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ESPN will not let VP/Original Programming & Production JAMIE HOROWITZ out of his contract, putting an end to the producer's negotiations to move to NBC's "TODAY" show -- at least for now. A network source told THE DAILY, "He has a contract with ESPN, and ESPN is going to require him to fulfill it." ESPN President JOHN SKIPPER and Comcast's top execs had been negotiating to let Horowitz out of his deal, where he oversees shows like "OLBERMANN" and "FIRST TAKE." It is not clear how much longer Horowitz has left on his ESPN deal, but a source described it as "multiyear." Deadspin first reported on Monday that NBC approached Horowitz to take over "Today." Horowitz joined ESPN in '06 and is widely credited for pushing the company's controversial "Embrace Debate" mantra that became the focus of many morning and afternoon shows.
Super Bowl Boulevard, the NFL's "crown jewel" for Super Bowl XLVIII entertainment, officially opens today in N.Y. across 13 city blocks, "with toboggan rides, musical entertainment, the Vince Lombardi trophy, an NFL shop, 3-D movie and an illuminated statue spelling out 'XLVIII' in giant letters." NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL "will be on hand for the big roman-numeral debut," as well as N.Y. Mayor BILL DE BLASIO and former Giants WR DAVID TYREE. Elsewhere, FALL OUT BOY will perform in Brooklyn tonight as part of VH1's Super Bowl Blitz concert series (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/29).
TONIGHT, TONIGHT: Fox' JAY GLAZER hosts the eighth annual Super Bowl Kickoff party at Pranna Restaurant & Nightclub (Branded Management)....The Madden NFL: 25 Years & Running features Panthers QB CAM NEWTON, Pro Football HOFer MARSHALL FAULK and Eagles QB MICHAEL VICK (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/28)....Roc Nation Sports and Airbnb host the "Welcome to New York" media night in the first of a three-night series of events hosted by Cruz, Yankees P CC SABATHIA and DJ D NICE (Roc Nation Sports)....Showtime and Food Network host their Ultimate Tailgating Experience at Time Warner Cable Studios, featuring Giants WR VICTOR CRUZ and CBS' BILL COWHER (TWC)....Cruz "plans on attending 'two or three' Super Bowl parties and host one himself the night before the Super Bowl" (N.Y. POST, 1/29)....Pepsi's #PepCity will feature Cruz and Packers WR RANDALL COBB serving food from three celebrity chefs: DAVID BURKE, MARC FORGIONE and MICHAEL PSILAKIS. Performing musicians include AUSTIN MAHONE, PRINCE ROYCE and ZIGGY MARLEY (Pepsi)....USA Today Sports Media Group's For The Win property will host a party at midtown's 50 Yard Lounge (USA Today Sports).
HUNGRY YET? Restaurateur DANNY MEYER opens Forty Ate, a "temporary restaurant for Super Bowl week" at the Renaissance Times Square. All 47 Super Bowl rings will be on display, and the dining room "overlooks Times Square." The menu "is remarkable in its brevity and its expansiveness" (NJ.com, 1/28)....GUY FIERI's American Kitchen will host a "culinary Super Bowl Series," with a dinner by DINO GATTO of Rao's. The event is organized by HERB KARLITZ and will feature Cruz, DAN MARINO, BOOMER ESIASON and PHIL SIMMS. It also will feature EMERIL LAGASSE, MARIO BATALI and BUDDY VALASTRO (N.Y. POST, 1/29).
In Denver, Mike Klis writes the Broncos' PAT BOWLEN "for nearly three decades has been an NFL owner of considerable influence." Former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE yesterday said, "I'm so happy for Pat. He's probably one of the top five owners that I've ever dealt with. ... I'm not going to start picking the other four, but you can put the MARA family (of the New York Giants) in there. The beauty of Pat was when he first came in, he said there's a lot you don't know and you've got to listen. He did that. He very quickly became very influential" (DENVER POST, 1/29).
SUPER LOBBYING: USA TODAY's Schouten & Schnaars cite campaign contribution data as showing that Broncos employees "have given more money to federal politicians" than Seahawks employees. Broncos ownership, employees and their relatives "have contributed at least $84,000 to federal candidates and political parties since Jan. 1, 2011 -- nearly twice what people affiliated" with the Seahawks have donated. Among the Broncos' "top givers" is Exec VP/Football Operations JOHN ELWAY, who "pumped more than $50,000" into MITT ROMNEY's presidential campaign in '12 and "has donated $3,500 over two election cycles" to U.S. Rep. MIKE COFFMAN (R-Colo.). The "biggest giver on the Seahawks' roster" was Owner PAUL ALLEN, "who donated more than $40,000 during the period examined." Allen's contributions "were divided nearly evenly between Republicans and Democrats," ranging from U.S. Rep. DAVID CAMP (R-Mich.) to U.S. Rep. SUZAN DELBENE (D-Wash.), who is a "former Microsoft executive" (USA TODAY, 1/29).
