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Volume 24 No. 113

Law Politics

          The "order to fire" Marv Albert "came directly from"
     NBC President Robert Wright, according to Michael Starr of
     the N.Y. POST (N.Y. POST, 9/26).  The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's
     Stephen Battaglio writes, "Sources said NBC likely dropped
     the ax quickly on Albert because he lied to top executives
     about the incident" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 9/26). 
          REAX: Albert's attorney Roy Black asked if he was
     surprised by NBC's move: "I don't know if I'm so surprised
     ... as much as I am by the way they did it.  They give the
     guy 15 minutes after this and immediately fire him.  You
     would think someone who had worked for the network for 23
     years ... would spend more than 15 minutes in making a
     decision like that" ("Larry King Live," 9/25).  Albert's
     attorney Peter Greenspun: "We're surprised they didn't wait
     until the time of sentencing" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/26).  In
     N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that NBC's statement "bespoke
     betrayal," and while NBC and MSG "adored" him, if they "were
     inclined to keep him, advertisers and affiliates would
     surely lobby to have him fired" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/26).  In
     N.Y., Harvey Araton: "Some will ask why Albert isn't moral
     enough to call [NBA] games played by the likes of Iverson
     and Rodman, et al.  The answer is this: He is replaceable. 
     He is a messenger. ... A messenger who embodies the wrong
     message is one problem that [NBA Commissioner David] Stern
     can make disappear" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/26).  NEWSDAY's Gay &
     Zipay report there was "widespread speculation that Albert
     ... would somehow salvage his career" at NBC.  While NBC
     execs "agonized over the decision .. it was equally obvious
     that NBC was in an increasingly untenable position for other
     reasons.  Foremost, there is a major question over whether
     Albert's continued employment might have affected NBC's
     renegotiations with the NBA and NFL for future telecasts"
     (NEWSDAY, 9/26).  Newark Star-Ledger's Dan Wasserman:
     "[L]et's face it: he pleads guilty to assaulting a woman in
     a hotel room during kinky sex.  This is not the type of
     [person] that a family-oriented network and company such as
     NBC and [GE] want to have on their payroll" ("Sports Inc.,"
     9/25).  In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes Albert "had to go"
     but "what is surprising is the swiftness with which the end
     came" (SUN, 9/26).  In L.A., Larry Stewart: "NBC did what it
     had to do ... swiftly and cleanly" (L.A. TIMES, 9/26).  Also
     in L.A., Tom Hoffarth calls NBC's "swift decision ...
     inevitable, but ... bogus" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/26).  Bergen
     Record media writer Mike Celizic: "The guy is radioactive,
     get rid of him ... I don't think they want anything to do
     with him, and I don't blame them."  The N.Y. Post's Wallace
     Matthews: "I'm not at all surprised by it, but I have to say
     I'm a little disappointed.  You would think that after 20
     years of service, NBC would owe Marv Albert at least the
     courtesy of allowing him to land in New York and break the
     news to him before they broke it to everybody else" (MSNBC,
     9/25).  In DC, Michael Wilbon: "I don't blame NBC for not
     wanting to put up with further headaches over this mess. ...
     But I also won't blame any entity from wanting to hire
     Albert a year from now if he has taken the necessary steps
     to deal with his behavioral problems" (WASHINGTON POST,
     9/26).  NEWSDAY's Shaun Powell writes under the header, "Why
     Was Marv Fired Over A Misdemeanor?"  Powell: "None of NBC's
     games had Albert as the main feature, and yet by firing him,
     he essentially was treated as one" (NEWSDAY, 9/26).
          

