Wednesday night’s edition of Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports” profiled Guggenheim Partners, the new Dodgers ownership group, with CBS’ Byron Pitts noting the team has “emerged from unthinkable bankruptcy to almost unbelievable wealth in all in less than a year.” He said the Dodgers have “gone on a spending spree that would shame even the late Yankees Owner GEORGE STEINBRENNER.” Pitts said Dodgers Chair MARK WALTER is “so low-profile, this is the first TV interview he’s ever given.” Dodgers investor PETER GUBER said in the entertainment industry, he “would always choose the best talent and pay what was proper to make that product financially successful.” Guber: “I think this team does the same thing. I think this business does the same thing. Do people make mistakes? Yes. Are they glaring sometimes? Yes … but that’s the risk you take by taking charge of a system.” The L.A. Times’ BILL SHAIKIN said when the group bought the Dodgers, “you also bought the parking lots around the stadium” which is close to 300 acres of “undeveloped land.” Shaikin said the NFL “would love nothing more than to build their new football stadium in the Dodger Stadium parking lot” (“60 Minutes Sports,” Showtime, 4/3).
People and Pop Culture
A new documentary on VENUS and SERENA WILLIAMS titled “Venus and Serena” debuted on iTunes on Thursday and will “hit theaters on May 10,” according to Douglas Robson of USA TODAY. The film, from MICHELLE MAJOR and MAIKEN BAIRD, “follows the sisters during their turbulent 2011 season.” Major “denied reports that the sisters withdrew their support after seeing a rough cut of the film and failing to show up for a scheduled appearance at the world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September.” Major said that the sisters were “paid for their time as well as for old photos and video footage.” Major, when asked if the sisters would benefit from any commercial success of the film, “declined to elaborate.” Major and Baird “became fascinated with the sisters when they broke onto the national stage in the 1990s.” Baird in an e-mail wrote, "They broke just about every barrier as African-American sisters when they became number one and number two in the world in tennis. It's the great American story rich with sisterhood, family, race, hard work and tenaciousness.” Robson noted for those “familiar with the Williams story, the film doesn't break much new ground.” What it “does do is piece together their long, extraordinary journey from the streets of Compton, Calif., to winning a combined 22 major singles titles and becoming the first sisters to occupy the top two spots in tennis simultaneously.” Some of the “most compelling shots are the early footage of the sisters doing drills with their father, driving around in a beat-up Volkswagen minibus, and being interviewed as young children” (USA TODAY, 4/4).
FAMILY VALUES: SI.com's Courtney Nguyen noted the "best scene features an argument between Serena and hitting partner SASCHA BAJIN after her third-round win over VICTORIA AZARENKA at the 2011 U.S. Open." Warming down from her match "on a treadmill, Serena is furious at Bajin, telling him he was horrible in practice and needs to improve." It is "one of the few moments in the movie that doesn’t feel like Serena cares about her image or is trying to be 'on' for the cameras, and it’s incredible to hear her speak with such vulnerability and self-awareness as to how she thinks she’s perceived in the locker room and how much she’s hurt and motivated by it." The film, "more than anything, shows just how close a relationship Venus and Serena have." However, it does take an "arguably unnecessary tangent" into their father RICHARD WILLIAMS' "womanizing history, questioning the family about his other families and children" (SI.com, 4/4).
To say that Wall Street Journal Sports Editor SAM WALKER is simply a Univ. of Michigan "fan" would a major understatement. The Ann Arbor native's memories date back to the ripe age of four years old when he began hooting and hollering for the maize and blue. With the school making its first Final Four appearance since 1993, there is little guess as to what will occupy Walker's time this weekend. However, Walker still plans to find time to celebrate his wedding anniversary, cheer at opening day of Little League and attend an auto show.
BIG BLUE: This weekend is kind of unusual in that it all revolves around one event, which is Saturday night’s Michigan game in the Final Four. The entire weekend will rise and fall from the outcome of that game. It’s not just my alma mater, I grew up in Ann Arbor. My father was on the Michigan faculty. I’ve been a Michigan fan since I was four. I have memories of being at a football game at four years old.
SILK ANNIVERSARY: We have dinner plans with friends on Friday night and we’ll probably just go to a little place. I live in the West Village and there are so many great restaurants. We’re obsessed with a place called Red Farm on Hudson Street and there’s a little place called De Santos that we go to. It’s our 12th wedding anniversary this week, although we’ve already kind of celebrated.
PLAY BALL! It’s Little League Opening Day on Saturday for my son. That’s a big deal and we’re going to hit that and then we have practice. I’m not a bad Little League parent, I’m just kind of a schizophrenic Little League parent. I have my BlackBerry, because the whole weekend -- when you’re running a sports department -- everything is happening on the weekends. We’re odd in that we don’t have a Sunday paper, so we’re a little bit different on the print side. But we’re constantly updating and writing for online. So the traffic going through my inbox on a Saturday is still pretty strong. So I’m kind of half looking at my BlackBerry, half watching and trying to give my son bad advice. I don’t do a lot of yelling, I’m more like positive coaching.
