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Volume 24 No. 156
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Names In The News

ESPNW's Elizabeth Merrill profiled Saints co-Owner & Exec VP RITA BENSON LEBLANC, granddaughter of Saints Owner TOM BENSON, and noted what is "different from most NFL execs, is her transparency." LeBlanc can "somehow fit in anywhere, in a boardroom full of execs, at an art exhibit, or on the streets with fans. Everything she does, six years since Katrina, is still geared toward promoting New Orleans." LeBlanc serves as Chair of the NFL's Employee Benefits Committee in addition to her job overseeing the Saints' "sales and marketing, community affairs, and youth program initiatives, plus game-day entertainment and stadium operations." She was also a "key player in New Orleans' successful bid" for the '13 Super Bowl. Merrill noted it is "known throughout the franchise that LeBlanc will be her grandfather's successor" (, 1/5). 

HALL CONTROVERSY: In N.Y., Andrew Keh notes a "seemingly ordinary" portrait of former Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter BILL CONLIN has "created a singularly awkward situation for the Baseball Hall of Fame." The "reactions of some visitors underline the uncomfortable situation the Hall's museum faces" since four people last month came forward and accused Conlin of sexual molestation. In the aftermath of the allegations, "questions were raised about whether the Baseball Writers' Association of America, which voted Conlin the 2011 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink award, might strip him of the honor," or whether the Hall of Fame would "remove his display from its walls." But Conlin is "not scheduled to lose his distinctive place at the Hall until he is replaced by" '12 honoree, the Toronto Sun's BOB ELLIOTT (N.Y. TIMES, 1/6).

MAKING MOVES: In N.Y., Keith Kelly reports Penguins co-Owner RON BURKLE and Basketball HOFer MAGIC JOHNSON "have teamed up to buy BlackBook Media and its software arm, Access Network Co." The company will be "combined with Vibe Media, which the two teamed up to buy last year" (N.Y. POST, 1/6). In L.A., Pham & Fritz report Burkle Thursday also purchased Artist Group International, a N.Y. agency that books concerts. Burkle "concurrently invested in the movie business by taking a stake in independent movie studio Relativity Media" (L.A. TIMES, 1/6).

ACTION SCENE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL looks at the efforts to turn author LEE CHILD's popular character JACK REACHER and best-selling book “ONE SHOT” into a movie. Child at one time wanted HOWIE LONG for the lead role, which is now being played by TOM CRUISE. The “movie will begin with a sniper scanning a crowd at Pittsburgh's PNC Park ... before focusing on a group walking down a nearby path” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/5).

: TNT analyst CHARLES BARKLEY was recently spotted dining with NBC Sports Group Chair MARK LAZARUS and Senior VP/Communications GREG HUGHES at Del Frisco’s in N.Y., and some "started speculating that the Peacock execs were courting the TNT analyst for their rebranded NBC Sports Network." But sources said that Barkley met with Lazarus and Hughes "for more friendly reasons." One source said, "Mark and Greg and Charles have all been friends for years" (N.Y. POST, 1/6)....MLB umpire ANGEL HERNANDEZ on Saturday will host his second Miracle Golf Tournament at Binks Forest Golf Club in Wellington, Fla. All proceeds from the tournament will go to the Miracle League, a baseball league for young people with disabilities (PALM BEACH POST, 1/6)....Univ. of Michigan football coach BRADY HOKE will get a $125,000 bonus for his team's Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech on Tuesday. Hoke's contract "called for him to get $75,000 for a game such as the Sugar Bowl," but UM AD DAVE BRANDON last month said that Hoke "would get $125,000 because the game is a 'higher-end' bowl" (, 1/4)....The Milwaukee Business Journal named Brewers Senior Dir of Business Operations TEDDY WERNER to its "Forty Under 40" list for '12 (, 1/5)....ESPN reporter ERIN ANDREWS will replace ESPN's SCOTT VAN PELT as the emcee of the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards recognition dinner at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel on Feb. 2 (, 1/5)....The Neville Brothers will perform Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and CEE-LO GREEN will perform Sunday in advance of Monday night's BCS National Championship game. Admission to the concerts is free (, 1/5)....Former President BILL CLINTON attended Thursday's Panthers-Rangers game at MSG (, 1/5).