, have been tapped as creative bosses of the London 2012 Olympics. Stephen Daldry will be in overall creative charge of the Olympics and Paralympics, while Danny Boyle will be artistic director of the main opening ceremony. Boyle, whose new version of Frankenstein opens at the National Theatre later this year, said that he wanted to create a “thrilling, enthralling and captivating evening”. Orson Welles once described moviemaking as the greatest train set a boy ever had. The Olympics seem even more so. The opening Olympic Games ceremony has long fascinated film directors. Chinese director Zhang Yimou spent £70 million ($105 million) designing the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing event. And then of course there was Leni Riefenstahl at the 1936 Berlin games.
Multiplex chains are resigned to admissions dropping by anything between 10% and 20% during this month’s soccer tournament. Numbers of tickets sold could fall to under 10 million compared with 12.5 million this time last year, according to Cinema Exhibitors’ Association figures. Scanning the release schedule, you suspect some titles are just being dumped in the popcorn penitentiaries to trigger that all-important pay-TV deal. This month’s Hollywood releases include Killers, MacGruber and When In Rome. Still, if Eng-er-land carry on playing the way they did against the USA on Sunday, it could all be over by next week. Cinema managers will be waving their rattles.
He died at his home in Westport, Connecticut, on Saturday, June 5th, after a long illness. He was 73. Robert J. Wussler was internationally recognized as a leader in the television and sports industries, and held senior executive positions at CBS and Turner Broadcasting System where he co-founded CNN. Wussler began his CBS career as a mailroom clerk in 1957, and rose to become President of the CBS Television Network and President of CBS Sports. In 1980, Ted Turner recruited Wussler to join Turner Broadcasting System in its Atlanta headquarters and became Senior EVP.
From 1989-1992, Wussler served as President and CEO of Comsat Video Enterprises. In 1992, he formed The Wussler Group, where he spent the past two decades consulting and creating programming for syndication, network, cable and internet platforms. Over his career, Wussler won seven national Emmy Awards, including the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Trustees (NATAS) Award, four Awards for Cable Excellence (ACE) and the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) President’s Award.
Kwame Kwei-Armah, the BAFTA-nominated TV scriptwriter, has turned to the big screen. Kwei-Armah is writing Black Flash, a biopic of 70s soccer star Laurie Cunningham for production company Fulwell 73. Cunningham was the first black player to represent England at any level. He also dated a white girl, very publicly, much to the disgust of the average 70s football hooligan. Cunningham was the first English player to sign for Spanish soccer superstars Real Madrid, let alone the first black player. He died in a suspect car accident, aged 33, after getting involved with the seamy side of the Costa Del Sol.
This is not the first time Kwei-Armah has written a biopic of a black soccer player. He has already written one BBC TV drama about black footballer Walter Tull, who played for Tottenham Hotspur before the First World War. Kwei-Armah was the first black Briton to have a play stated in the West End, when his award-winning Elmina’s Kitchen transferred to the Garrick Theatre in 2005. Sean Gascoigne represents him at United Agents.
Fulwell 73, meanwhile, is in post on its feature documentary The Ballad of a Green Beret. The docu follows Lt Col Bo Gritz, the most highly-decorated Green Beret during the Vietnam War, who later organised rescue raids on kidnapped American POWs, before becoming a controversial conspiracy theorist. Producer Leo Pearlman tells me that Gritz served as the model for both Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo and Marlon Brando’s paranoid … Read More »
A little background: At the beginning of the year, ESPN and Discovery Communications announced plans to launch the first 3D television networks. ESPN’s net, ESPN 3D, will be introduced this week with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match South Africa vs. Mexico on Friday, while Discovery’s joint venture with Sony and Imax is being prepped for a 2011 launch. Both companies have claimed to have the first 3D network. ESPN has an earlier launch date, but the network will go dark when not airing 3D programming, while Discovery’s channel will be on the air 24/7. Here is Sony/Discovery/IMAX’s release announcing Tom Gosgrove’s appointment as president and GM.
LOS ANGELES – Sony Corporation, Discovery Communications and IMAX Corporation today announced that Discovery Channel executive Tom Cosgrove has been named President and General Manager of the joint venture they have established to develop the first 24/7 dedicated 3D television network. The network will feature content from genres that are most appealing in 3D, including natural history, space, exploration, adventure, engineering, science and technology and motion pictures from Discovery, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., IMAX and other third-party providers. In his new position, Cosgrove will oversee all business and creative areas of the joint venture, with a goal of driving consumer adoption of 3D televisions and giving the network long-term leadership in the 3D home marketplace. He
… Read More »