SBD/June 19, 2017/People and Pop Culture

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  • ESPN President John Skipper Gives Blueprint For Future With Executive Shake-Up

    ESPN President JOHN SKIPPER's "earthshaking announcement" Friday of promotions, realignments and farewells among senior execs is "in part admission that the old architecture wasn't working -- and also in part, Skipper's bold blueprint for the future," according to author James Andrew Miller in a guest column for the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Either way, ESPN's "'new world order' finally looks like a company run" by Skipper. He has to "know better than anybody the challenges that ESPN faces and the necessity for putting together the best possible roster if he's going to steady what has appeared in recent years a somewhat shaky ship." Newly promoted Exec VP/Content CONNOR SCHELL will be "one part of a new three-headed leadership monster that will serve Skipper and help him lead ESPN employees into its ever-clouded future." Schell "first garnered outside attention when he co-created ESPN's hugely acclaimed '30 for 30' documentary series with BILL SIMMONS."

    HARD TO SAY GOODBYE: Skipper "bid farewell to two of his closest lieutenants throughout his presidency" in Exec VP/Global Business & Content Strategy MARIE DONOGHUE and Exec VP/Digital & Print Media JOHN KOSNER. Donoghue, whom Skipper "championed unwaveringly until the end," had "survived a vote of no-confidence from none other than the powerful" Simmons when he was at the net. Yet "ironically she couldn't excel in a post-Simmons world." Key execs inside ESPN "lacked faith in Donoghue's expertise or resented her management style, or both." Skipper in a statement said he worked with Donoghue for 17 years and she has "proven to be creative and forward thinking, with unique insight across evolving and traditional media." He added, "She is a dedicated, talented, seasoned executive and I look forward to her counsel." Meanwhile, Miller notes it could be argued that Kosner's departure is "just as much his decision as Skipper's, since it's doubtful Skipper would have ever axed Kosner on his own." But Skipper "must have known that he was making it unlikely if not impossible that Kosner would agree to report to Schell after having had a privileged direct line to the big boss." Skipper has had a "much tougher presidency than any other ESPN president except for CHET SIMMONS, who helped launch the company." Skipper now has to "write a new chapter filled with success while being mindful that in a few short years, ESPN's deals with the NFL, baseball and other big-time acquisitions will be up for grabs" (, 6/19).

    A BIG LOSS:'s Richard Deitsch wrote Donoghue's departure is "significant," as she was one of the "most powerful behind the scenes figures at ESPN and a key member" of Skipper’s inner circle. Deitsch: "Clearly, that changed." She "notably was the top business executive in charge of Grantland, including when ESPN folded the site." It was a "mess" with Donoghue and Simmons at the end of Grantland, and "that's part of her resume." But Donoghue is the person who "came to fix The Undefeated" (, 6/18).

    LET'S TALK IT OUT: SBJ/SBD Executive Editor Abe Madkour and media writer John Ourand discuss ESPN’s management changes in this 10-minute podcast. Ourand believes the moves set up the line of succession for Skipper, with JUSTIN CONNOLLY, Schell and BURKE MAGNUS ready to take over when Skipper ultimately decides to leave. Madkour: “At the Thought Leaders Retreat we just completed at Half Moon Bay, conversation was dominated by the future of ESPN. ... It’s a company that keeps giving us news and keeps giving us exciting stories to watch and monitor.”

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  • Jeanie Buss Embraces Challenge Of Rebuilding Storied Lakers Franchise After Father's Death

    Buss faces her greatest test in reviving the Lakers after a few down years

    Lakers President JEANIE BUSS is not only the "most powerful woman in sports," she is also "one of the most powerful people" in the industry, according to a profile by Tania Ganguli of the L.A. TIMES. Now Buss, 55, "faces her greatest test: reviving the NBA’s glamour franchise, which has stumbled badly" since the death of her father, JERRY BUSS, in '13. Jeanie Buss "may not have the answers -- yet -- but she is unmistakably in charge." She is "shy but assumes an outgoing persona when her job calls for it." Buss "got married once, for three years, in the 1990s, and doesn’t think she’ll do it again." She "likes children and would have liked to have some but felt that would have required multitasking she didn’t feel equipped to do." Buss: “For me, the burning desire has always been about building what my family had. Making it better and keeping it healthy and strong. That’s a motivating factor for me in my life." As for her personal life, Buss said she is not "one of the Kardashians." Buss: “I’m not that interesting." Knicks President PHIL JACKSON, who was previously in a long-term relationship with Buss, said the NBA had "never been very amenable, happy about" their relationship. Jackson: “There’s this ... feeling that there could be collusion between those two franchises. So that was something that was difficult for us. It’s not that reason (why the relationship ended) -- I think distance is the biggest reason" (L.A. TIMES, 6/18).

    BROTHER'S KEEPER: In a separate piece, Ganguli noted Buss' brother JOHNNY was "once an heir to his father Jerry Buss' kingdom, but insists the sports world never quite interested him." After his father's death, that interest "waned even more." Johnny Buss: "The desire to be an owner left when my dad passed away. I don't think there's any thrill in it. I think there's a lot of money in it. If you knew me you would understand I'm not about money at all." Buss, formerly Lakers Exec VP/Strategic Development, "never fully dove into his family's sports holdings, but he stuck around while his father lived." But he "insisted he never wanted to push out his sister" from the Lakers. Buss: "Not only have I resigned from (the Lakers), I've resigned from being a member of the Buss family." Buss said that he "plans to run for political office next year" (, 6/18). 

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  • Executive Transactions

    The MLB Giants named Raiders CRM Manager JOE SHAPERO CRM Manager & Data Analyst (THE DAILY)....Atlanta-based CSE named ASHLEY BAXTER and BRENTON HOWARD Senior Account Execs, JASON DEMPSEY Studio Designer and MADELINE LOCKRIDGE Account Coordinator (THE DAILY)....Univ. of Michigan Associate AD/Football JIM MINICK has "left the department" for a job focused on the military in the private sector. Minick was "one of JIM HARBAUGH's first hires" at UM (, 6/17).

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  • Names In The News

    Kraft organized the trip as a way for HOFers to experience Israel's culture and history

    Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT is "in the midst of 'Touchdown in Israel II,'" in which he leads a group of 18 Pro Football HOFers through the country to "experience the culture and history of Israel and participate in special football events showcasing the growth of the game in the country." Among those on this year's trip are JIM BROWN, JOE MONTANA, ROGER STAUBACH, JOE GREENE, ERIC DICKERSON, MIKE SINGLETARY, and ANDRE TIPPETT (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/18).

    NAMES: Patriots QB TOM BRADY was in China on a promotional tour for Under Armour this weekend when he made an appearance in Beijing, "practicing what media reports describe as 'martial arts techniques'" with a fitness instructor. Brady also stopped by the Great Wall of China, where he was "photographed with a Super Bowl trophy" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/18)....The Stanley Cup on Saturday "appeared at four hockey rinks around the Pittsburgh area." Penguins Head Equipment Manager DANNY KROLL "surprised" six-year-old DARRAN DUNLAP with the Cup. Dunlap, the daughter of Pittsburgh-based KDKA-FM's "Fan Morning Show" host COLIN DUNLAP, was "diagnosed with leukemia last November" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/18)....Dolphins LB KIKO ALONSO was "one of the promoters" for Saturday's Boxing Storm 3 at Miami Airport Convention Center. The main event featured HAROLD CALDERON against WILFRIDO BUELVAS (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/17).

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