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Volume 24 No. 156

People and Pop Culture

JOHN SKIPPER has solidified his exec team at ESPN, ensuring that he will stay intimately involved in ESPN's content department, the network announced today. All of the execs who reported to Skipper as Exec VP/Content will keep reporting to him now that he is ESPN President. The biggest change involves Exec VP/Programming & Acquisitions JOHN WILDHACK and Exec VP/Production NORBY WILLIAMSON, who will switch roles. That means Williamson will handle the relationships with the leagues and negotiate media rights deals, while Wildhack will make production and talent decisions. Both execs will continue to report to Skipper. A big winner in the re-shuffle is JOHN KOSNER, who was promoted to Exec VP/Digital & Print Media, reporting to Skipper. Another move involves Senior VP/Business Affairs & Development MARIE DONOGHUE, who becomes Senior VP/Global Strategy, Business Development & Business Affairs, reporting to Skipper. Most of GEORGE BODENHEIMER's direct reports will now report to Skipper, including Exec VP/Sales & Marketing SEAN BRATCHES, Exec VP & CFO CHRISTINE DRIESSEN, Exec VP/Administration ED DURSO, Exec VP/Technology & CTO CHUCK PAGANO, Senior VP/HR PAUL RICHARDSON, Exec VP and Exec Editor JOHN WALSH and ESPN Int'l Exec VP &Managing Dir RUSSELL WOLFF.

IndyCar promoted Dir of Corporate Business Development MARC KORETZKY to COO and VP/Sales GREG GRUNING to Exec VP/Corporate Business Development. The organization also elevated KASEY COLER to VP/Marketing, MARK SIBLA to VP/Partner Strategy and TIFFANY HEMMER to VP/Legal (IndyCar).....Mandalay Baseball Properties promoted Exec VP & Chief Strategy Officer LARRY FREEDMAN to President (THE DAILY)....The Predators promoted Senior Marketing Dir DAVID KELLS to VP/Booking for Bridgestone Arena (Predators)....Manhattan College named The College at Brockport AD NOAH LEFEVRE Senior Associate AD (MC). 

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ESPN N.Y.'s Ian O'Connor noted NFL Giants VP/Player Evaluation CHRIS MARA "delayed his commute to work" yesterday to watch the announcements of the Academy Awards nominations to see if his daughter ROONEY MARA made the list for the best actress category. Rooney Mara was nominated for her role in "THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO," and Chris Mara said, "I thought she was on the bubble because the category was so tough this year. It was a very tough role for her, and a lot of hard work went into it, so this is her Super Bowl." Chris Mara "missed the Giants' stunning playoff victory in Green Bay to be with his daughter at the Golden Globes, but there's no conflict this time around" with the Super Bowl. He will be "ducking out of the scouting combine next month to get to Hollywood in time to see" if his daughter is awarded an Oscar (, 1/24).

HOOTING FOR A COMMISSIONER: In Tulsa, Dave Sittler writes the next Big 12 commissioner "should be the current CEO at Hooters." Sittler: "Suggesting the boss of Hooters was more than just an attention-getter." Hooters President & CEO TERRANCE MARKS "finished second when the Pac-12 conference hired its new commissioner in March 2009." Marks was "President of Coca-Cola's North America division when he became a finalist for the Pac-12 job that eventually went to LARRY SCOTT." Sittler writes if Marks was "good enough to finish runner-up to Scott out of a strong field of candidates, it's at least worth a phone call to see if he'd still like to lead a BCS conference" (TULSA WORLD, 1/25).

SUPER WEEKEND OF SUPER CARS: The '12 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee announced yesterday that the Super Celebration Sites, along with "key locations around the city, will be hosting Super Cars during Super Bowl weekend." The Super Cars program will "showcase 33 Indy Cars, with 32 cars representing each NFL franchise team and one car representing Super Bowl XLVI." The Super Bowl Host Committee, partnering with Indy Racing Experience, will "unveil the cars on Friday along Meridian Street just south of Monument Circle" (, 1/24).

NAMES: Angels Owner ARTE MORENO has been named the '11 Sports Exec of the Year by the L.A. Sports Council. Moreno will be presented his award during the seventh annual L.A. Sports Awards on March 15 at Club Nokia at L.A. Live. The awards show will be televised by FS West (, 1/24)....Bobcats Owner MICHAEL JORDAN and his Cornerstone Restaurant Group are "teaming up with Urbanbelly founder BILL KIM and his wife, YVONNE CADIZ KIM, for a new restaurant called Belly Q. It is set to open in the spring in Chicago (, 1/24)....AC/DC lead singer BRIAN JOHNSON is scheduled to make his Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype debut in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Instead of finding sponsors for his car, Johnson and his team are “raising funds for Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Austin Hatcher Foundation by allowing fans the opportunity to help raise $1 million for families affected by pediatric cancer.” The fundraiser is called “Highway to Help” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 1/24)....The Penguins on March 7 will unveil a bronze statue of co-Owner & Chair MARIO LEMIEUX outside Consol Energy Center. The sculptor for the statue is BRUCE WOLFE (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/25)....Lemieux was seen “taking in his son’s youth hockey tournament" in Foxboro, Mass., then "chowing on filet mignon with other hockey dads" at Sky Restaurant in nearby Norwood. Also, Ohio State Univ. football coach URBAN MEYER and former NFLer MIKE VRABEL dined at La Scala in Randolph, Mass. Meanwhile, Patriots President JONATHAN KRAFT joined the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in honoring real estate developer RON DRUKER at the Four Seasons (BOSTON HERALD, 1/25).