VARIETY's Rick Kissell noted NFL Films and HBO Sports on Thursday announced that they have "reached agreement on a long-term extension of the 'Hard Knocks' franchise." The reality series is "set to return to HBO next month with a new, five-episode edition featuring" the Bengals. When “Hard Knocks” debuted in the summer of '01, it was "television’s first sports reality series." The series in the ensuing decade, "became the most-acclaimed sports reality franchise on television, earning national recognition for its innovative production techniques, unscripted drama and unmatched storytelling" (VARIETY.com, 7/18).
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes when it "comes to finding a soft place to land, hand-picking a patsy to interview him, nobody does it better than" Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez. WFAN-AM's Mike Francesa on Wednesday "over the course of 19 questions ... never mentioned the words 'Bosch,' 'Biogenesis,' 'performance-enhancing drugs' or 'suspension.'" Many of Francesa’s questions "were leading, hanging curves that A-Rod crushed." While his interview time "was limited, Francesa -- who has a history of criticizing other reporter’s questions -- failed to squeeze in a couple of follow-ups" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/19).
DAWG DAYS OF SUMMER: In Cleveland, Scott Suttell reported the Browns and Good Karma Broadcasting's ESPN station, WKNR-AM, announced that host Vic Carucci will be "joined by national sports radio host Nathan Zegura." In addition, the Browns and Good Karma said that the show "will move from its 6 p.m. time slot and now will air live every Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., effective Monday, July 22" (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 7/18).
PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN: In Boston, Chad Finn writes, "Kudos to ESPN.com for officially changing its reader commenting policy Wednesday." The new policy is that "anyone who wishes to weigh in must have an attached Facebook account." In an attempt at "restoring some semblance of accountability and respectful discourse to the comment sections, ESPN has eliminated anonymity even if it means traffic takes a small hit" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/19).