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Volume 24 No. 157

People and Pop Culture

"LOMBARDI" producers TONY PONTURO and FRAN KIRMSER Thursday announced plans for "MAGIC/BIRD," their next Broadway collaboration. The play will be produced in association with the NBA, and MAGIC JOHNSON and LARRY BIRD will participate in the creative process. Written by "Lombardi" playwright ERIC SIMONSON, "Magic/Bird" chronicles the lives of the two Basketball HOFers and their influence on both sports and pop culture (THE DAILY). DAILY VARIETY's Gordon Cox noted Kirmser "came up with the idea for 'Magic/Bird' as she and Ponturo began to think about a legit follow-up to 'Lombardi' that would take sports as its subject." The play's association with the NBA "looks likely to mirror the arrangement the producers made with the NFL for 'Lombardi.'" The NBA is "expected to provide access to historical footage and photographs, as well as promotional support targeting the hoops fans." Cox noted "Magic/Bird" is not related to "WHEN THE GAME WAS OURS," ESPN columnist JACKIE MACMULLAN's '09 book about the Basketball HOFers, or to last year's HBO documentary "MAGIC AND BIRD: A COURTSHIP OF RIVALS" (, 2/17). The producers are targeting a spring '12 opening for "Magic/Bird." Ponturo said, "One of the things we learned from 'Lombardi' is that if you bring content to Broadway that will interest the consumer, maybe people who don’t go to Broadway will come" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/18).

Ever wonder how executives in sports business spend their weekends? THE DAILY this week continues "What's Up For The Weekend," providing readers with an inside look at people in our industry. This week, we catch up with MLS/SUM Exec VP/Int'l Business & Special Events WILL WILSON, who chatted with Staff Writer Theresa Manahan.

Q: What are your plans for this weekend?
Wilson: Taking advantage of the long weekend to spend time with my family.

Q: What are you really looking forward to? Anything special planned?
Wilson: Since it is basketball season, I will be coaching my oldest son’s team and we are planning on heading to Washington, DC, to visit the Smithsonian.

Q: What do you like to watch and read on the weekend?
Wilson: Either reading to my kids or reading whatever non-fiction book of the moment. Right now I’m reading “Hero” about Lawrence of Arabia. Talk about an impressive guy. Also very illuminating about the Middle East.

Q: What workout routines or activities do you like to do on the weekend?
Wilson: I am often training for a race of some kind. Next up is the Indianapolis Half Marathon in May. I’m usually out the door running by 6:00am, and back in time to make pancakes for the kids.

Q: The thing that our readers would be most surprised you love to do on your weekends is…
Wilson: My wife is from Perth, Australia, and many a Sunday morning is spent Skyping friends and family across the Pacific.

Q: Best weekend ever?
Wilson: Any quick trip to go skiing. My family has a house in Summit County, Colorado, and we spend as much time there as possible.

Q: Guilty weekend pleasure?
Wilson: Too much coffee.

Q: Do you have any routine weekend chores?
Wilson: The usual: Dishes, laundry, admin, yard work when it’s warm.

Q: Must see weekend game?
Wilson: All sports -- with an emphasis on soccer and college football. My nephew is Stanford’s quarterback (ANDREW LUCK) so I follow the Cardinal closely during the football season, along with MLS and international soccer year round.

THE DAILY each Friday offers our take on the performances over the past week of people and entities in sports business. Here are this week's newsmakers:

WIN: TIME WARNER CABLE -- The L.A. area's largest cable operator shakes up the region's sports TV landscape by luring the Lakers away from Fox Sports with a 20-year deal estimated to be worth $3B. TWC will create two RSNs -- one in English and one in Spanish -- that will begin broadcasting the storied franchise's games next year. The agreement gives TWC an attractive property with which to lure new customers, not to mention a significant bargaining chip in distribution negotiations. TWC execs soon will be on the prowl for additional sports properties to round out the RSNs, and with the Dodgers' TV rights deal expiring in '13, the company could be a major bidder for another one of the area's beloved teams.

LOSE: JOHN JUNKER -- The longtime Fiesta Bowl President & CEO is put on administrative leave this week while an internal investigation looks into allegations he was involved in improper political-campaign contributions and questionable expense reimbursements. Bowl officials in the past have steadfastly stood behind Junker, and his leave of absence may indicate the ongoing investigation has turned up some improprieties. It is still unclear if Junker could return to his position in the future if he is vindicated.

DRAW: LPGA -- There's no question that the LPGA has plenty of ground to make up when it comes to public attention. The women's golf tour tees off its '11 season on the other side of the world with tournaments in Thailand and Singapore, doing little to resurrect fan support in the U.S. Nonetheless, MICHAEL WHAN is taking an aggressive approach to find new supporters by rolling out the LPGA's first ad campaign in four years. The tour still needs a star -- preferably one named MICHELLE WIE -- to step up and dominate, but the commissioner deserves applause for his proactive approach to marketing the sport.

