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Volume 25 No. 28
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Alex Rodriguez To Host, Produce In-Depth Interview Series On ESPN

Rodriguez will do interviews with a current or former star athlete battling through some type of adversity
Photo: ESPN IMAGES

Alex Rodriguez will be the "host and executive producer of a new four-part series to air on ESPN and ESPN Deportes during the MLB regular season called 'Pivot with Alex Rodriguez,'" according to John Healy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Rodriguez will "conduct in-depth, one-on-one interviews with a current or former star athlete battling through some type of adversity." The interview "will be held in an environment relevant to each athlete's personal story." ESPN Deportes VP & GM Freddy Rolon said that Rodriguez is an "ideal choice to host the show because of his own past as well as success as a media personality." The show is "expected to air at some point this MLB season" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/16). USA TODAY's A.J. Perez notes in the two years since Rodriguez' playing days concluded with the Yankees, he has "ascended quickly in the broadcast ranks and changed his perception among many in the process" (USA TODAY, 5/16). In N.Y., Ethan Sears writes Rodriguez has "gone from baseball prodigy to pariah to the prodigal son, the legend apparently successfully returning to good graces" (N.Y. POST, 5/16). SNY's Sal Licata noted referenced the name of the show in saying, "If anybody knows how to pivot, it's Alex Rodriguez" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 5/15). Sporting News' Michael McCarthy tweeted, "What a turnaround. ... Remember when ESPN The Mag wouldn’t quote ARod in feature?" The Athletic's Richard Deitsch: "I remember when Alex Rodriguez accused SI reporter Selena Roberts of trying to break into his house. He did that on ESPN, where he now works." N.Y. Post's Andrew Marchand: "Maybe A-Rod could have Cano for his initial guest on his first ESPN special" (TWITTER.com, 5/15).

A NEW PLATFORM: ESPN yesterday announced Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre's new show will be called "High Noon (9 am Pacific)" and will begin June 4 (TWITTER.com, 5/15). GQ's Eve Ewing profiled Jones, who "offers something different: a nuanced look at sports, backed up by rigorous evidence and a refreshing willingness to admit mistakes." The fact that Jones "riles up the 'stick to sports' segment of ESPN’s viewership isn’t a coincidence." Jones "likes working in sports media for this reason: ESPN gives him a platform to talk about race and racism with a lot of people, people who would probably never otherwise listen to him." Torre sees Jones as a "singular voice amidst the noise when it comes to debates about race, and in the world of sports broadcasting more generally." Torre said, “It’s very obvious that there’s no one else like him" (GQ.com, 5/15).

MAKING THEIR CASE: In L.A., Stephen Battaglio notes ESPN "put its digital future on display" at its Upfront presentation yesterday. The emphasis on digital content was "meant to send a message" to advertisers that ESPN is "fighting its image on Wall Street as a poster child for a TV industry challenged by the erosion of cable and satellite subscriptions." Although ESPN has to "contend with the change in how consumers are choosing to get their video content, its presentation reminded advertisers that virtually all of its programming is live -- a commodity that is gaining value in the new TV landscape" (L.A. TIMES, 5/16). CNN MONEY's Pallotta & Garcia noted ESPN's Upfront was "all about the network's 'firsts.'" But "no 'first' was as important as the introduction" of new ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro. He "made it clear that while the network has new leadership, its mission will stay the same." Pitaro: "I'm not focused on my own personal legacy. I am very focused on the ESPN legacy" (MONEY.CNN.com, 5/15). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Marisa Guthrie wrote it is a "new day at ESPN." ESPN President of Global Sales & Marketing Ed Erhardt "wrapped up the presentation with a final pitch to buyers." He said that ESPN's live audience is the most “elusive and valuable in all of media, and we have it for you” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 5/15).