FOX LOOKS FOR RATINGS BOOST FROM JIMMY JOHNSON "CIRCUS"
With Jimmy Johnson's supposed "big announcement" on Sunday
on whether he will stay in TV or return to coaching next year,"
Larry Stewart of the L.A. TIMES writes, "Sports television has
given new meaning to the term checkbook journalism. ... Fox is in
a ratings war with NBC, and the network knows it will win big on
Sunday, beating its rival at its own game with a bought-and-paid-
for 'exclusive.'" "Fox NFL Sunday" producer Scott Ackerson, on
last week's skit in which Johnson wore Eagles and Buccaneers
hats: "We were spoofing oursleves" (L.A. TIMES, 12/16). But one
NFL GM was not amused: "It stinks. It's totally non-
professional. This league is not a circus." In Washington,
Leonard Shapiro writes, "Journalistically, Johnson's decision
ought to be the lead story in Sunday's pregame show. ... Then
again, Fox Sports has never claimed to have anything to do with
journalism" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/16). On HBO's "Inside the NFL,"
Johnson addressed the hype he helped create: "I'm enjoying what
I'm doing and if I decide to stay in television, that's what I'll
do. ... If I decided to go back into coaching, I'd like to have a
team prior to the Super Bowl" (HBO, 12/15). HBO's Nick
Buoniconti: "Jimmy's having his cake and eating it, too. He'll
get a new deal from Fox for $1 million (up from $650,000). I'm
sure HBO ($250,000) will up the ante, too." Fox Sports
spokesperson Vince Wladika denied the million dollar figure:
"It's not that high" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 12/16).