PLAYING POLITICS: N.Y. Mayor BILL DE BLASIO "has scored coveted tickets to the Super Bowl, but he hasn’t decided whether to attend." Sources said that New York Gov. ANDREW CUOMO "hasn’t firmly committed to attending." A source added that former N.Y. Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG "declined tickets because he will be out of town" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/29)....Minnesota Gov. MARK DAYTON "had planned to fly to the New York area this weekend to pitch Minnesota's bid to win the 2018 Super Bowl but on Wednesday his office said he canceled his plans" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/29).
GAME FILM: The movie "DRAFT DAY" was screened yesterday "for about 150 Browns staffers." The film's plot revolves around fictional Browns GM Sonny Weaver Jr. -- played by KEVIN COSTNER -- as he "takes bold steps to try and score the number one pick." Film director IVAN REITMAN "made everything look authentic, down to the Browns offices and the paper-strewn war room." The movie "will not hit theaters until April 11," but the producers "wanted to try and grab some of the pre-Super Bowl buzz" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/29).
SUPER BOWL NAMES: Former Miami Herald Sports Editor EDWIN POPE, "among only a handful of sportswriters in America who have covered every Super Bowl game, will not be attending or covering Super Bowl XLVIII." No reason "was given for Pope breaking his Super Bowl streak" and he declined comment on the matter (MIAMIHERALD.com, 1/28)....ESPN analyst TIM TEBOW on Friday "will cross over" and serve as co-host of ABC's "Good Morning America" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/28)....Patriots QB TOM BRADY and his family are "holed up in a luxe waterfront home at the Baker's Bay Golf & Ocean Club" in the Bahamas for Super Bowl week (BOSTON HERALD, 1/29).
Overseeing sports talent for TNT, TBS and CNN -- plus online and new media -- Turner Sports VP/Talent Services TARA AUGUST touches just about every sport and platform for the Atlanta-based media giant. In charge of talent acquisition, contract negotiations, media assignments, and booking on-air guests, her job melds together aspects of management, PR and TV production. "It's almost like I'm an internal agent for Turner," she says. In this case, August's agency consists of five department staffers, plus about 50 full-time talent at Turner Sports, including MLB, NBA, NASCAR, NCAA basketball, and golf. Here, she chats with THE DAILY about searching for the next great commentator, why sports TV needs to lighten up a little, and which NBA analyst could be found hanging out with DON HENLEY.
A day in the life...
I spend most of my time thinking about long-range planning: What’s the next iteration of our show, what’s the next iteration of our games? Who do we want to hire, who should we bring in? Thinking about superstars that are retiring and how we build relationships with them. Who would be good, and who might not be? It's not just about the ex-athletes, we've got hosts and sideline reporters. I can't give away who's on our radar. But when we have our eye on someone, we'll put a little star by their name and sort of watch contract talks and think, "I wonder how long that girl or guy will be playing, they seem like they've got something interesting."
Vote for Pedro...
We really wanted to come out with a bang last year, and from the beginning, we were all super impressed with PEDRO MARTINEZ. He typifies what we like to do, which is take chances but also let people be themselves. We don’t want to put them in a box. Both on and off the air, he's the nicest guy, so funny, and the accent just adds to the flavor of it all. The suits, the hair -- he was just amazing.
I talk to SHAQ's rep every single day. I’d say COLIN SMEETON and I now are really close friends, just for the sheer volume. Shaq has so much going on so we really have to be in-depth with communicating with each other. Me communicating to them what new shows we have going on, or show ideas, what new elements are coming up. And they've got new partners that they want to introduce us to, or appearances that they're making.
The sports industry needs more...
Having fun with it. I love on our network or a competitive network when you see a little personality come out. So if someone makes a joke or is self-deprecating or they say the wrong word and they can laugh it off, I feel viewers can connect with that. I like real moments in sports television.
Give people their moment and be kind to people, and I've learned that most from CHARLES BARKLEY. If you’ve ever met him or seen him in a room, he’s extremely appreciative that people want to say hello or take a photo. It can be exhausting, but he makes everybody feel like they had their moment, and they had some attention from him. He's extremely kind, extremely humble, and showing that through example is even better than being able to preach it in words. Charles and I are great friends, he's such a kind and generous person, he's a friend to anybody.
Wake up, get outta bed...
The first thing I look at most days is Instagram. I'm not a huge social media person. I don't even post that much, but I'm really interested in looking at photos, posts and what people are liking and not. It's a fun, snackable thing to get your brain going that's not a harassing e-mail or headline.
Checking in on the "competition"...
I like to balance my day with non-sports information, because that's sometimes where I get ideas, when I'm watching trashy reality TV or international news. I watch so much sports that sometimes I want to watch what other platforms are doing. I want to see what MTV is doing or what Bravo is doing, and look at how we can use that in the sports realm. My excuse is, I'm in talent, so I need to know the whole spectrum of talent. We get plenty of calls from reality stars who say, "Hey, I want to be your next sideline reporter," or, "Can you put me as a correspondent during All-Star week?"
