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
nhl4kids.com, 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
nhl.com store (NHL ICE)...CBS Cable's country.com 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)....echl.com 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).