HBO INTRODUCES ITS NEWEST LEGEND-TURNED-ANALYST
Time Warner Sports CEO Seth Abraham and HBO Sports Senior VP
& Exec Producer Ross Greenburg were joined by announcer Jim
Lampley in introducing Martina Navratilova as the newest member
of the network's Wimbledon broadcast team. Under the one-year
deal, Navratilova will participate as a part-time analyst for
both men's and women's matches, while also participating as a
doubles player. Abraham cited Navratilova's "passion" for and
"intimate knowledge" of the tournament as the key reason for
seeking her out. Greenburg said he believes viewers will find
Navratilova to be as "candid, blunt, provocative and
entertaining" as Billie Jean King, whom Navratilova will join as
an expert analyst. Navratilova said the deal with HBO is not
exclusive and would allow her to sign on with another network.
She left open the possibility of working for CBS during the U.S.
Open, but added, "I want to see how this goes" (THE DAILY). CBS
Sports Senior VP Rick Gentile: "Yes, we've had some discussion.
There's interest, but we haven't identified any role for her"
(Steve Zipay, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 5/23).
REACTION: In New York, Richard Sandomir compares it to
NBC's signing of Joe Montana. "HBO made the better hire.
Navratilova has everything Montana needs to start a TV career
fast: a reputation for great bluntness and candor" (N.Y. TIMES,
5/23). Steve Zipay writes, "When it comes to new faces in sports
broadcasting, Martina Navratilova promises she won't be like any
ordinary Joe. Or even like an extraordinary Joe -- Joe Montana"
(NEWSDAY, 5/23). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke: "In this TV age when
fresh, candid analysts are rare, HBO might have scored an ace
Monday" (USA TODAY, 5/23). In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes that
HBO "is expecting Navratilova to be as blunt and outspoken in the
booth as she was after matches" (Baltimore SUN, 5/23).
OTHER BON MOTS FOR HBO: In Boston, Ron Borges writes that
Abraham "deserves credit" for signing Oscar De La Hoya to a six-
year deal before his win a few months ago over John John Molina.
"That leaves HBO well established with one of the sport's
fastest-rising stars" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/23).