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Through eight games on Fox Sports Arizona, the Coyotes have averaged a 2.0 cable rating in the Phoenix area, an increase of 220% from last season's 0.9 rating during the same period (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/9)....MSNBC's Keith Olbermann will host "SI's Year in Sports '97," a one-hour special produced by SITV and scheduled to air December 27 on NBC. Toyota is the program's presenting sponsor (SI)....In N.Y., Michael Shain wrote that a book by Martina Hingis, co- written by Swiss sports editor Mario Vidmer, will be "submitted to publishers soon" (N.Y. POST, 11/9).
ABC's Barbara Walters interviewed Marv Albert Friday on "20/20," marking the former sportscaster's first interview since pleading guilty to assault charges in Virginia. Albert, when asked if he has any "assurances" from either NBC or MSG that he can resume his broadcasting career: "No. I received a number of offers, actually, hundreds of offers. ... But I think it's going to be a while. I feel I have to go through the counseling that I have begun. I would like to sit it out for a little while." Albert, on public perception of him: "No matter what I say here or elsewhere, I know that this is a stigma that will be out there. I have to be able to deal with that. And I'm a big boy. And I have to deal with it" ("20/20," ABC, 11/7). Albert also spoke to New York TV columnists over the weekend. Asked by Phil Mushnick about his relationship with NBC and MSG after "lying, for telling your bosses you were totally innocent," Albert said, "They felt betrayed, and I understand that. I hope to be able to explain it all to them" (N.Y. POST, 11/9). Albert told NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay he hopes to return to sportscasting by next fall. He also defended the timing of his appearances: "Should I just sit back and accept what have been lies?" (Steve Zipay, NEWSDAY, 11/9). REAX: On "The Sports Reporters," Mike Lupica's "Parting Shot" was on Albert: "Telling your side of things once is enough, more than enough if you watched some of Barbara Walters. But you do as many shows as Albert is doing this week, and you start to look as if you're running for something, or away from something -- maybe the truth" (ESPN, 11/9). Lupica, from his N.Y. DAILY NEWS column: "He wants to work and has a right to work. ... More than anything, Albert tells people he wants to work his way back to Madison Square Garden. This is not the way." Lupica added, "I keep hearing Marv is about to get a big offer from CBS and WFAN" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/9). In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes that Friday night "before a national ABC audience," Albert "became a cliche," and added that he spoke "arrogantly, disingenously." Jacobs: "[F]or Albert to accept a plea bargain and immediately launch a prime-time debate defense is disgusting" (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/10). MANY VIEWERS HAVE 20/20 VISION: Friday's "20/20" earned a 13.5/23 overnight rating, and "if the figures hold when national ratings are released Monday, it will be the most watched '20/20' of the season," according to Stephen Battaglio of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. But Battaglio adds that ABC News "was likely anticipating a bigger audience." On Friday, Walters anchored the show alone, as co-anchor Hugh Downs "decided to sit out the program" after stating earlier that the show would never do an Albert interview, "claiming it was too tawdry for the program." Downs issued a statement later saying, "As I had gone on the record with my reservations about covering Marv Albert's story I felt it would be hypocritical of me to co-anchor Friday's broadcast. Having watched the interview however, I thought Barbara did an outstanding job" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 11/10).