          Marv Albert "put an end to his lurid sexual assault
     trial but lost his job when he pleaded guilty yesterday to
     assault and battery for biting a 42-year-old Vienna, [VA],
     women, accepting a plea bargain in which prosecutors dropped
     a more serious charge of forcible sodomy," according to
     Brooke Masters of the WASHINGTON POST.  Albert faces up to
     12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine when he is sentenced
     October 24 (WASHINGTON POST, 9/26).  
          ALBERT STATEMENT: Albert gave a statement after the
     trial: "I'd first like to say thanks so much for the
     wonderful work on the part of Roy Black and Peter Greenspun
     and their entire staff.  From my point of view, I just felt
     I had to end this ordeal for myself, my wonderful family, my
     fiance Heather, my friends and supporters.  I'd like to
     thank NBC Sports and MSG Network people for standing behind
     me through all of this.  I'd love to be able to answer
     questions right now, but it's been a trying day, and I want
     to spend the rest of the day with my family" (THE DAILY). 
          NETWORK STATEMENTS: NBC's statement on Albert: "This
     past May, when charges against Marv Albert become public,
     Mr. Albert asserted his innocence and assured NBC senior
     management that there was no basis whatsoever to the
     charges.  Today, given Marv Albert's plea of guilty of
     assault and battery, NBC terminated its relationship with
     Mr. Albert" (NBC).  MSG's release: "Madison Square Garden
     accepted Marv Albert's resignation. ... The Garden, MSG
     Network, the Knicks and Rangers thank him for 30 years of
     dedicated service.  As he stated himself, he must now set
     out to reconstruct his personal and professional life.  We
     wish him well in those efforts.  Madison Square Garden will
     have no further comment at this time" (MSG).  Albert, in a
     second statement: "I have resigned from MSG and have been
     let go from NBC.  I fully understand the position in which
     the networks found themselves due to my very painful
     situation.  In the interest of my family, my friends and my
     many supporters, I step aside with deep humility and seek to
     reconstruct my personal and professional life" (Mult.).  
          NEW YORK COVERAGE: All three New York City O&Os led
     with the Albert plea during their early evening reports.
     WNBC's Michael Hill said that the trial "featured an
     assassination of his reputation" (WNBC, 9/25).  WCBS' John
     Slattery: "The whole world has seen this man air his dirty
     laundry."  WCBS' Pablo Guzman: "People in the business,
     agents in the business, have said that as far as network
     reporting, that's probably over for Albert except perhaps
     for the Fox network, that he may be going back to where his
     career began, in local news" (WCBS, 9/25).
          TV COVERAGE: "NBC Nightly News" reported on Albert 10
     minutes into the program, following its first commercial
     break.  The report consisted of the details of the plea and
     reported Albert's firing from NBC Sports (NBC, 9/25).  "CBS
     Evening News" with Dan Rather, which had not reported on
     Albert all week, covered the plea 11 minutes into its
     program, leading with the story following the first
     commercial break.  Rather: "A heavily publicized criminal
     court trial in Virginia ended today.  Some journalists,
     including some closely associated with this broadcast,
     preferred not to cover any part of this case" (CBS, 9/25). 
     ABC's "World News Tonight" reported on Albert eight minutes
     into its telecast. ABC's Jeff Greenfield examined cable TV's
     coverage of the trial.  Greenfield: "Once a story has
     achieved enough media liftoff, it becomes an almost constant
     presence on these new news networks" (ABC, 9/25).
          ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS: "Extra" and CNN's "Showbiz Today"
     led with the Albert story.  "Access Hollywood" and
     "Entertainment Tonight" did not cover the story.  CNN's
     "Larry King Live" featured the Albert plea.  Among the
     guests were attorney Roy Black, agent Leigh Steinberg and
     N.Y. Times sports columnist Ira Berkow (THE DAILY). 
          SPORTS SHOWS: ESPN's 6:30pm ET "SportsCenter" led with
     Albert and reported on him again midway through the hour-
     long broadcast.  ESPN's Bob Ley reported that the NBA "had
     no comment on either Albert's guilty plea or his firing by
     NBC."  The 11:00pm ET "SportsCenter" reported on Albert six
     minutes in, leading with the Shawn Kemp trade and the Astros
     clinching the NL Central ("SportsCenter," 9/25).  CNN/SI
     reported on the Albert plea following stories on the Kemp
     trade and Greg Ostertag re-signing with the Jazz.  CNN/SI's
     Bob Lorenz called the plea "a sudden and surprising end" to
     the trial.  CNN/SI's Nick Charles: "Albert's personal
     persona and professional career both took major hits on the
     richter scale."  SI legal analyst Lester Munson: "If he had
     been sentenced today, I think he probably would have done
     some time in jail. ... I think he may still face, however,
     some short time in jail" ("CNN/SI," CNN, 9/25).  

          Marv Albert's future is widely debated this morning,
     with many analysts commenting on whether he will ever be
     able to return to sportscasting.  Albert's spokesperson,
     Howard Rubenstein, said that Albert, who made "about" $2M a
     year, "had no job offers" after his relationship with MSG
     and NBC ended yesterday (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/26).  
          WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: Jeffrey Pollack, Publisher of THE
     SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY: "If there's the proper amount of
     contrition and some length of a sabbatical, there is the
     possibility of a return to sportscasting."  Advantage Int'l
     Senior VP Tom George: "Albert is who he is because of his
     platform with the Knicks.  We don't have to have this guy"
     (WASHINGTON POST, 9/26).  In N.Y., Mike Lupica: "He can get
     a second chance as a broadcaster. .. It would be a shame if
     Albert didn't" (DAILY NEWS, 9/26).  IF Enterprises President
     Steve Herz: "While I wouldn't expect him to get to the level
     where he was yesterday, this country loves to build up
     heroes, destroy them, and bring them back.  Look no further
     than Richard Nixon" (DAILY NEWS, 9/26).  The N.Y. Times' Ira
     Berkow: "There is an aspect of forgiveness, especially in
     the areas of entertainment, and Marv is an entertainer"
     ("LKL," 9/25).  In Chicago, Jim O'Donnell: "[T]he feeling
     persists that Albert will somehow, somewhere rise again to
     an intermediate broadcast level, most likely operating out
     of his New York base" (SUN-TIMES, 9/26).  Albert has
     endorsement deals with Nissan and Acclaim Videos.  Burns
     Sports Celebrity President Bob Williams: "He's dead in the
     eye of advertisers.  He's certainly dead in terms of
     endorsements" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 9/26).  Acclaim has not
     decided whether to release, as planned, an NFL Quarterback
     Club video that features Albert's voice (NEWSDAY, 9/26).  
          THE PEOPLE SPEAK: An ESPN SportsZone poll asked,
     "Should Marv Albert be allowed to broadcast sporting 
     events."  As of this morning, with 14,987 total votes cast,
     52% said he should; 48% said he shouldn't (ESPN).