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ALBERT TRIAL BEGINS WITH OBSERVERS SPECULATING ON HIS FUTURE
Published September 23, 1997
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).