SBJ/February 4 - 10, 2008/Faces Places

Inside Out

When Dave Warren and Larry Rowen worked on the ESPN-SportsCapsule youth team highlights project, they had plenty of reason to be antagonistic. “Larry is a direct response guy and I’m a branding guy. Everyone knows the two sides don’t normally get along,” Warren said. “Then when I told him my children’s names — Jake and Annie — he got visibly upset. He thought I was making fun of him.” It turned out that Rowen also had a Jake and an Annie. They both lived in Westchester and, to top it off, both their wives, Dina Warren and Sarah Rowen, are psychotherapists. In 2002, after the demise of SportsCapsule, they formed Rowen/Warren, a creative agency that now goes by the name of Fly Communications. Warren says it’s a “cool name. You can see things better from the air. It’s about soaring.” SI is among their clients, and several ESPN platforms. Also the NFL. … When Rob Stecklow, the NFL’s director of advertising and media, wanted to create a $2 million ad campaign to showcase the league’s divisions he turned to his old ABC workmate, Warren. They are both former Florida Gators, and everyone knows Gators stick together. “It’s funny that whenever I’m introduced to a fellow Gator, there is an easiness that wouldn’t otherwise exist,” Stecklow said. “I even had my picture taken once with Rex Grossman. It’s something we don’t normally ask for. But he was a Gator.” Stecklow said the nine-page campaign, featured in the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl programs, uses fans “to underscore the breadth and excitement of our brand.”

The plans to honor Jim Nantz at the Super Bowl with the third Pat Summerall Award (James Brown and Greg Gumbel were previous winners) had been developing over months. Cheryl DeLeonardis, whose Ocean 2 Ocean Productions puts on the event to benefit St. Jude, had involved the NFL’s Greg Aiello, CBS’s Tony Petitti and Leslie Anne Wade, NFL Films’ Steve Sabol and Fox’s Lou D’Ermilio. “I had worked for months securing all of Jim’s college roommates from the University of Houston to be surprise guests — tour players Fred Couples and Blaine McCallister and their third roommate, John Horne, a Texas golf pro. I swore them to secrecy.” In December, DeLeonardis sent a PowerPoint presentation to the Hyatt Regency. When Nantz went to Phoenix to shoot a commercial he stopped by the hotel to check out the ballroom where the event was to be held. The presentation was up on the screen revealing the surprise. “But thank goodness the AV guys got it down before he walked in.”

ESPN acquired the distribution and television rights to Ted Leonsis’ “Kicking It,” his second “filmanthropy.” (His first, the award-winning “Nanking,” was short-listed for an Oscar but didn’t receive a nomination.) “Kicking It,” directed by Susan Koch and narrated by Colin Farrell, follows a half-dozen of the 500 participants from 48 countries in the Homeless World Cup. “‘Kicking It’ speaks to the perseverance of the human spirit and the global impact of sport,” said Keith Clinkscales, ESPN SVP. … Dennis Parker was a beggar with one leg, having lost the other fighting in Liberia’s 14-year civil war. Now he’s one of his country’s best-known celebrities. He participated in the World Amputee Football Championship in Turkey and is featured in one of FIFA’s series of films, “Football’s Hidden Story.” … Ralph Straus, the Dutch-born head of strategy and brand management at FIFA, says he never has time to finish do-it-yourself projects at his Zurich home, which was built in 1881, but he got FIFA’s first retail store open at Singapore’s Changi Airport. More stores are planned, including one in Los Angeles. The idea, according to Straus, is brand extension more than retail profits and “by presenting some cool FIFA products, it helps bridge the gap in our four-year cycle.”

When Dale Jarrett joins Dr. Jerry Punch and Andy Petree in ESPN’s NASCAR booth, it will be a reunion of three high school friends — Newton-Conover High School in North Carolina — who were 1979 partners in one of Jarrett’s first race cars. … ESPN’s “Shifting Gears” is a five-part documentary of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s move from DEI, founded by his father, to Hendrick Motorsports. “We were working on a DVD about my life and the guys kept getting more and more footage, so they decided to put a whole TV show together,” said Earnhardt.

The Chicago Pitch and Hit Club welcomed
Bob Feller recently. Front, from left: Jack
Gallo, Feller, John Dittrich. Back: Terry
Ayers, Jim Hall, Chip Sobek, Ken Miller
and Peter Caliendo.

Andy Zimbalist danced in two rehearsals and three performances of the Pioneer Valley Ballet holiday production of “The Nutcracker” in western Massachusetts with 9-year-old daughter Ella. “It was a lot of fun, and I didn’t have to get up on my toes.” … Bob Feller, who at 89 is the second-oldest living hall of famer (Bobby Doerr is the oldest) signed autographs for hours for many of the 900 who honored him at the Chicago Pitch and Hit Club. Club President Peter Caliendo, who owns Caliendo Sports International and was recently appointed chairman of the International Baseball Federation’s technical committee, said the event, which also honored Curtis Granderson and Marquis Grissom, raised thousands for Chicago-area youth. Cubs GM Jim Hendry was a featured speaker. … On Michael Barkann’s sports-tainment show “Comcast SportsNet’s Monday Night Live,” newly elected Philly Mayor Michael Nutter sang “Rapper’s Delight” backed by the house band, The Quake.

John Genzale can be reached at

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