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Published March 20, 1998
PERSONALITIES: NBC has extended the contracts of lead golf analyst Johnny Miller and NBA analyst Bill Walton for four more years (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 3/20)....In SI, John Walters reviews Isiah Thomas' performance as an analyst on the "NBA on NBC," under the sub-head "Isiah Thomas Not An NBA All-Star Analyst -- Yet." Walters: "Despite his charismatic presence, Thomas has a soft voice that doesn't engage viewers ... [h]is energy level wavers during a telecast, and he says 'You know' too much." But Walters adds that Bob Costas once uttered an on-air expletive early in his career and adds, "He got better. So can Thomas" (SI, 3/23 issue)....Fox Sports President David Hill, on the net's decision to air a boxing match against Monday night's Academy Awards telecast: "We wanted a viable alternative for guys who don't want to see how many sequins are on the winning gown. What I hope happens is James Cameron scores a convincing win and we do well" (Baltimore SUN, 3/20). OTHER NOTES: At Wednesday's Penguins home game, "several" of the Civic Arena's message boards "touted" Marino Sports TV, the new cable network Pens co-Owners Roger Marino and Howard Baldwin plan to launch (PITTSBURGH POST- GAZETTE, 3/19)....The Tribune Co. "exercised its final option to boost its equity stake" in the WB Network, upping its share from 21.9% to 25% for $8M (DAILY VARIETY, 3/20). ...Fox Sports Net's "Baseball Thursday" returns on April 2. FSN will offer each of its RSNs one of two Thursday telecasts every week throughout the season (FSN)....WCVB-TV has renewed its three-year deal with the Patriots to air three preseason games, and will host an expanded, hour-long "Patriots Preview" show on Saturday mornings throughout next season (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/20)....In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes one of FSN's new Spike Lee-produced NHL promos "delights" in showing "footage of players having their heads smashed against the glass and sideboards," despite the fact that many of the league's players have suffered from concussions. Mushnick: "A Fox source said Wednesday that a top network sports executive was 'not pleased with Lee's seeing stars' spot -- nor that [FSN] chose to air it -- and that it would likely be pulled before the weekend" (N.Y. POST, 3/20).