SBD/23/Law Politics

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              Marv Albert pleaded not guilty yesterday to forcible
         sodomy and assault charges as a jury of seven women and five
         men were selected to hear the case, according to Steve Zipay
         of NEWSDAY.  Zipay: "In explicit opening statements, a
         Virginia prosector and a high-profile defense attorney
         yesterday offered starkly different characterizations of the
         relationship between [Albert] and his long-time mistress
         that she says culminated in a violent incident in his hotel
         room here last February."  Testimony begins today at 10:00am
         ET (NEWSDAY, 9/23).  In DC, Brooke Masters reports the trial
         opened "with painfully graphic sexual detail, celebrity
         name-dropping and diametrically opposed views of the
         character of the NBC sportscaster" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/23).
              FUTURE IN SPORTS: MSG President Dave Checketts said
         that there are "contingency plans" for MSG Network pending
         the outcome of the trial.  Checketts: "Marv knows we're
         squarely behind him.  Yes, there are [contingency plans],
         but it's not a relevant issue right now" (Fred Kerber, N.Y.
         POST, 9/23).  In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes that while
         Albert's future in sports "rests in the hands of a few
         people" -- Checketts and NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol 
         -- "others in the industry" are watching the case closely. 
         ISI Exec VP Steve Rosner: "[N]o matter what the outcome of
         the trial, he's going to be tainted in the industry." 
         Rosner added that networks may be "pressured" to drop
         Albert: "I would be concerned with advertisers and their
         reaction to these allegations. (They) can be very aggressive
         when they don't think a personality is living up to their
         standards."  IF Enterprises President Steve Herz: "If [NBA
         Commissioner] David Stern says he doesn't want the league's
         games covered by (Albert), that could cause serious problems
         for Marv.  In the relationship between them, the NBA the
         tail wags the dog.  NBC is the dog covering the event, but
         the tail is the NBA and it is telling NBC what to do" (N.Y.
         DAILY NEWS, 9/23).  Also in N.Y., Wallace Matthews writes
         that "unless the NBC peacock grows some integrity overnight,
         you will never see Marv Albert work at 30 Rock again."  But,
         Matthews adds, on NBC Sports "sexual abusers, cross-dressers
         and violent knuckleheads are regularly presented as heroes." 
         Matthews: "And yet, I have a feeling that no matter how the
         trial ends, Marv Albert's contract will end with it" (N.Y.
         POST, 9/23).  Burns Sports President Bob Williams: "He's in
         serious jeopardy of losing his total income in sports."  
         Sports Marketing Letter Publisher Brian Murphy: "It's always
         unwise to say that someone has fatally injured his career." 
         Marty Blackman, of Blackman & Rayber: "It's one fortunate
         thing for him that we're talking about someone who is in
         sports.  All these juicy things come out, and one of the
         things that kind of benefits him is the demographic" (Knipe
         Brown & Chapman, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 9/23).
              TV COVERAGE: "NBC Nightly News" reported on the Albert
         trial seven minutes into its news broadcast as Tom Brokaw
         identified Albert as an "NBC sportscaster."   The report
         lasted two minutes, and NBC's Pete Williams is on the scene
         in VA ("NBC Nightly News," NBC, 9/22).  ABC's "World News
         Tonight" reported that the trial had started, as Peter
         Jennings referred to Albert as a "sportscaster."  The voice-
         over report lasted twenty seconds ("World News Tonight,"
         ABC, 9/22).  "CBS Evening News" made no mention of the trial
         ("CBS Evening News," CBS, 9/22).  ESPN's 6:30pm ET
         "SportsCenter" featured the trial ten minutes into the
         broadcast.  Sal Paolantonio is in VA; Bob Ley reported on
         the day's events and then had a Q&A with Paolantonio.  The
         report lasted two minutes ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/22).

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