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Volume 24 No. 117

People and Pop Culture

EPL club Arsenal Chief Commercial Officer TOM FOX is "understood to be on the verge" of being named Aston Villa CEO, according to John Percy of the London TELEGRAPH. Fox "is highly regarded at Arsenal, with the American having helped to set up" the $283M (all figures U.S.) kit deal with Puma last year. He "has been approached" by Villa Owner RANDY LERNER "following the surprise departure of PAUL FAULKNER in July." Lerner "is keen to complete the appointment within the next few days as he wants a proper structure in place to carry out day-to-day operations while he is back" in the U.S. (London TELEGRAPH, 8/20). In London, John Wragg writes landing Fox would be "regarded as such a coupe by Lerner it could lead him to reconsidering his decision to sell-up at Villa." Fox "will have full control of the direction this new-look Villa will take." In the five years Fox has been with Arsenal, it has "clinched an Emirates shirt sponsorship that was the second biggest in the game's history and a huge kit deal with Puma" (London EXPRESS, 8/20). Fox had previous stints in the U.S. with the NBA, Nike, Gatorade and Wasserman Media Group. He also was named to SportsBusiness Journal's "Forty Under 40" class in '02 and '01 (THE DAILY).

Clippers Owner STEVE BALLMER yesterday "shed the list of his management ties" to Microsoft "by stepping down" from its BOD. Microsoft CEO SATYA NADELLA said Ballmer would leave, "effective immediately." Ballmer: "Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off." A company spokesperson said that Ballmer "was not asked to leave the board" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/20). Ballmer indicated he stepped down because of "his duties" as Clippers owner. He said, "I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time." He still "has a significant financial stake in Microsoft's future." His current holdings amount to about 4% of Microsoft's total shares, valued at $15.1B at yesterday's U.S. market close (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/20). Meanwhile, in Seattle, Rob Smith wrote nobody "knows what kind of an owner Ballmer will be, though he had some very public missteps as Microsoft CEO." But owning an NBA franchise "is much different than running a global corporation," and "regardless of his approach, he's bound to be better than DONALD STERLING." Ballmer's enthusiasm "is infectious" and "exactly what the NBA needs for one of its historically downtrodden franchises" (, 8/19).

I'M SO EXCITED: Ballmer made headlines with his energetic appearance at a Clippers fan rally Monday, and he said, “I get energy from talking to people who are excited about something. The fans were excited. I've never done anything in sports, and I fed off the energy. DOC (RIVERS) got me fired up, actually, the crowd got me fired up, and it’s just exciting. It's an exciting opportunity. We do have such a great team and so much opportunity, it's kind of easy to get carried away." Clippers F BLAKE GRIFFIN said, "I've never seen an owner of a team come out and greet a crowd like that and be kind of that open about everything and just have that much excitement. So that was crazy. It really was crazy and I think that all my teammates felt the same way.” Clippers G CHRIS PAUL: "We both got goose bumps. We felt like we had a game tonight. If you can't play for an owner like that, then something's wrong with you.” Meanwhile, Ballmer discussed how he would voice his opinion on league matters despite being a rookie owner, saying, “I'm not a wilting flower. ... I'm an energetic guy, I'm a positive guy. If I have something to say, I'll probably tell people I have something to say" ("NBA GameTime," NBA TV, 8/19).

PLAYING IT FOR LAUGHS: Ballmer's performance Monday was touched on during several late-night talk shows last night. NBC’s Jimmy Fallon said, "The Clippers' new owner, former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer, promised fans that the team will win a NBA Championship. He says he has a great strategy for rebuilding the team: Control-alt-delete. Actually, Steve Ballmer spoke to fans at the Clippers' rally yesterday. It's hard to tell, but I think that he was pretty excited about his new team.” After showing a clip from the rally, Fallon said, “Then the Clippers fans were like, ‘Well, at least the racist guy was quiet’" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 8/19). Ballmer was the inspiration for CBS' David Letterman Top Ten list last night, which was titled, “Top Ten Signs Your Team Owner Is Nuts.” Letterman said of Ballmer, “This guy is in a different gear. He is really high powered, aggressive, energetic and some say nuts" (“Late Show,” CBS, 8/19).

Last night's Top Ten list was “Top Ten Signs Your Team Owner Is Nuts.” Letterman said, “Steve Ballmer, the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was introduced to thousands of fans yesterday at the L.A. Staples Center" (“Late Show,” CBS, 8/19).

