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Volume 24 No. 156

People and Pop Culture

The 76ers have been “abandoned by fans in recent years, playing in one of the emptiest arenas in the NBA,” but new CEO ADAM ARON has “made it his mission to reconnect the team with its heritage, to create energy and excitement, to make it fun again,” according to Michael Vitez of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Friday's home opener was a "coming-out party" for Aron and the team's new ownership group. Aron Friday "was operating on 'nine levels of adrenaline,' and hadn't slept more than five hours a night in months." He worked “for months to reinvent and reinvigorate the pregame show.” He hired the Philadelphia Orchestra “to record a special version of the national anthem, which will play on the big screen every night.” He got “American Idol” finalist Ayla Brown “to sing the anthem live for every home game.” Aron after his appointment to the CEO post, read a book by former 76ers President PAT CROCE, who said that “Lesson 1 was listening to fans.” Aron now receives “300 tweets a day.” A “critical piece of the new experience would be to reconnect the team with its legends,” so Aaron during the team’s home opener invited JULIUS ERVING, MOSES MALONE, BOBBY JONES, EARL CURETON and ANDREW TONEY and “planned to introduce them at midcourt and also show highlight videos of them during timeouts” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/8).

MAN WITH A PLAN: In Philadelphia, Zach Berman wrote if fans “care the least bit about the Sixers, Aron wants to meet you.” Berman: “And if you don't, Aron especially wants to meet you. Why? Because he thinks he has the plan to get you interested in Philadelphia's basketball team.” Aron is from Philadelphia, as are “seven members of the ownership group, and seven others went to” the Univ. of Pennsylvania. Aron is “simply the most visible of the group, if not by name then certainly by designation, and from the beginning of the new owners' tenure, he was billed as the local guy.” Given how “conspicuous Aron has been, it's easy to forget that the managing owner is Joshua Harris.” Aron said, "I've known and worked closely with Josh for 15 years. He's a nice guy, he's smart, and he's used to winning. Absolutely everything that I'm doing is the result of constant dialogue with Josh Harris, to make sure the Sixers are living up to Josh's vision of being a world-class, cutting-edge franchise." 76ers Senior VP/Business Operations LARA PRICE said of Aron, "Listening to his customers is something he's had to do his entire career." She added, "I really think his marketing, branding expertise and his knowledge of consumers can help us" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/7).

TNT’s CHARLES BARKLEY “didn’t exactly bring his A-game” when he appeared in a “forgettable episode” of NBC’s “SNL" this weekend, according to Aly Semigran of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. The episode featured a spoof of TNT's "Inside the NBA," and "what should have been a slam dunk was a missed shot.” Viewers also had to “endure the painful Barkley-in-drag sketch.” Semigran: “There’s no excuse for the awkward and unfunny mess of having Barkley play a woman who has come out of the closet, much to the surprise of her friends and boyfriend.” He “redeemed himself in the Charles Barkley Post-Game Translator app sketch that followed.” Semigran wrote, “I happen to like Barkley, but to quote Sir Charles himself this episode was pretty darn turrible. His acting, as well as the writing fell flatter than a deflated basketball” (, 1/8).’s David Eckstein wrote “outside a few good sketches, it was a series of lost opportunities.” Among the good features of Barkley hosting the show was the monologue, which “Barkley killed while making reference to his gambling problems, weight problems and all his other foibles.” Eckstein also liked the "Inside the NBA" segment where Barkley played new co-host SHAQUILLE O'NEAL while KEENAN THOMPSON played Barkley. They “hit the nail on the head for the show's propensity for never actually talking about basketball.” In addition, Eckstein also liked the Translator App sketch. Eckstein: “Perfect. Sports personalities speak gibberish and this tool makes sense of all of it.” But Eckstein wrote the segment with Barkley in drag was “bad” and asked, “Is this the best they could come up with?” (, 1/8).

THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: Barkley opened the show with the traditional host monologue. He said, “This is my third trip hosting ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I bet none of y’all thought I’d do it three times. But that’s okay, I did. I bet SCOTTIE PIPPEN and now he owes me $75,000. ... Some of y'all might be looking up and saying, ‘Sir Charles is less gigantic.’ Thank you very much. As you might have heard I teamed up with Weight Watchers. I’ve lost 38 pounds … or as I like to think of it, one MUGGSY BOGUES. … Some of you might be saying, “Charles, isn’t Weight Watchers for ladies?’ But I tell them, ‘Shut up, MICHAEL JORDAN!’ Oh, and congrats on your engagement. That’s gonna go great, Mike." The first skit featuring Barkley was the "Inside The NBA” spoof, which revolved around the idea the co-hosts are constantly joking and goofing around. ERNIE JOHNSON, who was played by BILL HADER, said, “Settle down, you promised me this year you’d cool it with the hijinks and pranks and focus on basketball.” At that point, "Barkley" threw a piece of bologna at O’Neal. After announcing the Grizzles score, "Barkley" said he and former NBAer KARL MALONE were in Memphis and “we dared HAKEEM OLAJUWON to fight an alligator to the death and I lost 50 grand betting on the alligator.” O’Neal added, “Memphis is a good one. One time I was there I ate ribs.” "Barkley" said, “That’s it!? Shaq, that story was terrible. The only thing worse than that story is your neck beard. ... Shaq, what is going on with your stories? You are the most boring person I’ve ever met, and I know Ernie.” JAY PHAROAH played KENNY SMITH in the skit.

Barkley introduces fictional "Post-Game
Translator App" during "SNL" skit

OTHER SHOW HIGHLIGHTS: Barkley introduced the “Charles Barkley Post-Game Translator App” and said it was necessary because “so many post-game interviews are full of nonsense and they’re just boring.” The app will “help you cut through the BS.” A clip of Patriots coach BILL BELICHICK was aired saying, “Start fast finish strong. We’ve done some of both, some of neither.” Barkley’s translation, “I got three Super Bowl rings. You guys don’t know anything about football, but I got to talk to you.” The clip of Lakers G KOBE BRYANT saying, “I wanted to come out and play hard.” Barkley translated that as, “Listen, I’m gonna shoot it. If you pass it to me, I’m gonna shoot it. I ain’t passing that ball today.” Barkley also was the host of the show “White People Problems,” appeared as a regular guy watching sports with his friends with the flamboyant British “Lord Windemere,” a porn star called “Dong Corleone” aka “The Dongfather” who passed away, a soul singer named “Marvin ‘Gay’ Jackson” and a Mayan chief talking about the Mayan calendar which says the world will end December 21, 2012 ("SNL," NBC, 1/6).

MORE REVIEWS: The N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE’s Tara Ariano wrote the episode “did have a few great moments Barkley can be proud of.” Thompson “has been doing an impression of Barkley for several years, so having the real Barkley on the show gave producers a chance to put Thompson as Barkley” opposite Barkley playing O’Neal. The result is “hilarious even to someone who’s never watched a second of TV basketball analysis” (, 1/8).’s Will Brinson wrote “most of the skits, predictably, were hits but a couple were misses.” One of the hits was the Translator App, which was a “mock advertisement for an iPhone app that lets Barkley break down what coaches and players are saying after games” (, 1/8).’s Sage Stossel wrote Barkley was “versatile and funny, if sometimes a bit stiff” (, 1/8).’s Nancy Gay on her Twitter account wrote, “Charles Barkley is hilarious on SNL -- the translator app rules!” ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi wrote, “Just went to the App store.. On a waiting list for the Charles Barkley App.” Deadspin’s Timothy Burke wrote, “Kenan Thompson has the rhythm of Charles Barkley's jokes down perfectly. Can we get him on Inside the NBA as Fake Charles permanently?” The Dallas Morning News’ Evan Clark wrote, “Is it a pre-requisite that every male athlete who hosts SNL must appear in drag.”