They're playing my song...
I'm from the West Coast, so I have an affinity for West Coast hip-hop. Now I'm in Atlanta, so I'm a little turned out with 2 CHAINZ and YOUNG JEEZY, a little YUNG JOC, a little WAKA FLOCKA, that's probably playing in my car or even in my house. I'll answer the phone and have to turn it down because I've got some obnoxious lyric playing in my office. Also, everybody knows that I'm a MARIAH CAREY fan. I'm absolutely obsessed with Mariah. I don't like kooky divas -- except for Mariah.
In my free time...
I like going to concerts. I went to an EAGLES concert with Charles Barkley a few years ago, along with a bunch of people from production. I've been a huge Eagles fan ever since. Charles is a huge, huge Eagles fan. He's probably seen them 10 times. We've had a lot of fun with Don Henley. Charles likes to go to dive bars and small places if somebody comes in town. NELLY is here a lot, so he and Nelly hang out quite a bit.
Turnkey Sports & Entertainment promoted MELISSA DEAN to CFO & CAO, EMILY HUDDELL to VP/Marketing, CAROLYNE SAVINI to Senior VP, DIANA BUSINO to Turnkey Search VP and EVELYN DWYER to Turnkey Intelligence Senior Manager of Consumer Research. Turnkey Intelligence also hired MARISSA RAZZANTE as Senior Manager of Consumer Research (Turnkey)….Univ. of Texas-Arlington Senior Associate AD/External Relations GREGG ELKIN left his position last week (UTA)….The New York Thoroughbred Breeders BOD “unanimously re-elected” President BARRY OSTRAGER, along with Secretary & Treasurer VIVIEN MALLOY, to two-year terms (BLOODHORSE.com, 1/28)….Florida State Univ. named ACC Senior Associate Commissioner/Men’s Basketball Operations KARL HICKS to the newly-created position of Deputy AD/External Operations (FSU).
Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to email@example.com.
Recently retired NFLer JAHVID BEST has "filed a lawsuit" against the league and helmet manufacturer Riddell seeking "both economic and non-economic" damages. Best argues that the league "did not do enough to protect players from head injuries." A Lions spokesperson "declined comment because the team is not involved" in the suit. A dollar amount for the suit has not been specified. Best "suffered three concussions with the Lions after being drafted in the first round" in '10. The last one, suffered in October '11, "forced him to miss" the entire '12 season, and the Lions released him in July '13 (DETROIT NEWS, 1/29).
AWARDS & HONORS: The L.A. Sports Council named Dodgers President & CEO STAN KASTEN Sports Exec of the Year. Kasten will be honored March 5 at the annual L.A. Sports Awards (LASC)....Multichannel News named ESPN Senior VP/Operations JODI MARKLEY, ESPN Senior VP/Multimedia Sales PATRICIA BETRON and CBS Sports Senior VP/Operations, Engineering & Production Planning PATTY POWER to its '14 "Wonder Women" list (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 1/27 issue).
NAMES: RUSS LIBBY, owner of Hidden Hills Country Club in Jacksonville, is "one of three nominees" to be PGA of America Secretary, a position "which eventually will lead to a two-year term" as President after a term as Secretary and then two years as VP. The election takes place Nov. 28 (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/29)....Former NFLer DOUG FLUTIE held his annual celebrity bowling tournament last night near Boston, with proceeds benefiting the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/29)....Patriots DT VINCE WILFORK yesterday visited Eastern Bank's annual meeting in Randolph, Mass. (BOSTONHERALD.com, 1/28)....Braves 1B FREDDIE FREEMAN got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, CHELSEA GOFF (AJC.com, 1/28)....Victoria's Secret model ERIN HEATHERTON, ESPN anchor STAN VERRETT, comedian KEVIN HART, singer NICK CANNON, actor MICHAEL B. JORDAN, U.S. Secretary of Education ARNE DUNCAN, ESPN's MIKE GOLIC and MIKE GREENBERG, WNBA Shock G SKYLAR DIGGINS, WNBA Sky F ELENA DELLE DONNE will play in the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game next month. ESPN's BILL SIMMONS and JALEN ROSE will be coaches (NBA).
IN MEMORY: Former Eagles President HARRY GAMBLE died yesterday at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife, JOAN, and their two sons, HARRY and TOM -- the latter of whom serves as Eagles VP/Player Personnel -- and three grandchildren. Gamble was Eagles President from ’86-94 and served as a member of the NFL Competition Committee (Eagles). ESPN.com’s Phil Sheridan wrote the “key to Gamble’s success in the NFL was his role as a buffer" between former Eagles Owner NORMAN BRAMAN and his “equally mercurial head coach, BUDDY RYAN” (ESPN.com, 1/28).