10) “Insists on showering with the players.”
9) “Halftime show: Burning Tires.”
8) “To provide arena security, hired Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department.”
7) “Hints to the press that he’s dating A-ROD.”
6) “Favorite president: JAMES K. POLK.”
5) “Parks his car on the court.”
4) “Traded star player for three million loose cigarettes.”
3) “Promises team will defeat ISIS.”
2) “Attending post-game parties, wearing ‘Nothing But Net.’”
1) “Is penalized for holding himself.”

Name: Aaron Brenner

Position: NHL Kings Dir of Production & KingsVision

Age: 28

Where I’m from: Reseda, Calif.

Where I call home: L.A.

Focusing on right now: Generating new incremental revenue through KingsVision creative.

Brenner said AEG is structured in a way that it 
promotes creative thinking and hard work
Best advice: Surround yourself with good people -- people that are better than you at everything.

A must for a new hire: The desire to want to learn in everything they do, the desire to be open to new ideas and thinking, and not be afraid to ask questions. There’s constantly more to learn. So if everyone approaches it in that same way, collectively as a team we get better. And then individually, you’re able to better yourself and give yourself more value.

Exec I most admire: AEG Chair PHIL ANSCHUTZ really kind of guides this company and instills a sense of creativity. AEG is structured in a way that it really promotes creative thinking and hard work. And the environment that Mr. Anschutz has created over the years is just exciting. I definitely feel like no idea is too crazy if it makes sense from a business standpoint.

Best book I've read this year: I recently read and re-read the STEVE JOBS biography by WALTER ISAACSON. I loved the way it was written, the way it portrayed Steve and his outlook on life, his ability to find solutions and think outside the box in everything he did. The book just captures it in a way that I loved.

First thing in the morning: I have a fairly long commute through Los Angeles morning traffic, so I spend almost all my drives just listening to podcasts like NPR’s “THIS AMERICAN LIFE” and “RADIO LAB.” “Radio Lab” is a fun spin on scientific education; it’s a cool way to look at news stories that have a bit of narrative. I feel like walking away from every episode learning more about people, places and just a new way to look at different problems.

Talking tech: There's a productivity tool that I’ve used for years called SimpleNote. I love that app because it’s so simple in its concept. It’s just a text-based notes application, but it syncs across all platforms. It allows me to save everything from lists to strings of text that I use often to standard responses to e-mail. It syncs to your laptop, desktop, iPad or phone.

Must-have music: I've got two all-time favorite artists. One is DAVID BAZAN. Anything he does I just absolutely love. I find myself gravitating any way he’s going. My other is BUILT TO SPILL.

Food for thought: One of my favorite restaurants is a little place in El Segundo, California, right down the street from our offices, called Wendy's Place. It’s old fashioned in every sense of the word: cash only, not even an ATM there. It’s a little coffee shop that’s unique in the sense that it’s built around the community and all the same regulars are always there. If you go for long enough, you’ll realize that just another customer will go behind the counter and grab a pot of coffee and just refill everyone’s cup.

How I unwind: I drive a lot through L.A. traffic and I totally find it to be relaxing. I don’t really get stressed too easily and so I can sit in traffic for five hours and laugh about it. Also, I watch “60 MINUTES” every week. It’s the only show that I make sure to go out of my way to record it and watch it.

Day in the life: When we won the Stanley Cup in 2012, it was a huge learning experience. So for the second run, we pulled out all the stops in a way that I feel like captured the emotion of the city. We had cameras in bars and people’s homes and on wives and fans. One of the things we learned was about the relationships we were able to build with vendors and talent. We’re uniquely positioned here in Los Angeles with the studios, and some of the best talent lives and works here. We've built KingsVision as a platform for our fans to not only connect with the team, but to drive our brand identity. We’re hoping to leverage that and deliver new, engaging content next season that we can then also turn to our partners and tie them into that to generate new revenue.

