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Volume 24 No. 156

People and Pop Culture

As IMG Senior VP & Dir of Action Sports, JAMES LEITZ is constantly spending his weekends traveling around the globe, producing events for everything from surfing and skateboarding to And1 basketball and triathlons. But this weekend the only travel he has to worry about is the 22-minute drive from the IMG offices in L.A. to his home in Pacific Palisades. Leitz, his wife ROSY, and their two sons, DAVID (10) and JOAQUIN (8), plan to spend the next three days taking full advantage of the California weather and lifestyle.

TOP CHEF: I do 80 percent of the cooking in our house, so I definitely try on Fridays to get home for a family dinner, especially when I’m in town. I will try to get out of here by 5:30pm PT, 6:00pm at the latest. Of course, living in California it’s all about indoor-outdoor living, so the barbeque is always going. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fish, chicken, beef, shellfish, always something going. My risottos are really good and I make a great red sauce, marinara. I have my go-tos -- my bacon-wrapped filet mignon with a skewer of fresh rosemary from our herb garden holding it together.

GREEN THUMB: Cooking and tending to the garden, for me it’s not work. I get home from work and it’s a way for me to forget about work. I’m an event producer so producing a dinner or cooking or gardening or getting dirty with my hands in the garden or just sitting out (on the patio) is really relaxing.

PICK A SIDE: I think with being a Red Sox fan and living here with the Dodgers doing as well as they’re doing, this time of year is really big in my household to watch baseball and watch the playoffs and World Series. We’re particularly invested because of our Dodgers as well as my being a fan of the Red Sox. So that’s going to be happening for sure Friday night. And the kids look forward to that as well. They’re really starting to understand sports and so we do a lot of that.

COLOR BY NUMBER: My Saturday this weekend kind of starts (Friday) night in that we have an event in Korea that the Action Sports division oversees, it’s a running event called the Color Run. It’s in Seoul, (South) Korea and it’s the first one in that country. Even though I’m not there, I’ll be monitoring that a little bit from a social media perspective, probably via e-mails and texts from our executives on the ground there to make sure things are going well. I still get -- I don’t want to say nervous -- but I feel very responsible still when we have people and equipment and events going on.
SERVES & VOLLEYS: Saturday morning I’m going to get up and I’m going to go down to the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Championships down in Huntington Beach and say “Hi” to some friends and business associates and partners and kind of continue to evaluate our relationship with the sport and what our business in pro beach volleyball is going to be for 2014. It’s important to make a showing, say hello and have some sidebar conversations here and there. It’s nice instead of having to be the promoter and actually running the event, I can sit there with my feet up on the courtside and watch some volleyball and talk.

DATE NIGHT: Saturday night my wife and I will be joining some friends and going out to Malibu, just up the street, to Nobu, which is a really great sushi restaurant. They just opened it about a year ago on the beach. Finally Malibu has a couple of restaurants that are actually what you think they should be -- right on the beach, right on the sand.

BEACH COMBING: Sunday morning is kind of special for us because we usually go walking down the hill and go to the beach below the house. My little boys now are getting more and more comfortable swimming in the surf and body surfing, and now they’re into boogie boarding and getting up on their knees. It’s going to be such a great weekend that we’re going to try to grab every last bit of summer that we can while the water is still relatively warm. ... My wife will probably join us and bring down the beach chair and the umbrella and she’ll read a book or a magazine and we’ll frolic in the surf. Then I’ll steal her chair and probably pass out for a few minutes.

PAINT THE TOWN: My son David’s birthday party, he’s turning 11, is a thing called Airsoft, which is a version of paintball. So I’m taking six of his little monster friends and we’re going to a paintball facility here in L.A. The kids love it and I think it’s pretty fun too. It’s a big boy type birthday thing and he’s really excited about it and it’s a hot new area for youth. ... Some of these little kids are going to come home to mom and dad with some good bruises on them so I’ll be answering to that I’m sure later.

WNBA Mercury President & COO AMBER COX is leaving the franchise. Cox who joined the team in '05, has been COO since '10 and President since '11. Her exit follows Suns VP/Marketing Partnerships LYNN AGNELLO's departure from the organization. Agnello handled suite sales and marketing partnerships with team sponsors for the Suns and Mercury (, 10/17).

EXECS: Octagon named NBC Sports Group Dir of Marketing & Partnerships for Alli Sports LAUREN TIETJEN Global Communications Dir (THE DAILY)....Levy Restaurants named Sodexo Prestige Dir of Marketing ANNA FENTEN Head of Marketing (Levy)....The L.A. Sports Council elected Fox Sports Media Group Exec VP/Business & Legal Affairs KAREN BRODKIN BOD Chair. Brodkin succeeds ALAN ROTHENBERG and is only the fourth person -- and first woman -- to hold the title since the LASC's '88 inception (LASC)....USA Football yesterday named several execs to its BOD, including Dolphins Exec VP/Football Adminstration DAWN APONTE and Packers President & CEO MARK MURPHY (USA Football)....The Univ. of Wisconsin-Green Bay named Bowling Green Associate AD/Extended Relations MARY ELLEN GILLESPIE AD, making her the first female to hold the position. She succeeds Northern Kentucky Univ. AD KEN BOTHOF (, 10/17)....Western Illinois Univ. named MICHAEL JONES Assistant AD/Development (WIU)....SAE Advisory Group hired PETER RUPPE and STEVE FREY (THE DAILY)....Hibbert Sports named Exec Chair MICKEY NEWSOME Non-Exec Chair, effective February 2, 2014. The company also appointed President & CEO JEFF ROSENTHAL to its BOD effective immediately, increasing the board's size to 10 members (Hibbert Sports).

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The Shanghai Administration of Sports prior to Friday’s Lakers-Warriors game at the Mercedes-Benz Arena recognized NBA Commissioner DAVID STERN with the Shanghai Sports Honorary Award. The award is given to individuals who have contributed to the development of sports in Shanghai. Stern, the first non-Chinese citizen to receive the award, was honored for his contributions to basketball development and his vision for bringing NBA games to the city (THE DAILY).

SMART WATER: Virginia Commonwealth Univ. men's basketball coach SHAKA SMART signed a new contract that will keep him at the school through '28 "should he choose to stay in his current job." Smart’s new contract with VCU, signed Oct. 11, "keeps his base salary at $450,000 per season." But his supplemental income "increases in the first year to $950,000, up from $800,000 in his previous contract." Smart’s supplemental income increases to $1M "in the second year of the new contract." His contract "is for 10 years," from '13 through '23. But in the "first five years of the deal, the contract automatically extends by one year, taking it to 2028" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 10/18).

NAMES: Bills Owner RALPH WILSON turned 95 on Thursday and celebrated in his suburban Detroit home with Bills President & CEO RUSS BRANDON (, 10/17)....Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT and girlfriend RICKI LANDER attended a benefit this week in N.Y. for the Elton John AIDS Foundation (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/18). Kraft also "prepared lunch" Thursday at the Women's Lunch Place Shelter in Boston (BOSTON HERALD, 10/18)....The Univ. of Maryland's Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism named ESPN News Editor CLAIRE SMITH the inaugural winner of the Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award for making significant contributions to racial and gender equality in sports (UMD)....Twins C JOE MAUER on Thursday attended the "culmination of the Gallons for Good program, which will provide school supplies to 4,000 children in need in Minnesota and Wisconsin through a donation to the Kids in Need Foundation" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 10/17).