THE UBIQUITOUS MARV: "20/20" APPEARANCE KICKS OFF MEDIA WEEK
ABC's Barbara Walters interviewed Marv Albert Friday on
"20/20," marking the former sportscaster's first interview
since pleading guilty to assault charges in Virginia.
Albert, when asked if he has any "assurances" from either
NBC or MSG that he can resume his broadcasting career: "No.
I received a number of offers, actually, hundreds of offers.
... But I think it's going to be a while. I feel I have to
go through the counseling that I have begun. I would like
to sit it out for a little while." Albert, on public
perception of him: "No matter what I say here or elsewhere,
I know that this is a stigma that will be out there. I have
to be able to deal with that. And I'm a big boy. And I
have to deal with it" ("20/20," ABC, 11/7). Albert also
spoke to New York TV columnists over the weekend. Asked by
Phil Mushnick about his relationship with NBC and MSG after
"lying, for telling your bosses you were totally innocent,"
Albert said, "They felt betrayed, and I understand that. I
hope to be able to explain it all to them" (N.Y. POST,
11/9). Albert told NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay he hopes to return
to sportscasting by next fall. He also defended the timing
of his appearances: "Should I just sit back and accept what
have been lies?" (Steve Zipay, NEWSDAY, 11/9).
REAX: On "The Sports Reporters," Mike Lupica's "Parting
Shot" was on Albert: "Telling your side of things once is
enough, more than enough if you watched some of Barbara
Walters. But you do as many shows as Albert is doing this
week, and you start to look as if you're running for
something, or away from something -- maybe the truth" (ESPN,
11/9). Lupica, from his N.Y. DAILY NEWS column: "He wants
to work and has a right to work. ... More than anything,
Albert tells people he wants to work his way back to Madison
Square Garden. This is not the way." Lupica added, "I keep
hearing Marv is about to get a big offer from CBS and WFAN"
(N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/9). In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes
that Friday night "before a national ABC audience," Albert
"became a cliche," and added that he spoke "arrogantly,
disingenously." Jacobs: "[F]or Albert to accept a plea
bargain and immediately launch a prime-time debate defense
is disgusting" (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/10).
MANY VIEWERS HAVE 20/20 VISION: Friday's "20/20" earned
a 13.5/23 overnight rating, and "if the figures hold when
national ratings are released Monday, it will be the most
watched '20/20' of the season," according to Stephen
Battaglio of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. But Battaglio adds
that ABC News "was likely anticipating a bigger audience."
On Friday, Walters anchored the show alone, as co-anchor
Hugh Downs "decided to sit out the program" after stating
earlier that the show would never do an Albert interview,
"claiming it was too tawdry for the program." Downs issued
a statement later saying, "As I had gone on the record with
my reservations about covering Marv Albert's story I felt it
would be hypocritical of me to co-anchor Friday's broadcast.
Having watched the interview however, I thought Barbara did
an outstanding job" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 11/10).