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ESPN’s Chris Berman interviewed both President Obama and Mitt Romney during halftime of ESPN’s Eagles-Saints "MNF" game last night, but a large number of Twitter users were ambivalent about the segment. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz wrote, "Oh goody, just what we all wanted and needed on this night: Chris Berman breaking down the election." Dallas Morning News Evan Grant wrote, "Chris Berman interviewing Obama and Romney? OK, the election is officially a farce." The Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti wrote, "I turned off the sound when Chris Berman started his interviews with the presidential candidates." SB Nation's Jeff Gluck wrote, "Just goes to show you how clueless upper management TV execs are that they think we want to see Chris Berman interview candidates." WFAN-AM's Sweeny Murti wrote, "Wow. Those Berman interviews were awesome. Can't wait until the tables are turned when A-Rod guests on Meet The Press." Newsday's Erik Boland wrote, "I wonder how many people will, at the last minute, decide to vote because Chris Berman and Mike Tirico told them they should."
WEIGHING IN: Berman during the segment asked Obama what “does he now know about America and Americans that he may not have known four years ago.” Obama said, “This is a big, diverse country. People have a lot of strong opinions, there are a lot of differences but at their core Americans are hard-working, they are self-reliant, they are decent, they look after one another. ... One of the big unifiers in this country is sports, and football in particular. You don’t go anyplace where folks don’t talk about some football.” Berman noted Obama four years ago called for a college football playoff, something that will happen in beginning in '14. Obama jokingly said, “Promises made, promises kept. ... This is the kind of change you can believe in." He added he would "like to see it actually go to eight” teams in a playoff instead of four. Romney during his interview said if he could change one thing in sports it would be to remove the “specter” of performance-enhancing drugs because “that’s the biggest concern in sport.” Romney said when he was serving as SLOC President & CEO for the ’02 Salt Lake Games, “that was always the issue that clouded a potential accomplishment.” Romney said at the Salt Lake Games he saw the “great qualities of the human spirit,” which will help him if he is elected president. Romney: “Most people watch the Olympics not just because of the interest in the sport itself. I mean, how many people were avid fans of women’s bobsled, for instance, before the Olympics. But they watch the bobsled event because they get to see the character of human beings in the crucible of sport” (“MNF," ESPN, 11/5). Berman also interviewed Obama and John McCain the Monday night prior to the '08 election (THE DAILY).
THE RIGHT CHOICE? SI.com’s Richard Deitsch prior to the interviews wrote the selection of Berman to conduct the discussions was a "poor choice in my opinion given the network has at least 100 staffers better suited for the role.” Deitsch: “Will Berman ask relevant questions? Of course he will. A posse of smart and journalistically sound people led by ESPN senior vice president and director of news Vince Doria will aid Berman with tangible queries.” But ESPN has “plenty of people on staff ... who have far more journalistic bona fides than Berman, still solid as a host on ‘Sunday NFL Countdown’ but better suited at soft-balling Roger Goodell and NFL owners with ice cream sundaes when it comes to serious interviewing” (SI.com, 11/5). S.F. Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius said before the interviews, “Sporting events like this are like the ultimate live reality show. You’ve got a built-in audience, you’ve got people there. All I would say is don't fumble. You’ve got a lot of potential to mess up in front of a big audience. If it goes as planned, it’ll be fine” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 11/5).
"MNF" RATING: ESPN earned a 9.5 overnight Nielsen rating for the Saints' 28-13 win over the Eagles last night. The game does not include ratings for the greater N.Y. area due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Last year's comparable Bears-Eagles game drew an 11.7 overnight rating. Last night's game peaked with an 11.1 rating in the 9:30-9:45pm ET quarter hour (THE DAILY).
CBS yesterday announced that its first-year drama “Elementary” will receive the post-Super Bowl XLVII slot on Feb. 3, 2013, and is expected to air at approximately 10:00pm ET. The show currently airs Thursdays at 10:00pm ET and is averaging 14.2 million viewers, ranking as the No. 2 new series on TV this season (CBS). In L.A., Joe Flint noted NBC, which aired last season's Super Bowl, “used that big audience to launch the second season of its musical competition show ‘The Voice,’ which drew more than 37 million viewers.” The broadcast nets “used to try to launch new programs out of the Super Bowl but now tend to use it to promote existing shows.” The “last time a new show was launched behind the Super Bowl was when CBS premiered the reality program ‘Undercover Boss’ in 2010” (LATIMES.com, 11/5). DAILY VARIETY’s Andrew Wallenstein wrote, “Choose wisely and suddenly a show can hit a whole new level, as NBC's ‘The Office’ did in 2009. Make the wrong move and you fritter away an opportunity: The Peacock picked ‘The Good Life’ in 1994 only to see it die 13 episodes later.” The selection “boils down to either giving a new series the shot of a lifetime or giving an existing property a shot in the arm.” CBS went with the latter, and “therein lies the problem: ‘Elementary’ hasn't displayed the kind of potential some other Eye assets have demonstrated.” Given how well CBS is “poised for midseason, the network would have been best launching a new series.” If there is any network that “knows how best to pump up a primetime property with the Super Bowl, it's CBS.” But picking a scripted drama “runs counter to the strategy it has employed in three of its last four outings” (VARIETY.com, 11/5).
