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Volume 24 No. 159


The new season of Showtime's "The Franchise," which features the Marlins, debuts next week, and the show "takes everything a giant step further" from last year's season, with cameras "going into meetings among the team’s executives," according to a front-page piece by Glenn Garvin of the MIAMI HERALD. The show’s cameras were in the room when manager Ozzie Guillen, "looking like he was about to vomit, was told by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson that he was being suspended" for making comments in support of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The cameras also were present "when Loria and Samson scornfully dismissed a proposal from slumping third baseman Hanley Ramirez’s agent for a contract extensions." Field Producer Mary Gaynin said, "We've become the fly on the wall. We watch and listen, and they just don't notice us." Produced for Showtime "by baseball's own studio, MLB Productions, 'The Franchise' is unlikely to break news of a seriously scandalous nature like, say, steroid use." But neither is it "contrived drama of reality TV shows." The show’s camera crews "get an extraordinary level of access." That was the price Loria "was willing to pay to get 'The Franchise' to follow the Marlins." His promise was "put to the test when Guillen’s interview praising Castro was published in Time magazine this spring." Showtime President of Entertainment David Nevins said that he "'did have a moment of doubt' about whether the Marlins would stick to their promise when the Castro story broke." Nevins said, "I’m sure when Jeffrey made us the promise, he could never have imagined anything like that. But when I found out we had the footage of the meeting (where Guillen was suspended), I called both the Marlins and Major League Baseball to see if they were going to try to stop us from putting it on the air. ... But both parties, after a lot of consideration, said, let’s do it." Garvin notes not only was the tape "cleared to air, but the Marlins agreed to a special preview episode built around it, which aired in April" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/5).

Wimbledon coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 averaged a 0.5 Nielsen U.S. rating for the first week of the tournament, even with the '11 tournament, and 569,000 HHs, up 8% from last year. Saturday's 10-hour-plus Wimbledon telecast on ESPN earned a 0.9 U.S. rating, the best for a "middle Saturday" since the net's '07 coverage earned a 1.0. Digital consumption on ESPN3 and WatchESPN is up 67% from '11 through the same point in the tourney, with 46.6 million live minutes consumed across all digital platforms (ESPN).

UNDER ANY OTHER NAME: During the fourth-round match between David Ferrer and Juan Martin del Potro, ESPN’s Chris Fowler said “one of the amusing things about Twitter is they have these ... parody accounts: Pseudo Fed, Pseudo Rafa. Very funny.” ESPN’s John McEnroe asked, “You mean fake guys pretending to be these guys?” When Fowler answered yes, McEnroe in a serious tone said, “Why is that funny? Shouldn’t they be arrested as imposters?” Fowler said, “They make it plain that it’s not the real Roger Federer saying the things that Pseudo Fed says. I’m not trying to convince you of the comedy potential of Twitter, I’m just saying it’s out there.” Fowler called it “good-natured parody” and said to McEnroe, “Take it or leave it. I’m not trying to sell you.” McEnroe: “I’ve left it. I haven’t entered it. ... Is there a Pseudo Chris Fowler?” Fowler: “It’d be pretty dull” ("Wimbledon," ESPN, 7/3).