SBD/23/Law Politics

ALBERT TRIAL BEGINS WITH OBSERVERS SPECULATING ON HIS FUTURE

          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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