Hulman & Co. Thursday announced an expansion of its BOD that includes the addition of former IMS Corp. CEO TONY GEORGE. The other three members added to the BOD are LDI Ltd. Chair ANDRE LACY, former Anthem Exec VP & CFO MICHAEL SMITH and hhgregg Exec Chair & Dir JERRY THROGMARTIN (IMS). It is believed that Hulman & Co. Chair and IMS Chair MARI HULMAN GEORGE "made the call to bring her son back into the fold." It does not appear that Tony George's "re-emergence will immediately affect the day-to-day operation of IndyCar or the Indianapolis 500, although he was known to have made an unsuccessful attempt last summer to purchase the series he started with a couple of investors" (, 2/17).

EXECS: The Women's Sports Foundation has named boxer LAILA ALI its new President, succeeding JESSICA MENDOZA. Ali, who joined the WSF Board of Trustees in '07, will serve a two-year term as an official spokesperson (WSF)....George Washington Univ. AD JACK KVANCZ has announced his retirement after 17 years in the position, effective this summer (Atlantic 10)....Former Butler Univ. football coach BILL LYNCH will return to the school on March 1 as Associate AD (Butler)....The Greater Columbus Sports Commission has promoted JEFFREY JOHN to Senior Sales Manager and ASHLEE MCQUILLAN to Special Projects Manager (GCSC)....Learfield Sports has named BRAD POE GM and SLADE LARSCHEID Account Exec for its new Jackrabbit Sports Properties, supporting South Dakota State Univ.'s athletics. Poe had been GM for Learfield's San Jose State property, while Larscheid was Dir of Development for Northern Illinois Univ. (Learfield)....ESPN's DESMOND HOWARD has joined USA Football's BOD (THE DAILY)....Foot Locker has added Marmol & Associates President GUILLERMO MARMOL and Lee Equity Partners Senior Advisor ALLEN QUESTROM to its BOD (Foot Locker).

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Fox Sports' charitable initiative, Fox Sports Supports, is partnering with four new organizations for its '11 campaign, kicking off this weekend at the Daytona 500 with NASCAR on Fox' partnership with The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps. Fox also has partnered with Stand Up to Cancer for the MLB season, the Armed Forces Foundation for the '11 NFL season and the About Dream Foundation for the Big Ten and Pac-12 football conference championship games and the AT&T Cotton Bowl (Fox Sports).

FULL DISCLOSURE: In Phoenix, Craig Harris reports the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl has disclosed to the IRS that it is "reviewing expenditures related to political campaigns and that 'one or more' key officials may have received excessive benefits." The disclosures, revealed in the bowl's '09-10 federal tax returns filed Tuesday, "also show that the organization's top two executives received substantial raises, and a pair of major contractors were paid significantly more than the previous year." Earlier this week, the bowl placed President & CEO JOHN JUNKER on "paid administrative leave while an independent internal investigation examines allegations he was involved in improper political-campaign contributions and questionable expense reimbursements" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/18).

FIRST A LOGO, NOW A STATUE: The Lakers Thursday unveiled a new statue for JERRY WEST at Staples Center. The 14-foot statue, built by JULIE ROTBLATT AMRANY and OMRI AMRANY, joins similar ones at Staples Center's Star Plaza for MAGIC JOHNSON, WAYNE GRETZKY, CHICK HEARN and OSCAR DE LA HOYA (L.A. TIMES, 2/18). The statue features West dribbling, though he said that he "might have chosen to be pictured in the middle of his famously smooth jump shot" (, 2/18).

SAVVY INVESTMENT: In St. Paul, Ray Richardson profiles T'Wolves F ANTHONY TOLLIVER, who claims that he has "become so versed on money matters that he can dissect stock market listings and determine which ventures are worth buying or selling." Two years ago, Tolliver started Say You Can LLC, a real estate business, and last year "unveiled Ad Solutions Group, a direct advertising company" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/18).

NAMES: Detroit Free Press columnist and author MITCH ALBOM on Thursday "introduced the cast and director" of the forthcoming play "ERNIE," his tribute to late Tigers announcer ERNIE HARWELL. Albom said that he wrote the play "with hopes the story would resonate deeply with ... baseball-loving fans" in Michigan (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/18)....Milwaukee-based Pak's Jewelers has sued JOE JOHNSON, claiming that the Hawks G last year "ordered nearly $75,000 worth of custom jewelry" from the store and "never paid any" of the balance (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/18)....Yankees 3B ALEX RODRIGUEZ has purchased a 3,600-square-foot apartment in The Rushmore building on Manhattan's Upper West Side (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/18)....Celtics President RICH GOTHAM is "training for his first complete triathlon" on July 23 (BOSTON HERALD, 2/18).

IN MEMORY: Former Cavaliers GM & coach DON DELANEY passed away Wednesday at the age of 75 (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/18).