The Maple Leafs named NHL Senior Dir of Central Registry and Senior Advisor of Central Scouting BRANDON PRIDHAM Assistant to the GM. Pridham will assist with salary cap analysis, contract negotiations and CBA interpretation (Maple Leafs)....Tennis Channel named Fox Sports Media Group VP/Collegiate Sports & Rights Acquisitions JEREMY LANGER VP/Programming (Tennis Channel)....The Padres named Rangers Senior Special Assistant to the GM for Scouting DON WELKE VP/Scouting Operations (Padres)....Equipment maker BRG Sports promoted DAN ARMENT to Exec VP. Arment, who will continue to serve as Riddell President, also has been named Bell Cycling Products President and was added to the BRG Sports BOD (BRG Sports)....UCLA promoted Senior Associate AD and Senior Woman Administrator PETRINA LONG to Exec Associate AD, with responsibility and oversight over all sports programs in addition to her current list of responsibilities (THE DAILY)....Appalachian State Univ. named Deputy AD RICK BEASLEY interim AD after CHARLIE COBB took the AD position at Georgia State Univ. A national search for Cobb's replacement begins immediately (ASU)....Chicago State Univ. named Kentucky State Univ. AD DENISHA HENDRICKS to the same position (CSU)....East Carolina Univ. named Univ. of North Carolina Associate Dir of Ticket Operations JASON STEINBERG Dir of Ticket Operations (ECU)....The Univ. of Arkansas named Univ. of Miami Senior Associate AD/Communications, Marketing & Ticket Sales CHRIS FREET Senior Associate AD/External Operations & Strategic Communications. Freet will be the athletic department's liaison with the SEC Network (Arkansas)....NBA ref DICK BAVETTA will retire after 39 years with the league (NBA).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

Former NHLer STEVE MOORE yesterday "received an out-of-court settlement" in his civil suit against the Canucks and NHL free agent TODD BERTUZZI. The suit was "scheduled to go to trial Sept. 8 in Toronto, and witnesses were to include" NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN. A lawyer for Bertuzzi said that the terms of the settlement "are confidential." Moore, who was "attacked from behind by Bertuzzi in a March 8, 2004 game in Vancouver, was seeking" $68M in damages (, 8/21). The settlement means "one of the longest-running PR nightmares in league history is drawing slowly to a close" (TORONTO STAR, 8/20).

OWNERS IN THE NEWS: Cavaliers Owner DAN GILBERT is close to buying a "stake in the company that publishes the Robb Report." A source said that the price tag is about $60M for what is "basically a one-title company that is believed to be kicking around" $10M year in profit. The company chose Gilbert because he would allow CurtCo. Robb Media CEO BILL CURTIS to "remain involved in the operation after the sale" (N.Y. POST, 8/20)....Senators Owner EUGENE MELNYK yesterday announced that the Ottawa Senators Foundation "has surpassed" C$100M in community contributions (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 8/20). Melnyk "put an exclamation point on surpassing the milestone of $100 million raised for the community ... by taking up the viral Ice Bucket Challenge in support of ALS" (OTTAWA SUN, 8/20)....Colts Owner JIM IRSAY's request for a delay of his impaired driving trial "will likely put the trial date in late October or early November." The prosecutor for the case "is not opposing the delay" (, 8/19).

: In Houston, John McClain wrote one of the "highlights of coming to Denver to watch the Texans practice against the Broncos was seeing" former Broncos VP/PR JIM SACCOMANO, who retired following the '13 season after 36 years with the team. Sacco, as he is "known to everyone in the NFL, is one of the all-time great guys and one of the all-time great media relations directors." Getting to visit with him "was worth the trip" (, 8/19).

MENDING FENCES: As part of the Vikings' settlement with former NFLer CHRIS KLUWE, the team announced a $100,000 contribution "to charities that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes, and they will make additional contributions to five LGBT-friendly charities over the next five years." The team also will "enhance sensitivity training that is already required throughout the organization." The financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Kluwe said that he "will not receive any money" (, 8/19).

NAMES: Jaguars GM DAVE CALDWELL and Dir of Player Development MARCUS POLLARD had "buckets of water poured over them" by LBs J.T. THOMAS and LAROY REYNOLDS as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Caldwell then challenged Jags radio broadcasters TONY BOSELLI and JEFF LAGEMAN, while Pollard challenged former NFLer FRED TAYLOR (, 8/19)....Tickets for Chinese stage production "I WAS MARBURY" went on sale yesterday. The play covers former NBAer STEPHON MARBURY's life during the '11-12 Beijing Ducks season -- when he "led the team to its first championship." Marbury "will play himself in the production, but will only appear in a few scenes" (, 8/19)....Former MLBer KENNY ROGERS has listed his 12,316-square-foot home in Westlake, Texas, for $14.68M (, 8/19)....Former NFLer JEFF GARCIA, who this month was named CFL Alouettes QB coach, has listed his 11,000-square-foot home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., for $7.75M (, 8/19).