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Heat G Dwyane Wade, Mandalay Sports Media co-Chair Mike Tollin and producer Justin Lin have sold “Three The Hard Way,” a half-hour comedy TV project to Fox, through Sony Pictures Television. The show is inspired by Wade’s N.Y. Times best-selling book, “Father First,” in which Wade shares his thoughts about fathers and sons and about his experience of being a single dad to two sons. In the comedy, penned by TV writer Ben Watkins, an NBA superstar player and his entourage of friends find themselves parenting by committee when the player gets full custody of his two sons. Wade, Tollin, Mandalay Sports Media, Watkins and Lin, who worked on several "The Fast And The Furious" films, are all represented by CAA, which brokered the deal. “Three The Hard Way” is the first TV development project for Wade’s ZZ Productions (Liz Mullen, Staff Writer). Wade said of the project, "I will be involved, very involved ... to the point where it has enough of what I would like to see from my story. Obviously it's a comedy, but there will be some things you want to let loose." He added that the show "would be inspired by some themes of 'The Cosby Show.'" Wade: "I think they'll be able to pull the comedy out of the dark moments" (ESPN.com, 11/19). Wade added, "The process came around the same time I was thinking about doing a book. It was like, 'I would love to see this on TV.' I didn't want to make it a movie. I wanted to make it something like a sitcom" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/20). Wade said of who would be playing him in the show, "I haven't figured that out yet. But I'm sure it will be someone very handsome" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/20).
FiveThirtyEight.com has hired several staff members to work under Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver. The website named Tampa Bay Times Managing Editor Mike Wilson to the same position. Kate Elazegui was named Creative Dir for FiveThirtyEight and Grantland after working previously for Pentagram, New York magazine and Vanity Fair. Carl Bialik was named Senior News Writer after previously writing the Wall Street Journal's Numbers Guy column. Micah Cohen was named Senior Editor, overseeing the website's blogs, after previously partnering with Silver on FiveThirtyEight at the N.Y. Times. Cohen also will write and report on politics and other topics. Harry Enten was named Senior Politics Writer after previously writing for the Guardian. Walter Hickey was named Senior Science & Lifestyle Writer after previously writing for Business Insider (ESPN). The TAMPA BAY TIMES noted Wilson had been with the paper "for 18 years in various roles, serving as sole managing editor the past two years." He was a "Pulitzer Prize finalist as a writer" and also "edited a Pulitzer Prize winner." Wilson said, "I'm thrilled about the opportunity Nate has given me at FiveThirtyEight, which I believe will be a must-read site for anyone interested in politics, sports and culture" (TAMPABAY.com, 11/19). THE WRAP's Tony Maglio noted the new FiveThirtyEight "will be focused around five distinct content verticals: Sports, Politics, Economics, Science, and Lifestyle." The verticals "will be led by a team of writer/columnists, with additional content from staff writers as well as external contributors" (THEWRAP.com, 11/19).
'13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson yesterday "became the first athlete co-host" of ESPN’s "SportsCenter" when he joined regular hosts John Anderson and Lindsay Czarniak on the 6:00pm ET edition, according to Nate Scott of USA TODAY. Johnson was "featured in several segments, including one in which he asked analyst Tedy Bruschi six questions about the NFL." Show producers "tried to make things easy for Johnson, who has little-to-no broadcasting experience, by setting him up for interviews" with Red Sox C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, with "whom he compared beards and talked about winning a World Series," and Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops. Johnson and Stoops "are friendly, and shared stories about spending time together in Norman." Johnson's wife, Chandra, attended OU. Johnson also appeared on "Live With Kelly & Michael" yesterday, where hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan "had fun by giving Johnson time to practice reading from a teleprompter" (USA TODAY, 11/20).
ROOKIE MISTAKES: Johnson in the hour-long "SportsCenter" appearance seemed nervous at times and made a few minor errors. Anderson told Johnson at the outset, "I promise this is safer than racing." Johnson replied, "I don't know about that. We'll find out." When Johnson began speaking with Saltalamacchia, he said, "I guess looking at the right camera would help." The recent comments FS1's Donovan McNabb made about drivers not being athletes were addressed by Johnson, Anderson and Czarniak, but an awkward silence followed that caused Johnson to ask, "I guess it's up to me now, right? Now I get to throw it to the next segment." Anderson replied, "Whenever there's silence, we'll let you go and you can fill it." Meanwhile, as Johnson interviewed Stoops he asked, "I've got a very serious question for you: Did you ever think you'd be interviewed by me?" Stoops replied, "No, I would never have thought. I'm glad you're not ready to retire. You don't need a second job just yet. You've got quite a few more laps left in you." At the conclusion of the show, Johnson thanked the crew for helping him and said his "favorite part" of anchoring the show was "just that it’s over, to be honest." Czarniak: "That's a ringing endorsement for future guests." Johnson: "Well, it's a scary deal" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/19).
CBS NFL analyst Dan Dierdorf today announced he will retire from the broadcast booth following this season. Dierdorf is the longest-tenured NFL TV analyst and has most recently been teamed with CBS’ Greg Gumbel. The Pro Football HOFer has spent the last 30 years in the booth, including 12 years as part of "MNF," following a 13-year playing career. Dierdorf began his NFL broadcasting career in ’84 doing color analysis for St. Louis-based KMOX-AM’s Cardinals telecasts, as well as for CBS Radio Network (CBS). Bleacher Report's Aaron Nagler wrote on his Twitter account, "People love to make fun, but I'll miss him. His voice meant football was on." Author Jeff Pearlman wrote, "People have been waaaay too hard on the man. True pro, good at his job. No one's perfect -- but solid." SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote, "I'd look for Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts to be bumped up to the No. 2 NFL team at CBS."
OUR TOWN: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted the Patriots-Panthers "MNF" game was watched by 656,320 people in the Charlotte market, up 44% the Panthers' previous season best of 455,580 viewers for WJZY-Fox' Nov. 10 telecast of Panthers-49ers. Panthers-Patriots drew 347,490 viewers on the local ABC affiliate and 308,830 local viewers on ESPN (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/19). In Houston, David Barron noted KHOU-CBS drew a 21.5 local rating for Sunday's Raiders-Texans game, down from a 27.3 rating from the Nov. 10 Texans-Cardinals game (CHRON.com, 11/18).
LANDING ON BOTH FEET: CBSSN's Amy Trask said of her role with the net, "When I resigned my position with the Raiders, I had no plan, no idea, no thought as to what I would choose for my next adventure. ... I had an opportunity to speak with a group of CBS and CBS Sports Network representatives, and their vision, passion, intelligence, creativity and enthusiasm was very exciting and very enticing." Trask added, "This new adventure is terrifying, but the entire CBS, CBS Sports Network and 'TOPS' team is tremendous -- supportive, encouraging and tremendously helpful in every regard." Trask said of adjusting to being a TV analyst, "I find it quite a challenge to share my thoughts and views in a manner which is ideal for television. I tend to be a reflective, thoughtful speaker and I must learn to speak more concisely" (ESPNW.com, 11/19).
TIME FOR A CHANGE? In Cleveland, Mark Dawidziak reports U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) this week called on the FCC "to eliminate the Sports Blackout Rule," which was instituted in '73. Brown said, "I really don't want to go through the legislative process. My intent is work with the FCC to encourage them to change this, or to get the NFL to change its policy. We'll see if something comes down the line in the next few weeks and months. The NFL has bigger issues to deal with. They're under a lot of public criticism right now, but this would be a small step in respecting the fans" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/20).