SPINNING WHEELS: If I can sneak in a bike ride around Central Park, I’ll do it. When I’m in town I do that. But this Saturday I need to be home and in complete lockdown by 6:00pm for the beginning of the two games. We have a beach place out on the north fork of Long Island that we tend to spend a lot of time at. If we’re out there, we go on long bike rides. When I’m in the city, it’s my favorite thing. I have a little crappy, collapsible bike and will literally run out and get on it and pedal up there. Do a couple loops around the park, work up a sweat and come home. Usually, I can do it in under an hour, which is good with two young kids.
FOUR SQUARE: People think I’m weird because there are a bunch of Final Four viewing parties and people are kind of getting very excited about it. But I want nothing to do with it. I don’t want to be around anybody. I’m a complete maniac. I can’t really be in my house anymore, increasingly because of the kids. I have a seven-year-old and a four-year-old and they just don’t get it. I’m going to see how it goes, the first half probably won’t be too bad. And then, probably for the second half, I’ll have to sneak out. There are a couple of NYU dive bars that I know will have the game on and it will be loud and I can be a complete maniac and no one will notice.
GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING: On Sunday, I don’t have time to mope. Bright and early, my son’s Little League game starts. Then we’re off to the auto show, which is our fifth annual trip to it. My son and I are car nuts, and it’s the last day, so we’re sneaking in under the wire. We’re huge car geeks. We bought a car a couple years ago. It was a '63 Chevy Corvair, which was a bit of a beater, but as a convertible it was a lot of fun and we did a lot of work to it. Then we lost it in Hurricane Sandy after it got flooded. So we were crushed and to console ourselves, we went out and got a '74 MG Midget and we also bought a '66 Mustang Convertible, which is also in pretty rough shape. But we’re doing a little bit of work on it ourselves.
TOTALLY IMPARTIAL: I have to stress that I am a completely objective journalist when it comes to Michigan and all college sports. I do not discriminate, I do not favor them in any way with our coverage. I think we’ve been tough with them in the past and we’ll continue to be. But I can’t help who I am. It’s the only team that I feel that passionately about. I have other teams that I like, but nothing even closely approaches my devotion to Michigan teams.
BOOK WORM: I read a lot of books, but I don’t really read a lot of sports books. I really try to take a vacation from sports on the weekend (as much as I can). I’m not reading novels, but I like nonfiction. I try to stretch my brain and read other topics. I like to read pretty much the entire newspaper -- except the sports section -- on Sundays. And thus I am sometimes the last guy who saw the big play or the big game. I remove myself a little more than you would probably think. My wife is a literary agent, so I’m sort of married to the publishing mafia. I just finished "BOOMERANG" by MICHAEL LEWIS, which I’d been meaning to read for a while. And I’m reading a galley of a book called "DECISIVE" by CHIP & DAN HEATH. I like books about management and business and finance.
Pac-12 Coordinator of Men's Basketball Officiating ED RUSH resigned Thursday, "only two days after he received a vote of confidence" from Commissioner LARRY SCOTT. Rush "couldn't overcome a torrent of negative publicity stemming from the story that he offered $5,000 or a trip to Cancun to any official who ejected, or called a technical foul, on Arizona coach SEAN MILLER during last month's conference tournament in Las Vegas" (LATIMES.com, 4/4).
LADIES FIRST: FAU cheerleading coach HEATHER HENDERSON on Wednesday "added the director of football operations to her duties." Henderson had been "assisting in recruiting since November." She is believed to be the "only woman director of football operations" at an FBS-level school. SARAH GIGANTINO holds the position at FCS-level school Georgia State Univ. (PALM BEACH POST, 4/4).
CAMPUS CONNECTIONS: Eastern Michigan Univ. named Associate AD and Senior Woman Administrator MELODY REIFEL WERNER interim AD (EMU)....Clemson Univ. named Middle Tennessee State Univ. Associate AD GRAHAM NEFF Associate AD/Business Operations & CFO and Florida State Univ. Assistant AD & Dir of Student-Athlete Academic Services STEVE DUZAN Associate AD/Athletic Academic Services (Clemson)....Bowling Green State Univ. named Associate AD/Compliance & Student-Athlete Services MARK SHOOK interim AD. He replaces GREG CHRISTOPHER, who is leaving to take over as Xavier Univ. AD (BGSU)....Utah State Univ. named Univ. of Arkansas Associate Dir of Academic Support WAQA DAMUNI Assistant AD/Football Operations (Utah State)....The Univ. of New Orleans named CHARLES SMALL Assistant AD/Student-Athlete Enrichment (UNO).