Fox' Terry Bradshaw yesterday apologized for a comment he made during highlights of Sunday's Dolphins-Colts game, according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. During a clip of a touchdown by Dolphins RB Reggie Bush, Bradshaw said it was "like he was chasing that bucket of chicken the wind was blowing.” Bradshaw said that he “meant to say ‘you’ as a reference” to fellow Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson. Bradshaw said, “[I’m] so sorry if I hurt anybody, and I’m shocked I’m in this position.” Bradshaw said that the comment was “just part of a running joke." He said Johnson's "big thing is chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken. He won't share it with anybody" (USA TODAY, 11/6). Fox studio host Curt Menefee yesterday defended Bradshaw, saying that the "'controversy' is much ado about nothing." SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote, "When you listen to the full quote, it's not hard to believe the Fox guys. But maybe the lesson here is to leave the inside jokes off the air" (SI.com, 11/5).
HERE WE GO AGAIN: In DC, Clinton Yates wrote Menefee's reaction to Bradshaw Sunday "was extremely telling." Yates: "He didn’t laugh to cover up the joke. He didn’t stay silent as if to try ignore it. He let out an audible groan that seemed to say, 'If I could say something about this, I would.'" Yates added, "That was the saddest part. Menefee appeared to feel muted. ... Is America really too stupid to deal with the reality of racial insensitivity amongst our countrymen if we’re forced to understand the valiance of war while we watch football? The answer is no" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/5).
SI.com's Richard Deitsch reported TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley is "almost done" with his broadcasting career. Barkley said, "I love my job. I love the people I work with. And I'm going to try to do things to keep me engaged. But I have four years left on my current deal and to be honest with you, it's going to be a struggle for me to make it for the whole four years." He added, "I need something more, or something else to do." Deitsch noted Barkley has "uttered similar things before ... but he offered extended remarks about needing a new challenge" (SI.com, 11/5).
GONNA MAKE YOU SWEAT: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic hired former Univ. of Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams as a college basketball analyst. Williams will be a studio analyst for shows including "Geico SportsNet Central" and "SportsTalk Live." He also will contribute to CSN Mid-Atlantic's websites. He will not work the booth for any games (John Ourand, THE DAILY). In DC, Dan Steinberg noted while Williams was a "weekly guest" on WTEM-AM last season, he "tried to lay low locally, giving new Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon space to build his own program." Williams did work for Big Ten Network last year, and moving to CSN Mid-Atlantic "might make that more challenging." But Williams said that Turgeon is "off to a fine start" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/4).
HUSKY ASSIGNMENT: In Hartford, Mike Anthony reported former UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun will join radio play-by-play announcer Joe D'Ambrosio for Friday's UConn-Michigan State game in Germany, which "could be a wonderful mix of insight and pure entertainment." Calhoun will "offer thoughts on his former team and players -- all, presumably, in his 100-mph, sometimes indecipherable cadence." Wayne Norman, the school's regular radio analyst, is "staying home for the UConn football game" Saturday afternoon (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/5).
SNAKES IN A BOOTH: In Phoenix, Paola Boivin notes the D'Backs yesterday introduced their new TV broadcast team of Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly, and the D'Backs "believe they hit a home run" with the hirings. Berthiaume has "less play by play experience than many who applied for the job." However, D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said that Berthiaume's "'cachet' in the business ... along with his eagerness and love of the sport enhanced his resume." Berthiaume said of Brenly, "He's the perfect guy for me. He's known here. He's won in the market here. He's been a terrific broadcaster for a long time, and he's got network credibility" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/6).
YESSSSSS! Blogger Ed Sherman wrote of CBS play-by-play announcer Marv Albert, who continues his career at the age of 71, "Turning 70 isn’t news in this business anymore. It is just a speed bump for broadcasters and analysts these days." The sports media industry is "jammed with guys who have blitzed past the notion of retirement age." Sherman: "Brent Musburger is 73; Verne Lundquist is 72. And heck, they’re just kids compared to Vin Scully, who turns 85 this month.” Albert jokingly said, “The most important thing is that 70 is the new 68.” Albert: “I’m better now than I ever have been. You learn so much as you’re doing it. I’m watching tapes and I’ll see things that get me annoyed and where I know I can improve. ... I understand better letting the crowd play more. I've always said it was important for me who I was working with, because I like to kid around a lot. But I've also learned to use my partner better.” He added, “I love what I’m doing. As long as I can stay at the same standard, there’s no reason to stop. It feels pretty good" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 11/5).
PEOPLE & PERSONALITIES: Comcast SportsNet Houston has hired Steve Bunin as an anchor and reporter. Bunin had been with ESPN since August '03. Meanwhile, CSN Mid-Atlantic hired Nicole Darin to serve as an anchor and reporter. Darin previously had been with CSN Chicago (THE DAILY)....Mavericks TV play-by-play announcer Mark Followill on Saturday "took a nasty fall on his bike" and was "taken to the emergency room with facial injuries." While it "was not believed that he had any broken bones," his return to the broadcast booth "is unknown at this time" (DALLASNEWS.com, 11/3).