SBD/February 2, 2011/People and Pop Culture

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  • Lazarus Named NBC Sports Cable Group Head; Litner Replaces Davis As Versus Prez

    NBC Sports Group Chair DICK EBERSOL today officially announced the executive leadership team of the newly formed group. KEN SCHANZER will continue in his role as NBC Sports President, and he becomes the lead negotiator for all NBC Sports Group partnership agreements. GARY ZENKEL remains NBC Sports President & Exec VP/Strategic Partnerships. Former Turner Entertainment Group President MARK LAZARUS has been named President of NBC Sports Cable Group, reporting to Ebersol. He will oversee Golf Channel, Versus and Comcast's 11 RSNs. Comcast Sports Group President JON LITNER has been promoted to President of Versus and SportsNet, reporting to Lazarus. Litner will continue to be based at Comcast's HQs in Philadelphia. NBC Sports Senior VP/Strategic Marketing, Promotion & Communications MIKE MCCARLEY has been promoted to President of Golf Channel, reporting to Lazarus. He will relocate to Golf Channel's studios in Orlando. NBC Sports Exec VP JON MILLER has been promoted to President of Programming for NBC Sports and Versus, reporting to Lazarus. Former Versus President JAMIE DAVIS will continue to work with Lazarus on strategy and planning for the NBC Sports Group as he assesses potential roles within the Comcast family. SAM FLOOD has been promoted to Exec Producer for NBC Sports and Versus (NBC Sports Group). It is not known where Davis will land or if he will take another job within Comcast. But Davis, who joined the channel in September '08 after a stint as ESPN Star Sports Managing Dir, is well-liked by Comcast's brass. Meanwhile, McCarley, who has run communications and marketing for NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, has been with NBC since the late '90s. PAGE THOMPSON left Golf Channel in September, stepping down after a three-year run as President. Both Versus and Golf Channel posted record revenues in '10, a growth trend that was expected to continue this year. Versus posted $60M in revenue in '10; and Golf Channel brought in $100M in revenue in '10, sources said (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

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  • Catching Up With NFL Senior VP/Events Frank Supovitz

    NFL Senior VP/Events Frank Supovitz
    From the aisles of New York’s theatre district, FRANK SUPOVITZ has risen from his first job as an usher at Radio City Music Hall to hosting the event that takes center stage of the sports world. As NFL Senior VP/Events, Supovitz orchestrates all the league’s major events, including the Draft, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. With Sunday’s main event drawing near, the former NHL VP/Events & Entertainment caught up with Staff Writer Theresa Manahan to discuss Big D, a Super Bowl holiday and authoring two books.

    All-time favorite Super Bowl: Super Bowl XL because it was the first one that I got to work on in my current position, and Super Bowl XXII because it was the first one that I worked on in another capacity.
    All-time favorite Super Bowl commercial: I don’t get to see very many of them. But as a fan, I always remember the 1984 Apple commercial. It was more a piece of cinema than a commercial.
    Favorite show you ever saw at Radio City Music Hall: “Night of 100 Stars.”

    Word association:
    : Visionary
    Black Eyed Peas: Fun
    Cowboys Stadium: Magnificent

    Q: What's the biggest difference in entertainment between the NHL and NFL?
    Supovitz: The role that the NFL plays in American culture.

    Q: Biggest rookie mistake?
    Supovitz: Rushing into what I thought was a good idea. Waiting for the Stanley Cup in 1993 to come to the Montreal Forum, and getting it at the arena at the last minute after it had been outside in temperatures of -25. What that ended up causing was MAURICE RICHARD, the person who accepted the Stanley Cup and gave it out onto the ice, dropped it because it was so incredibly cold. On national television.

    Q: So how would you have done things differently?
    Supovitz: It was so tightly scheduled that it could only get to the Montreal Forum at the very last moment. I would never cut things that close again.

    Q: One element you would like to see added to the NFL schedule?
    Supovitz: Right now we are working on developing a lot of new events. ... I can’t share any of them with you right now, but we’re always innovating and always thinking about what the next great thing is.

    Q: Is there one idea that really hasn’t gained a lot of traction that you think is unique?
    Supovitz: No, all of them are in various stages of development. Fan engagement is key for us, especially during the offseason, so we are concentrating a great deal of effort on that.

    Q: Do you think Super Bowl Monday will ever become a national holiday?
    Supovitz: If we go to an 18-game regular season, it’s very likely that Super Bowl will be played on Presidents’ Weekend. It would already be a national holiday.

    Q: Hardest thing about writing your own book?
    Supovitz: The amount of time that it takes to write a book and ensure that the information that you’re presenting is not just your opinion but fact.

    Q: For fans traveling to Dallas, what makes this Super Bowl unique?
    Supovitz: North Texas has never hosted a Super Bowl before. It’s an enormous amount of real estate to explore, and the cities that are inside the North Texas region are very different culturally. So I’m hoping that people have an opportunity to not just visit Dallas or Ft. Worth, but a lot of the cities in between.