OVERNIGHT RATINGS HIGH: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Philiana Ng reported NBC earned a 7.4 overnight Nielsen rating for Saturday's episode of "SNL," which also featured musical guest KELLY CLARKSON, "the highest mark since the episode hosted by JIM CARREY with musical guest The Black Keys" on Jan. 8, 2011. The start of the show was pushed back due to the Saints-Lions playoff game, and the overrun "may have boosted 'SNL'" as the show earned its best overnight among adults 18-49 since the May 21, 2011, season finale (, 1/8).

Turner Broadcasting has made several changes to its advertising sales division. TBS Ad Sales will be led by GREG D'ALBA in the newly created position of President of News and Turner Digital Ad Sales. MediaVest USA President of Investment & Activation and Agency Operations DONNA SPECIALE will join the company as Turner Entertainment & Animation Ad Sales President. Both D'Alba and Speciale will report to Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports DAVID LEVY. Also, MICHAEL SALERNO is being promoted to Exec VP/Strategic Planning & Operations and will add ad sales operations to his oversight of strategic planning for Turner's linear and digital nets and platforms. Turner Sports COO & Exec VP LENNY DANIELS will assume oversight of Turner Sports Ad Sales, and Turner Sports Ad Sales Exec VP JON DIAMENT will report directly to Daniels. Levy is President of Sales, Distribution and Sports for Tuner Broadcasting System. In this capacity he still leads the Turner Ad Sales Division (Turner).

EXECS: The MLB Cardinals named DAN KANTROVITZ Dir of Scouting and promoted MATT SLATER to Dir of Player Personnel. The team also promoted TONY FERREIRA to Baseball Operations Assistant/Player Development and JARED ODOM to Baseball Operations Assistant/Scouting. The club hired CESAR GERONIMO JR. as Int'l Scouting Cross Checker, ANGEL OVALLES as Dominican Republic Scouting Supervisor and LUIS MORALES as Baseball Operations Assistant/Int'l (Cardinals)....A Univ. of Wisconsin source said that the school is "unaware of any criminal charge being filed" against Senior Associate AD JOHN CHADIMA, who resigned Friday after an allegation of misconduct surfaced. Chadima "was in charge of athletic department capital projects and had responsibilities in the football program, men's and women's golf, and rowing" (, 1/8).

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In Toronto, Dave Feschuk notes recently retired Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO RICHARD PEDDIE is "planning on becoming [a] published author in the coming months." Peddie's "literary agent is expecting him to deliver a synopsis of his forthcoming book, an anecdotal memoir of his remarkable career, by Jan. 19." Peddie also has "been approached by universities that covet him as a lecturer, by corporate boards who'd gladly have him as a director." Peddie said, "I don't want to be a CEO again. I don't want the 24-7 grind. I'm really going to stop and not accept anything for a number of months and see what comes to me." Meanwhile, he said of his replacement, "I have endorsed [MLSE Exec VP & COO] TOM ANSELMI" (TORONTO STAR, 1/9). 

ROME THE TRACK:' Teresa Genaro noted syndicated radio show host JIM ROME and his wife JANET "first got involved in horse ownership" in '07, and the Romes' Jungle Racing LLC "now owns 14 horses, wholly or in partnership." Some are "yearlings, getting ready to start training; some are racing; some are retired." Rome last week "got his first graded stakes win as an owner when his 4-year-old filly," Mizdirection, won the Grade 3 Monrovia Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Rome said, "I've had a lot of really good things happen to me in business and in life, but nothing has ever felt as good as that (win) felt in a professional sense" (, 1/6).

CASE DISMISSED: In London, Ashling O'Connor reported FIFA on Friday dismissed a claim by former VP JACK WARNER "that he was rewarded for supporting SEPP BLATTER's presidential campaigns with World Cup television contracts." Warner said last week that he "was awarded the rights for seven World Cups for a nominal fee." For the '98 tournament in France, Warner, "the Trinidad & Tobago Minister for Works and Infrastructure, said that FIFA sold the rights to him for $1" (LONDON TIMES, 1/7).

