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Volume 25 No. 129

People and Pop Culture

Big names for the premier included (l-r) Peter Nelson, Richard Plepler, Williams and Mark Shapiro

HBO hosted a couple hundred media types last night for the premiere of “BEING SERENA” at N.Y.'s Time Warner Center. HBO screened the series’ first two episodes, which follow tennis star SERENA WILLIAMS through her pregnancy and birth of her daughter. Future episodes in the five-part docu-series will detail Williams’ attempts to return to the WTA. Williams attended the event along with her husband, Reddit co-Founder ALEXIS OHANIAN, her 7-month-old daughter ALEXIS OLYMPIA and her sister VENUS. The guest list included sports media luminaries like Endeavor co-President MARK SHAPIRO, HBO Chair & CEO RICHARD PLEPLER, Endeavor Senior VP and Williams’ agent JILL SMOLLER and HBO Sports Exec VP PETER NELSON. Others in attendance included Vogue Editor in Chief ANNA WINTOUR, CNN's DON LEMON and models GIGI and BELLA HADID. N.Y.-based reporters on the scene included the author of the ESPN book “Those Guys Have All the Fun” JIM MILLER, the Wall Street Journal’s JASON GAY, Newsday’s NEIL BEST, Sporting News’ MICHAEL MCCARTHY and Multichannel News’ R. THOMAS UMSTEAD. The series, which is a co-production between HBO Sports and IMG Original Content Group, debuts on HBO May 2 (John Ourand, Staff Writer).

NO SLOWING DOWN: Williams promoted the series with an appearance last night on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” where host JIMMY FALLON noted fans "get to see a lot of you and the family." Fallon: "Did it take a lot of convincing to do?” Williams: “I actually wanted to do it. It started out as my idea, what I wanted to do to just give to my daughter later on in life." Fallon: “We get to see a side of you that we normally really don't get to see.” Williams: “Normally, you see me on the tennis court grunting, being angry, doing angry things every now and then, but this is different. This is me.” Williams said despite being a new mom, she is "going to play" the French Open (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 4/25).

"Going Off The Grid" is a weekly survey of sports execs and personalities offering their thoughts on a handful of pressing (and trivial) issues in sports and pop culture. This week, our panelists discuss their most memorable NFL Draft moments and sports venues they still need to visit.

  • NHRA VP, Exec Producer & Chief Content Officer Ken Adelson
    -- Is interested in how social media brings the world closer together.
  • NYCFC VP/Ticket Sales & Fan Services Mike Quarino
    -- Loves watching "Seinfeld."
  • Learfield VP/Talent Acquisition & Multi-Media Rights Megan Eisenhard
    -- Relies on her colleagues to keep her knowledgeable on pop culture.
Going Off The Grid
  Sports venue still on your bucket list
Most memorable NFL Draft moment? What will you do on May 29 when Starbucks isn't open? The NFL moving primetime games earlier is _____ NBA or NHL playoffs?

Lambeau Field 1965 when the Cardinals drafted Joe Namath but couldn't sign him. The rest is history Go to Dunkin' Donuts Rough on west coast viewers NBA

Wrigley Field When fellow Trenton, N.J., native Troy Vincent got drafted by my childhood team -- the Dolphins Double up on coffee at home in the morning Smart Stanley Cup Playoffs

Winthrop Univ. to watch my niece play volleyball Aaron Rodgers in the green room -- agonizing for Cal fans Hit up a local coffee shop Awesome for parents of young kiddos who are exhausted at night! NBA

Do you want to get your thoughts in the Grid? If so, shoot an e-mail to

The NBA hired industry veteran MICHELE CARR as VP within the league's team marketing and business operations division. Carr comes to the NBA after spending the past three years working for the NFL's partnerships department as Group Managing Dir. She begins her new job Monday and reports to NBA President of Team Marketing & Business Operations and Chief Innovation Officer AMY BROOKS. Carr, a '15 SBJ Game Changers honoree, will oversee the NBA's team sponsorship development group, which is responsible for helping team's grow sponsorship revenue. She replaces BRANDON SNOW, who left the league last month to become Chief Revenue Officer of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. No search firms were used in filling the job (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).

EXECS: Eastern Washington Univ. named interim AD LYNN HICKEY to the full time position. Hickey has served as interim AD since February. Before coming to EWU, Hickey served as USTA AD for 18 years (EWU)....Tennis Channel named IRV SCHULMAN Senior VP/National Sales Manager, CHRISTINA TESAURO Account Exec and MARISUSAN TROUT VP/Sales & Brand Integrations (CABLEFAX DAILY, 4/26)....Churchill Downs Inc. elected Louisville-based Sterling G. Thompson Company Chair ALEX RANKIN as Chair of its BOD. Rankin succeeds WATTS HUMPHREY, who "did not stand for re-election." The company also elected KAROLE LLOYD and Churchill Downs CEO WILLIAM CARSTANJEN as Class 1 Dirs, "serving a term of three years" (, 4/25).

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Ready to make your next great hire? Or take the next step in your career? Connect with the industry’s top employers and job seekers on the Sports Business Career Link. For more information, contact Megi Beqiraj at 212-500-0705, or

Harmon appreciates that Patriots ownership encourages him to do good in the community

Patriots Ss DURON HARMON and DEVIN MCCOURTY "spoke as members of the Players Coalition" yesterday at Walpole High School in Massachusetts with Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT and President JONATHAN KRAFT. The panel "addressed the importance and urgency of prioritizing proper training and the screening of teachers to alleviate some of the racial tension in classrooms across the nation." McCourty and Harmon believe it is their "duty to speak out on such issues and they appreciate that the Krafts encourage them to voice their opinions" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/26).

EMBRACING RETIREMENT: DALE EARNHARDT JR. "revealed an upcoming book about his experiences with concussions" called "RACING TO THE FINISH: MY STORY." The book is "co-written by ESPN's RYAN MCGEE" and is scheduled to be published Oct. 16 (, 4/25). Meanwhile, a "premiere date has been set" for June 2 at 9:00pm ET for Earnhardt's home renovation series "RENOVATION REALTIES: DALE JR. & AMY" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/26).

NAMES: The Gene and Jerry Jones Arlington Youth Foundation, NFL Foundation and Hellas Construction donated $1.85M to Arlington ISD to "replace the grass at Workman Junior High School with a synthetic turf surface, and to replace lights and the scoreboard." The new field was "officially unveiled as the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Field" (, 4/25). NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL and Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES were sitting "side-by-side" at the event (AP, 4/25)....Packers WR RANDALL COBB "visited patients" at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin as part of an "effort to highlight organ, eye and tissue donation" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 4/26)....Circuit of the Americas announced that BRUNO MARS and BRITNEY SPEARS will headline its F1 weekend in October. Mars "will play the COTA Super Stage on Saturday, Oct. 20, after qualifying rounds, and Spears will be the big Sunday, Oct. 21, headliner after the race" (, 4/25)....Astros P JUSTIN VERLANDER "was sitting courtside" with his wife, KATE UPTON, at the Rockets-T'Wolves playoff game last night at Toyota Center (, 4/25).

With the food and beverage business at sports facilities more important today than at any time, we look at how the business model is changing for teams and venue operators. We examine how sports properties approach feeding their fans — from using locally sourced ingredients to bringing in signature dishes from area restaurants — and how that affects the bottom line.

Publishing Date: May 14

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Materials Due: May 2

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