SBD/January 18, 2011/Media

ESPN Begins Australian Open Coverage Without Analyst Mary Carillo

Carillo reportedly was distressed by ESPN's approach to covering top players
Mary Carillo is not part of ESPN's broadcast team at the Australian Open as the tournament begins this week, and it "doesn't take a leap to surmise that the philosophical difference" between Carillo and ESPN was in Carillo "believing the tone and tenor of ESPN's coverage was closer to cheerleading than reporting," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Carillo "quietly left ESPN last year during the middle of the U.S. Open," and sources said that she was "distressed by a culture that frowned on critical analysis of the top players on tour, particularly American stars." ESPN Exec VP/Production Norby Williamson said, "Mary, for years, helped build ESPN's tennis coverage and she was a valuable asset which made us very strong. ... She wanted to experiment and do some different things beyond just tennis. The load of the ESPN tennis was not allowing her to do that." Williamson added, "Given everything she had done for ESPN and the high level she had given us, if that was what she wanted to do, of course we would accommodate her. But it's very hard to replace a Mary Carillo." Williamson said that he "did not have direct conversations with Carillo on tennis philosophy." She will continue to call tennis on CBS and NBC, as well as contribute to HBO's "Real Sports." Deitsch wrote no sport "does conflicts quite like tennis," and that has "morphed today into ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez interviewing a player (Roger Federer) represented by her IMG agent husband." ESPN analyst Patrick McEnroe "makes a six-figure salary from the USTA, which puts him in a tricky situation when questions come up yearly about the U.S. Open scheduling and the stadium's need for a roof." It is "hard to believe such flagrant conflicts would be permitted in other sports" (SI.com, 1/17).

COVERING THE RAFA SLAM
: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted Rafael Nadal is attempting to "win the Australian Open and thus hold all four of tennis' major titles at once," and such a run "figures to boost ESPN2's Nielsens, despite the 16-hour difference between Australia and the East Coast in the U.S. and 19 hours to the Pacific time zone." ESPN2 "plans a record 124 live hours, plus nearly 50 additional afternoon encores, the most in its 27-year history with the Australian." Coverage "will be enhanced by ESPN2's use of the 'spider cam' it unveiled at Ashe Stadium at the 2010 U.S. Open." ESPN3.com "will offer 600 live hours, with users choosing between matches on seven courts," and "all of that action is available on-demand after their completion." Meanwhile, Tennis Channel is "scheduled to present close to 30 hours of live match play over the fortnight, beginning with the initial day of play through the singles quarterfinals, doubles championships and mixed-doubles final." The network will offer 70 total hours of live and encore coverage (MULTICHANNEL.com, 1/16).

OUT OF LINE: The AAP's Robert Grant reported a New Zealand TV journalist yesterday "again disrupted" Maria Sharapova's post-match media conference, marking the "third time the man has appeared when she has been scheduled to speak during the past two weeks." Last weekend, the man "asked her if she spent time with compatriot Anna Kournikova and frequented a club for 'hot Russians.'" Sharapova: "You're the guy from New Zealand, huh? Oh God, you're stalking me!" The journalist jokingly replied, "It's not stalking if you love someone." Australian Open officials "were yet to decide on whether to caution the man" (AAP, 1/17).
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