SBJ/March 17-23, 2014/Media

Strahan’s new projects include game show

Michael Strahan’s SMAC Entertainment has sold a game show that he will host in prime time to a major, over-the-air network, one of several entertainment projects the hall-of-famer turned sports broadcaster/morning show host is working on.

Strahan is also the producer of an untitled major motion picture in development, a biopic on the late boxer Arturo Gatti. That project is being co-produced by Mark Wahlberg.

Strahan, who anchored the Giants’ defensive line, now anchors media projects.
Photo by: DISNEY / ABC DOMESTIC TV
Last week, Nickelodeon announced that Strahan would host and serve as executive producer for a new sports awards show called “Kids’ Choice Sports 2014,” in which kids will vote on their favorite athletes and teams. Nickelodeon will air the show live from UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on July 17.

Strahan and entertainment executives Constance Schwartz and Mark Sudak formed the entertainment management, branding and production company SMAC Entertainment in 2011.

In an interview last week, Strahan and Schwartz outlined their plans with SMAC Entertainment. They would not reveal the name of the game show or the network that bought it, but said it was being co-produced by Scott St. John, executive producer of “Deal or No Deal,” and that the pilot was being shot in May.

“It’s physical and cerebral,” Schwartz said of the show. “So there will be physical stunts, and the stunts are based on questions you answer.”

Meanwhile, the script for the Gatti film is being written and will star Jerry Ferrara, who played “Turtle” in HBO’s “Entourage,” as the boxer.

Strahan and Schwartz hinted at other projects to announce soon.

The two agreed that Strahan’s high visibility has increased the opportunities for SMAC Entertainment, especially his role as co-host of the nationally syndicated morning talk show “Live with Kelly and Michael.” In that role, Strahan has been exposed to a different audience — women — and has been seen in a different light.

“Getting that show has opened up a lot of doors, because people see you in a different way,” Strahan said. “You are not just seen as the athlete anymore, or the jock who talks about football. You are seen more as the Everyday Man: someone people see everyday in the morning, and they accept your personality as how you are and who you are. It makes people feel more comfortable.”

Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami reached out to Strahan and to SMAC Entertainment to discuss the awards show concept. Nickelodeon has broadcast the “Kids’ Choice Awards” entertainment awards show for 26 years and started researching whether to do a specific, sports-themed show.

“When we decided we were going to do it, Michael Strahan was the first person we thought of as host and an executive producer,” Zarghami said in an email. “He has kids, he knows kids, and has a great smile.”

Strahan, who is a father of four, was excited about creating a show that he hopes will become an annual event, as well as working with the “sports council” SMAC and Nickelodeon have assembled to help draw up categories for awards, nominees and presenters.

The list of notables who have agreed to serve as advisers on the show includes former great athletes, such as Cal Ripken Jr.; executives from the NFL and NBA; and prominent agents from rival sports agencies, including Excel Sports Management founder and President Jeff Schwartz, Creative Artists Agency sports broadcast agent Andy Elkin, WME senior vice president Jill Smoller and IMG Clients Group senior vice president Alan Zucker.

“I threatened them,” Strahan joked, when asked how he got the rival agents to work together.

Constance Schwartz said all the agents who were approached agreed immediately because they wanted to be part of it.

Jeff Schwartz, one of the agents who agreed to advise on the show, praised Strahan as someone who possesses an unusual combination of broad personal appeal and business intuition. “Likeable and approachable, he is at the intersection of sports and entertainment, allowing for a unique perspective and understanding of both worlds,” Schwartz said.

The projects add to a 2014 calendar for Strahan that features his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. He was selected for enshrinement earlier this year.

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