EXECS: Hockey HOF Chair & CEO BILL HAY has announced he "will retire later this year." Selection Committee co-Chair PAT QUINN will "take over" as chair, while President & COO JEFF DENOMME will "add CEO duties to his job title." Hay will step down July 31 and the succession appointments will "become effective Aug. 1" (TSN.ca, 4/4)....Buffalo Communications promoted SCOTT LEIGHTMAN to PR Dir and GLENN GRAY to PR Manager (Buffalo Communications)....The Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau named MIKE SOPHIA Sacramento Sports Commission Dir (SACBEE.com, 4/5).
Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ESPN.com's Steve Etheridge profiles JAY-Z in the wake of the launch of Roc Nation Sports and writes the entertainer is an "embodiment of control, whether over the indignity of the streets or the staggering demands of ruling an empire." Though his stake in the Nets "amounts to only one-fifteenth of 1 percent, he has leveraged it with his local clout to seize a much more public role in sculpting the Nets’ identity." From overseeing the new logo design to "curating the music that’s played during games, nearly everything about the team now bears his distinct watermark." And the organization has "now learned to revere his counsel. And players listen to him, too. They come to him for advice." If anything, it "makes his foray into sports management seem instinctive." Just as rap music "feeds off of drama, Roc Nation Sports stormed onto the scene in devastatingly dramatic fashion, swiping one of the world’s most coveted clients from under the nose of the game’s reigning heavyweight champ" (ESPN.com, 4/4).
BACK, BACK, BACK: Wednesday night's edition of Showtime's "60 Minutes Sports" profiled ESPN's CHRIS BERMAN. Berman said of his three decades with the net, "They're not smart enough to get rid of me yet, (but) it's coming." Berman added of beginning at ESPN on the overnight broadcast, "Nobody did sports for half an hour, so there was no mold for any of us. So at 3:00am there were really no rules as long as you didn't curse, as long as you weren't stupid, and you spoke in complete sentences." Berman noted some critics may say he is "a little too much." But he added, "Not everybody orders the same meal off the menu" ("60 Minutes Sports," Showtime, 4/3).
FASHION SENSE: Wizards G JOHN WALL is on the cover of D.C. Modern Luxury magazine's latest issue as part of the "Men of Style" feature. Also featured are Redskins WR JOSH MORGAN, Capitals D MIKE GREEN, MLL Chesapeake Bayhawks MF KYLE DIXON, MLS DC United MFs DWAYNE DE ROSARIO and CHRIS PONTIUS, and ESPN "Around The Horn" host TONY REALI (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/4)....Members of the MLS Revolution modeled looks from Ted Baker London's spring/summer line at a "benefit" for America SCORES (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/5)....Patriots coach BILL BELICHICK and his girlfriend, LINDA HOLLIDAY, attended the Spring Scene fashion show this week at the Revere Hotel in Boston (BOSTONHERALD.com, 4/4).
CHARITY STRIPE: The PGA Tour announced Thursday that charitable contributions from the PGA, Champions and Web.com Tours "established a record" by surpassing $130M for '12. The previous record was set in '10 at $124.5M. All-time charitable contributions now are at $1.86B, with "more than" $1.5B of that coming in since '94. The Tour "expects to surpass" the $2B milestone in early '14 (JSONLINE.com, 4/4).
NAMES: The OWN Network is going to air a "reality show" based on the relationship between Nuggets C JAVALE MCGEE and his mother, former WNBAer PAMELA MCGEE (DENVERPOST.com, 4/4)....West Loop apartment ventures in Chicago, in "cahoots" with Bulls and White Sox Owner JERRY REINSDORF, has "closed on the purchase of five separate development sites within roughly a 10-square-block area" (CHICAGOCURBED.com, 4/4)....Former astronaut JOHN GLENN and Reds Owner BOB CASTELLINI will be "among four people" receiving honorary degrees from the Univ. of Cincinnati this month (AP, 4/4)....U.S. Rep. (D-N.Y.) GREGORY MEEKS is “hosting a fundraiser” at the Belmont Stakes in June (POLITICO.com, 4/4)….Police said that while Heat F CHRIS BOSH was “out celebrating his birthday” on Wednesday, thieves “made off with about $340,000 in jewelry” from his home (AP, 4/4)….Patriots QB TOM BRADY and his wife, supermodel GISELE BUNDCHEN, are “looking to buy a new NYC pad.” The couple was spotted “hunting for a luxe dwelling in the West Village” (N.Y. POST, 4/5).
IN MEMORY: The Hurricanes announced longtime employee DORIS BARKSDALE passed away on Wednesday in Raleigh at the age of 77. Barksdale joined the organization as a motivational consultant is ’94, and took on additional responsibilities with the community relations department when the team relocated to North Carolina in ’97 (Hurricanes).