    Q: What’s one sports business story you are continuing to watch?
    Supovitz: The NFL CBA negotiations.

    Print | Tags: People and Pop Culture, NFL, Football
  • Executive Transactions

    The Harlem Globetrotters have hired Newsweek CMO ANGELA LEANEY as Exec VP/Brand Marketing, reporting to CEO KURT SCHNEIDER. Prior to Newsweek, Leaney served as Senior VP at Nickelodeon (Globetrotters)....Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic has hired RAY FRAGER as Managing Editor for the network's digital media portfolio, including and Frager previously served as a Web Content Producer & Editor for (CSN)....Front Row Marketing Services has promoted VP/Project Management ERIC SMALLWOOD to Senior VP (Front Row)....Horizon Media has hired eFashionSolutions Business Development Marketing Dir DANIEL PARISE as Account Dir in Horizon's Sports Marketing Division (Horizon)....Russia Prime Minister VLADIMIR PUTIN has appointed SERGEI GAPLIKOV as head of construction for the '14 Sochi Games, "two weeks before athletes arrive for the first Olympic test events." Gaplikov, who previously served as a "deputy head of Putin's staff," replaces TAIMURAZ BOLLOYEV, who "stepped down for health reasons" (AP, 1/31)....Former MLB manager LOU PINIELLA is "joining the Giants as a special assistant" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/2)....The Montreal Impact hired MATT JORDAN as Dir of Soccer Operations (Impact).

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  • Names In The News

    Appeals court rules that France's divorce trial should play out in open court

    The N.C. Court of Appeals yesterday ruled that NASCAR Chair & CEO BRIAN FRANCE's "messy divorce and legal dispute with his ex-wife should play out in open court." France and his estranged wife, MEGAN, "had sought to keep their court proceedings secret, but the appeals court upheld a Charlotte judge's order refusing to close their court hearings." The appeals court ruled that France "had failed to show that his interest in keeping the litigation secret outweighed the public's right to open court proceedings." The court did allow "previously filed documents in the case to remain sealed." The appeals court's ruling "can be appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/2).

    FIGHTING WORDS: Redskins Owner DANIEL SNYDER "has objected" to a November article in the Washington City Paper that "detailed some of his controversial actions as team owner and other reports about him in the weekly publication, and has threatened legal action against the newspaper." The article, "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide To Dan Snyder," detailed "dozens of Snyder's actions as team owner and businessman." Snyder also is "seeking the dismissal of the article's author," staff writer DAVE MCKENNA. In a letter sent to the City Paper's owners after the article's publication, Redskins General Counsel & COO DAVID DONOVAN alleged that Snyder "had been defamed by the publication and that legal action was an option." However, "no lawsuit has been filed" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/2).

    NEXT IN LINE? In London, Oliver Owen profiled Just Marketing Int'l Founder & CEO ZAK BROWN, who "might be the man to step into BERNIE ECCLESTONE's shoes" after the F1 Management Chair steps down. Just Marketing "has made Brown not just a very rich man, but a key figure in Formula One." Ecclestone was "happy to offer a rare endorsement," saying, "I know first-hand the determination and drive Zak Brown delivers to the commercial side of Formula One." Brown: "We've done a lot of business with Bernie. You'll see us in Singapore, China, Daytona. Sponsorship is the world we live in and we do more of it than anyone else." But Brown added, "It will be impossible to replace Bernie. You'd certainly have to approach it with a bit of a team. You'd need a chief executive, but Bernie's got such a unique skill set that I look around the world and I don't know if you could pop in and be Bernie overnight" (London OBSERVER, 1/30).

    NAMES: Former MLBer MIKE PIAZZA "has been working on his memoir, to be published in early 2012 by Simon & Schuster." Simon & Schuster Dir of Publicity TRACEY GUEST said that Piazza is working with author LONNIE WHEELER. Guest added Piazza would write about "his entire baseball career, including his years with the Dodgers and the Mets, and will address the subject of steroids" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/2)....MMA fighter ANDERSON SILVA "has signed with 9ine, the upstart sports marketing firm of soccer great RONALDO." The company "officially launches in March." Silva "will still be managed" by ED SOARES and JORGE GUIMARAES, while 9ine will "look to secure sponsorships and opportunities to develop the brand" of Silva (, 2/1)....The Tennessee Sports HOF named country music singer KENNY CHESNEY its Tennessean of the Year for his ESPN documentary "The Boys of Fall." The film "examines the positive effects of playing football." Chesney "donated 10,000 DVD copies of the film to high schools and coaches of high school football teams" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 2/2)....Packers college scout ALONZO HIGHSMITH was named the NFL Scout of the Year (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 2/2).

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