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NBC walked away with nine Sports Emmy awards last night, the most by any network. NBC won big for its NFL coverage, which took home honors in six categories: Live Sports Series, Playoff Coverage, Sports Event Analyst (Cris Collinsworth), Studio Host (Bob Costas), Sports Reporter (Michele Tafoya) and Production Design/Art Direction. ESPN finished second with six statues, including three for "Outside the Lines" -- Short Feature, Long Feature and Edited Sports Special. Fox won five awards, including four for its MLB coverage (Live Sports Special, Play-by-Play for Joe Buck, Technical Team Remote and Live Event Audio Sound). TNT's "Inside the NBA" took home four statues, including a win for Charles Barkley as top studio analyst. "Inside the NBA's" other wins were for Top Weekly Studio Show, Sports Promo Announcement and Open/Tease. Turner also won for PGA.com, which was honored for New Approaches to Sports Event Coverage. Another big winner was Showtime's documentary, "A Game of Honor," which won three awards including Top Sports Documentary, New Approaches to Sports Programming and Sports Promotional Announcement. HBO, Showtime and MLB Network each won three Sports Emmys last night. Two of the big four broadcast networks did not win a Sports Emmy award last night. Nothing that appeared on CBS or ABC was honored, though the networks cable and Internet channels did receive honors (Showtime and CBSSports.com for CBS and ESPN for ABC). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell accepted the "Chairman's Award," making the league the first sports organization to win the award.
SHOWING EMOTION: The night had several emotional moments. Perhaps the most poignant occurred when ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi accepted the Long Feature Emmy for "OTL's" story on "The Man Behind the Red Bandana." The story is about Welles Crowther, who died during 9/11 after having already saved 12 people from the World Trade Center's South Tower. Crowther's parents, Jefferson and Alison, were in attendance last night, and Rinaldi acknowledged them from the stage. As the crowd rose and clapped, Jefferson became clearly emotional, dabbing at his eyes.
Whitaker is honored with the Lifetime Achievement
award at last night's Sports Emmy celebration
SALUTES FOR GOREN: Several honorees and presenters acknowledged longtime Fox exec Ed Goren, who is retiring this summer. One presenter, Curt Menefee, said, "I certainly would not be here today if it weren't for him." Goren received a standing ovation when he took the stage to accept the Sports Emmy for Live Sports Special, which was given to Fox for the World Series. Goren told a story from earlier in the day about how he walked behind Dick Ebersol for 10 blocks in Manhattan while the NBC exec was talking on his cell phone. "I finally had to shout out to him to let him know I was there," Goren said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
POKING FUN AT HIMSELF: TNT's Shaquille O'Neal had the line of the night while presenting one award. He opened his remarks by saying, "The last time I was up here, I was nominated for 'Kazaam.'"
NETWORKAWARDS NETWORKAWARDS NBC9 MLB Network3 ESPN6 Showtime3 Fox/Speed5 NFL Network2 Turner/PGA.com5 CBSSports.com1 HBO3 NBA TV1
NOTES: Bob Costas won the Studio Host Emmy for his work on NBC and MLB Network. Charles Barkley won the Studio Analyst Emmy for his work on TNT and NBA TV.
Tiger Woods in advance of this week’s PGA Tour Wells Fargo Championship decided to skip a pre-tournament interview in favor of a video Q&A session in which he answered pre-selected questions from fans, which were, “predictably, as penetrating as a soap bubble,” according to Robert Lusetich of FOXSPORTS.com. Some of Woods’ answers “did provide a hint of insight,” but “mainly, the nearly 15-minute session in which he appeared -- disturbingly, like a hostage -- alone in front of a video camera, was unadulterated fluff.” Two of the 19 questions were "thinly veiled infomercials for his two major sponsors, FUSE, a nutritional drink supplier, and Nike.” Woods’ decision “reeks of paranoia; a clumsy attempt at controlling the message” (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/1). GOLFCHANNEL.com’s Randall Mell writes under the header, “Woods Fields Softball Questions.” The questions were “all 2-footers,” as Woods “made sure to spare himself any tough, double-breaking questions from fans in the video he posted on his website.” That is “not to say the fans didn’t come up with some compelling questions; we’ll never know, because Woods got to pick and choose from a collection we’ll never see.” Mell: “If Edward R. Murrow or Mike Wallace were still around, surely they would have been taking notes on the penetrating quality of the inquiries”(GOLFCHANNEL.com, 5/1). GOLFWEEK’s Jeff Rude noted the questions Woods picked to answer “weren’t so much of the softball variety,” as they were “more like volleyball.” Woods “often takes the path of least resistance in news conferences,” but this was “more like no resistance” (GOLFWEEK.com, 4/30).
RIDDLE ME THIS: In Orlando, Jeff Shain notes Woods in the video was shown "relaxing on a couch as he responded” to the questions. The inquiries “ran the gamut, from asking Woods for his most memorable putt (last at the 1997 Masters) to what he drinks on the course between shots (electrolytes) to the ‘coolest trophy’ among the four majors (British Open)” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/1). YAHOO SPORTS’ Eric Adelson writes there were “several benign queries about golf,” and Woods “gave no insight into what was so wrong with his game at the Masters or how much his personal life has changed since he ran over a fire hydrant in 2009.” The video was “odd to say the least.” It “started abruptly, jumped between questions awkwardly -- it seemed to restart at the 11-minute mark -- and ended strangely, with an answer about the U.S. Open course and then fade to black.” It was “vintage Tiger in the post-Elin era: forced, disjointed and maddeningly bland” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/1). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jonathan Wall wrote the video Q&A “could get better going forward.” However, based on the “lack of video quality (what's with cutting the video off at the end without a sign-off?) and the decision to have Woods read the questions and answers, it's safe to say Team Tiger's new social media wrinkle needs some serious work.” Wall wrote, “I know Woods has spent countless hours in front of the camera, but after reading every question off a cheat sheet, it appeared as if he kept looking back down at the piece of paper, almost like he had pre-written answers on there as well. If that's the case, then ... wow.” Wall wrote the manner in which Woods answered the questions “was, well, boring” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/30).