ALL THINGS TIGER: Golf coach HANK HANEY has written a book, titled "THE BIG MISS," about the six years he spent as TIGER WOODS' swing coach. The book goes on sale in the spring, and Haney believes that it "will be hard to put down." The book will be released by Crown Archetype, part of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House. It is scheduled to be published March 27, one week before the Masters (AP, 1/8)....Blueprints indicate that Woods' ex-wife ELIN NORDEGREN is "shelling out millions to raze her existing Florida home and replace it with one that dwarfs the golfer's own palatial pad." Nordegren paid $12.2M to buy the existing 17,000-square-foot oceanfront home before taking "a wrecking ball to the digs last month." She is now "set to erect a 18,984-square-foot main house" in its place (N.Y. POST, 1/9).

NAMES: The Int'l Ice Hockey Federation has "launched a special task force to find out why concussions are plaguing the sport and would back a complete overhaul of the game if that would eradicate them." The committee was announced Thursday prior to the IIHF World Junior Championship gold-medal game between Russia and Sweden. The organization will "reach out to specialists -- such as physicians who treated superstar SIDNEY CROSBY -- coaches, former players and equipment experts" as well as the NHL. IIHF VP MURRAY COSTELLO will head the committee (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/6)....Dolphins Owner STEPHEN ROSS will host a fundraiser Thursday at his Palm Beach home for Republican presidential candidate MITT ROMNEY. Invitations to the event "list 15 co-chairs who were given a target of raising $50,000 apiece and 49 host committee members with a goal of raising $25,000 each." NFL Jets Owner WOODY JOHNSON is a member of the host committee (PALM BEACH POST, 1/9)....As part of ESPN’s “Digital Media Hackathon,” for the “second straight year, teams of programmers, engineers and designers from the Digital Media group took time out … to ideate, collaborate and create the next big thing for an ESPN online or mobile product.” More than 50 hackers “making up 15 teams spread across Bristol, New York, Seattle and Bangalore, India competed for trophies and prizes awarded by a panel of judges comprised of top ESPN executives, like new president JOHN SKIPPER and Chief Technology Officer CHUCK PAGANO” (, 1/6)....Marlins President DAVID SAMSON, GM MICHAEL HILL and Equipment Manager JOHN SILVERMAN completed the Disney Goofy Challenge, which consists of running in Saturday’s half marathon and yesterday’s full marathon (, 1/8). Last night’s edition of Food Network’s “CUPCAKE WARS" featured a competition in which the winner’s cupcakes were displayed at the MLS Cup (“Cupcake Wars,” Food Network, 1/8).

IN MEMORY: Former Boston Globe sportswriter FRAN ROSA “died of cardiac and lung ailments Wednesday” at the age of 91. Rosa “helped build the Globe’s sports department into a powerhouse during his editing days in the late 1960s,” and his writing “secured him a spot as a media inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/8). In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote Rosa was “a joy, ever-smiling and gracious, qualities not always abundant in the newsrooms.” Rosa worked in an era “when reporters had time to work sources, talk a lot and listen more, and that’s what he did best.” Rosa leaves behind “millions of printed words about the games and people he so obviously loved, as well as his legacy of unwavering gentlemanly kindness” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/8)….DON CARTER, a “leading force in the formation” of the Professional Bowlers Association in ’58 and a charter member of the PBA HOF in ’75, died at the age of 85 on Thursday (AP, 1/7)

Only 5 days remain to submit an entry for the 2012 SPORTS BUSINESS AWARDS.
This Friday is the deadline – January 13.
We’re looking for the best in the following categories:

  • Sports Team
  • Sports League
  • Sports Event
  • Sports Executive
  • Athletic Director
  • Sports Media
  • Sports Television
  • Digital Sports Media
  • Talent Representation and Management
  • Corporate Consulting, Marketing and Client Services
  • Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services
  • Sports Event and Experiential Marketing
  • Sports Sponsor
  • Sports Facility
  • Sports Technology

To submit an entry, go to