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Volume 24 No. 112

Sports Media

          Recently fired Pistons coach Doug Collins signed a deal
     with NBC Sports, and will join the network's No. 1 broadcast
     team of Bob Costas and Isiah Thomas beginning March 29,
     according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES.  NBC Sports
     President Dick Ebersol "denied" that Collins' deal, which is
     worth "about" $750,000 a year and runs through 2002, "was a
     way to compensate for Thomas's lack of experience."  Collins
     will also work basketball for NBC at the 2000 Olympics (N.Y.
     TIMES, 3/18).  Collins will work four regular-season games
     and the playoffs for NBC (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 3/18). 
     Collins said that he asked his agent to contact Ebersol
     after his negotiations to return to TNT "hit a snag."  He
     had worked as a TNT analyst for six years (N.Y. DAILY NEWS,
     3/18).  Bill Walton, who has joined the No.1 team for the
     NBA Finals in recent years, "will instead work" on "NBA
     Showtime" during the Finals (L.A. TIMES, 3/18).   
          NAME GAME: WNBC-TV "officially confirmed" that WFAN-
     AM's Mike Francesa will team with Dave Jennings to host
     "GameDay New York," an NFL pregame show to air Sunday
     mornings next season (N.Y. POST, 3/18)....Lesley Visser is
     replacing Lynn Swann as sideline reporter on ABC's "Monday
     Night Football" (USA TODAY, 3/18)....49ers LB Gary Plummer
     will retire from the team and become the color analyst on
     KGO-AM broadcasts of 49ers games (S.J. MERCURY-NEWS, 3/18).

          TV: ESPN Star Sports has signed an agreement with the
     Augusta National Country Club to broadcast the '98 Masters
     Tournament in Asia.  The deal gives ESPN Star Sports
     exclusive cable and satellite rights across the region for
     the tournament (AD AGE DAILY, 3/18)....Kobe Bryant will make
     his "acting debut" on an episode of UPN's "Moesha," airing
     later this month.  Bryant plays a high school basketball
     star "who's worried about taking his SAT" (Phil Rosenthal,
     CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/18)....In Houston, a news conference
     has been scheduled for this afternoon, "apparently to
     announce" that KNWS-51 has acquired the rights to broadcast
     66 Astros road games this season (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/18).
          PUBLISHING: In N.Y., Michael Shain reports that Mike
     Tyson is "quietly looking for a publisher for his tell-all
     biography," and is seeking a "big-money" deal.  One editor:
     "[T]hey made it pretty clear that they're looking for seven
     figures" (N.Y. POST, 3/18). ...Ballantine Publishing
     released John Feinstein's new book, "The First Coming --
     Tiger Woods: Master or Martyr?"  The book explores Woods'
     first year on the PGA Tour (THE DAILY).
          WEB NOTES: NHL Interactive CyberEnterprises (ICE), a
     joint venture between the NHL and IBM, launched, a new Web site designed and created for kids. 
     The site combines interactive and educational games with
     hockey features, contests and giveaways and access to the store (NHL ICE)...CBS Cable's generated
     2.3 million hits on February 22 for its coverage of the
     Goodwrench Service Plus 400 Winston Cup race (CABLE WORLD,
     3/9 issue) has launched the Bud Ice/Kelly Cup
     Challenge.  The contest, which allows fans to win prizes for
     choosing the winner of the ECHL championship, will run
     through the second game of the Kelly Cup finals (ECHL).     

          Among the top eight management positions at ESPN
     Magazine "there are no minorities," according to John
     Smallwood of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS.  In addition, of
     11 senior and associate editors, only one is African-
     American.  Smallwood writes that the magazine's "lack of
     minorities is probably no worse than most" national
     publications, "but that doesn't make it OK."  More
     Smallwood: "ESPN Magazine might take a new-age approach to
     sports coverage, but it still adheres to the same plantation
     mentality that has been the backbone of all sports-related
     industry: It's OK for minorities to make news, but when it
     comes to disseminating that information, it's back to the
     old-boys network" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/18).
          GENERATION NEXT? With nine hours of "SportsCenter,"
     ESPN's "most notable identity," shown daily, the show is
     "nearly impossible to avoid," according to Charles Pierce of
     ESQUIRE.  "SportsCenter" will air its 20,000th original
     broadcast in May, and Pierce writes that with the departure
     of personalities like Keith Olbermann, and the arrival of
     younger anchors such as Kenny Mayne and Stuart Scott, for
     the first time, ESPN is "hiring people who grew up on the
     network."  The challenge now is to "maintain [its] position
     in the field without sacrificing the renegade charm that
     made [it] popular in the first place."  Pierce notes that
     Scott is the first "SportsCenter" anchor "to use a
     distinctly African-American idiom," and as a result has been
     the target of "some criticism ... both within ESPN and
     without."  Scott, on his use of African-American slang: "I'm
     doing it purposefully to prove that you can be diverse and
     do this job."  Pierce: "If SportsCenter is to survive its
     own success, it cannot ossify itself the way the networks
     did.  It must survive its own children, and that means the
     sensibilities of Dave Letterman and of P-Funk must coexist"
     (Charles Pierce, ESQUIRE, 4/98 issue).

          The Red Sox have "killed" GM Dan Duquette's new TV show
     on WBZ, "Boston Red Sox with Dan Duquette," which was
     supposed to begin airing in April on Sundays with WBZ sports
     anchor Bob Lobel as host, according to Joan Vennochi of the
     BOSTON GLOBE.  Duquette's publicist John Flynn had
     negotiated a three-year deal with WBZ that would have paid
     Duquette "a six-figure salary," but on Friday, Sox Exec VP
     John Buckley told WBZ GM Ed Goldman the deal was off. 
     Vennochi calls this "an intriguing turn of events," as the
     Sox "continue to display an odd resistance to even the most
     overtly friendly media contact."  Buckley could not be
     reached for comment, but Flynn and Goldman said he told them
     that the team was "concerned" about its contractual
     arrangement with Sox broadcast carrier WABU.  Flynn said
     Duquette was "very upset" and described the breakdown of
     talks with WBZ as a "control issue" with the team.  Flynn:
     "They get very paranoid.  It's ridiculous.  Their marketing
     and sales mentality is from somewhere in the 1940s."  Flynn
     said the team wants to pitch a Duquette show to WABU, but
     Duquette "doesn't want to do a show" on WABU.  Fallout from
     the nixed show "reveals a larger problem: a potential rift
     between Duquette ... and the top Sox brass, in the last
     season of Duquette's contract" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/18).