NOT A GOOD PR MOVE: Author John Feinstein said of the video, "It's another bad public relations move by the people who are in charge of Tiger Woods’ public relations." Feinstein: "More and more athletes are communicating through Twitter and websites controlling their message, but it's not smart for Tiger Woods to do this. People will see this as another way of Tiger Woods ducking the media, and this is a guy who doesn't answer questions most of the time anyway. So can he get away with it? Yes. Is it smart? No.” Golf Channel's Lara Baldesarra said, “Tiger's team said this was a way for Tiger to boost his interaction with his fans, but should his focus be on more connecting with his fans or with the media?” Golf Channel's John Hawkins: “I don't understand why he can't do both. Why can't he have his 15-minute footsy with his Twitter followers and still do the press conference? I've said it a hundred times, Tiger doesn't just move the needle, he is the needle. He knows that. He's always been averse to people capitalizing on his presence and it's unfortunate that he's never really gotten over that. He could do both of these things” (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 4/30). Golf Channel’s Erik Kuselias said, “When you accept sponsor money, you accept being a public figure. You accept the $90 million you've made for most years recently and you accept the perks of fame that you have cashed in on … (but) there is an obligation side to that, too. For someone to say there is no obligation side to that is naive and stupid. ... It's part of the business that you've chosen. It just seems to me like this is not the smartest thing that Tiger could do long-term” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 5/1).
The USGA has teamed with former HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg for its first film production, an hour-long documentary on Jack Nicklaus’ '62 U.S. Open victory, his first major championship. The film, titled “1962 U.S. Open: Jack’s First Major,” will air June 17 on NBC prior to the broadcast of the U.S. Open’s final round from Olympic Club (USGA). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Michael Smith notes the film “tells the story of Nicklaus’ win over Arnold Palmer.” This is the USGA’s “first attempt to produce a documentary.” RBS, a USGA corporate partner from ‘08-11 and a “longtime Nicklaus sponsor, jumped onboard to fund the documentary.” Footage from '62 is “interspersed with current-day interviews of Nicklaus and Palmer to create the documentary” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/30 issue). The AP’s Doug Ferguson noted the film “will make its international debut a week earlier on British-based Sky Sports.” There are interviews “with Dow Finsterwald, Gary Player and Billy Maxwell, who played the final two rounds of regulation on Saturday with Nicklaus, along with journalists Dave Anderson and Marino Parascenzo, who covered the 1962 U.S. Open” (AP, 4/29). Arnold Palmer Center for Golf & History Museum Dir Robert Williams said, “We have great stories to tell, and while it’s nice to build a world-class exhibit, we always knew there’d be a time to use our resources in more impactful ways to expand the reach of the USGA and the museum.” GOLF WORLD’s Dave Shedloski noted the film is “part of a long-term strategic plan to ‘virtualize’ the museum at Golf House, which underwent a three-year renovation completed in 2008” (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 4/30 issue).
In N.Y., Claire Atksinson cited sources as saying that Hulu, which attracted “31 million unique users in March under a free-for-all model, is taking its first steps to change to a model where viewers will have to prove they are a pay-TV customer to watch their favorite shows.” The sources said that the move by Hulu toward the new model “was behind the move last week by Providence Equity Partners to cash out of Hulu after five years.” Atkinson noted Fox is “expected to begin talks soon with Comcast on a TV Everywhere deal that will require authentication.” Comcast is also “expected to switch to an authentication model for this summer’s Olympic Games” (N.Y. POST, 4/30).
ADVANTAGE, RANGERS: In Dallas, Barry Horn noted Saturday from 8:30-10:15pm CT, when the MLB Rangers and Mavericks “went head-to-head, the 21st game of the Rangers regular season out-scored the Mavs playoff opener.” The Rangers on FS Southwest “scored a 8.0 rating in those 105 minutes" compared to a 6.2 for the Mavericks on KTXA-CBS (2.1) and ESPN (4.1). The Mavericks “picked up steam after the Rangers-Rays ended" and finished with a combined 8.0 on ESPN (5.0) and KTXA (3.0) for the entire game. The Rangers “full game average was a 7.6” (DALLASNEWS.com, 4/30).
A WELCOME SURPRISE: The GUARDIAN'S Tara Conlan notes the BBC is “expecting an operating surplus” of US$227.2M for its “latest financial year to the end of March 2012, which it will use for any unexpected overspends in its Queen’s jubilee and Olympics coverage.” The surplus “may surprise some BBC staff who are facing job cuts … but the corporation said it plans to use it as a reserve for any extra costs incurred while covering the Olympics and diamond jubilee this summer” (GUARDIAN, 5/1).
AUDI ON AIR: DAILY VARIETY’s Marc Graser reported Speed “will air Audi's documentary ‘Truth in 24 II: Every Second Counts,’ May 5 before releasing the film about the grueling 24-hour Le Mans race on Apple's iTunes for free.” The film, “written and helmed by Rob Gehring, and produced by Intersports and NFL Films, revisits Audi Sports' racing team as it tries to win its 10th Le Mans race in 13 years.” Actor Jason Statham “once again narrates the pic, as he did the first, which followed the 2008 team.” Intersport President & CEO Charles Besser, NFL Senior VP/Broadcasting & Media Operations Howard Katz and NFL Films President Steve Sabol “serve as exec producers” (VARIETY.com, 4/27).