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Volume 6 No. 217

People and Pop Culture

U.S. film director RON HOWARD "visited Madrid for a few hours on Wednesday," to talk about his soon-to-be-released film about the '76 F1 season, according to Héctor Martínez of AS. Howard, who directed "Rush," a movie to be released in September about the '76 F1 season and the competition that season between drivers JAMES HUNT and NIKI LAUDA, played by CHRIS HEMSWORTH and DANIEL BRÜHL, respectively, discussed his connection to F1 and his thoughts on the sport's current stars. The following is an excerpt from the Q&A:

Q: Were you already a fan of F1 or did you become a fan of it while making this movie?
Ron Howard: I was not much a fan of motorsports, I was more into baseball and basketball. But I like the drama and you tend to have many doses of drama in sports. Especially in F1, I believe it makes for something that is very attractive in terms of cinematography. The sound of the races, for example, the speed. This is one of the reasons that F1 is so fascinating on TV, because there are many good camera angles.

Q: Speaking of sounds, watching the movie, the seat trembles when the motors start. Why?
Howard: Of course, of course. Because the first thing you notice when you go to a race is the sound, even before you see the cars. This is my experience and it is what I wanted to offer to the viewers.

Q: As a U.S. director, people would expect a movie about IndyCar, but you chose F1. Why?
Howard: It is not so much for F1 in itself, but for the characters. They [Hunt and Lauda] are two passionate people with great personalities, and so different from each other. Each one has an interesting story and when they combine, when you show the rivalry, Wow! I also wanted to show the danger of F1, especially in the '70s. All this together, this combination, makes the story very interesting.

Q: Could you make a movie today with drivers that sometimes think 10 seconds before every phase to be politically correct?
Howard: The '70s were a more dangerous era, with more freedom, and I wanted to show this. ... James Hunt and Niki Lauda were famous for not deceiving anyone, for telling the truth. It really did not matter to them what people thought. I believe that today there are notable stories and interesting drivers with charm. What happens is we do not have perspective. We see the races, but we should consider their complete development. But yes, within 20 years it would not surprise me if there is a movie about drivers like [Ferrari's Fernando] Alonso and [Mercedes' Lewis] Hamilton.

Q: Lauda's and Hunt's cars in the movie, were they real bodies, real engines, or both?
Howard: Both. We had the real cars for both. The owners of these historic F1s let us use them. These cars are worth millions. The owners liked the story that we were telling so they let us use them. However, they did not allow other people to drive them, not even the specialists (AS, 8/21).

NBA Int'l President HEIDI UEBERROTH announced Wednesday that she will leave her job at the end of the year after nearly two decades with the league. Ueberroth, who has held her current position since '09, said she began to seriously consider leaving the league after the NBA Finals ended in June. Ueberroth said, "Looking around the table as we were doing business planning and knowing that the business was in terrific shape, combined with some approaches to me and having a chance to explore those fully, it seemed the right time. It felt like the right time to take on a more entrepreneurial role and ownership type role." Ueberroth said she does not yet have any specific future plans. After her departure, she will continue to consult with the league. Ueberroth: "The fun part for me is to have the luxury to have some time to take the next step. We have a hugely talented team and it is the perfect time to look at new opportunities" (John Lombardo, Staff Writer). In New York, Sara Germano noted Ueberroth was "instrumental" in developing NBA China, recently valued at $2.3B, and "oversees 150 employees in four offices across greater China." She also "formed partnerships with overseas social networks, including Sina and Tencent Weibo, as part of her grass roots growth strategy." Her departure "raises questions about whether a glass ceiling exists for executive women in sports." Ueberroth, who is based in N.Y., said that she "spent about 50% of her time on the road, but that the travel wasn't nearly as arduous as managing the 12-hour-plus time difference with colleagues and clients in Asia" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/21).

Turkish state news channel TRT Haber said on Wednesday that Galatasaray coach FATIH TERIM has been "offered a four-year deal" by the Turkish Football Federation to replace ABDULLAH AVCI as national team coach. TFF Chair YILDIRIM DEMIRONEN has "proposed a plan which will allow the 59-year-old Terim to combine his coaching commitments with Galatasaray with that of the national side for the rest of the season." After that, Terim would be "expected to take charge of the national team on a full time basis" (REUTERS, 8/21). ... Rugby Canada on Tuesday announced that former NHL Toronto Maple Leafs GM BRIAN BURKE is joining its board of directors, "giving the former NHL executive a chance to get involved in what he calls his 'second favorite sport.'" Prior to his tenure with the Leafs, Burke served as a GM with the NHL's Hartford Whalers, Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks, winning a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in '07 (CBC, 8/20). ... The Japan Judo Federation has appointed SHOJI MUNEOKA as chairman after HARUKI UEMURA resigned "following a series of scandals." Muneoka was given the role Wednesday, "a week after Uemura stepped down to take responsibility for revelations in January" that he used violence against athletes at a training camp before the London 2012 Olympics (AP, 8/21). ... Former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff DAN HALUTZ was named chair of the Israel Basketball Association on Tuesday. The position has not been "filled since AVNER KOPEL resigned four months ago after the State Comptroller of Israel and the IBA's internal comptroller criticized his actions as chairman." Maccabi Tel Aviv Chair SHIMON MIZRAHI "took his place on an interim basis and is believed to also be behind the surprise appointment of Halutz" (JERUSALEM POST, 8/21). ... The WTA named MELISSA PINE WTA Championships tournament director. She will oversee the WTA's strategic planning and execution of the Championships in Singapore. Pine for the last two years has worked out of the WTA's London office, where she led all aspects of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul, coupled with the planning and operations of the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party (WTA). ... Thai Premier League side Chainat Manager SURACHAI JATURAPATTARAPONG has been appointed as head coach of the Thailand national football team "with his first mission being the Asian Cup qualifying match against Iran on Oct 15." Surachai will succeed German coach WINFRIED SCHÄFER (BANGKOK POST, 8/21).

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NBA Oklahoma Thunder player SERGE IBAKA on Wednesday traveled to his place of birth, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, to participate in Campus adidas Ibaka, which will take place from Monday through Wednesday. During his visit, "Ibaka will supervise projects in his hometown, including the construction of a multi-sport sport court for public use." Ibaka will also travel to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo to support the Kinbasketball Jam Session (EFE, 8/21). ... Trainers MANNY FERNANDES and NICK DURANDT "have buried the hatchet to jointly fight the SABC's TV boxing blackout." Arguably "the best technical trainers in the business," Fernandes and Durandt "are working in tandem to groom young fighters through BRD Promotions," which is owned by Fernandes's wife, SONJA (SOWETAN LIVE, 8/20). ... Discus thrower KRISHNA POONIA on Wednesday "rubbished allegations that she had lobbied for the prestigious Khel Ratna award," saying she was only raising her voice against the "injustice" meted out to her. Poonia: "I want to clarify that I was not doing any lobbying. Wrong has been done to me, and I was only raising my voice against that. That can't be called lobbying. It's wrong" (PTI, 8/21). ... Russia "has ruled out naturalizing" Cuban hurdler ORLANDO ORTEGA, who reportedly "deserted his team while the delegation was in Moscow for this month's world championships." Ortega, 22, "disappeared after failing to qualify for the final of the 110m hurdles at the world championships last week and didn’t return home." The Cuban Embassy "has appeared to confirm his disappearance, and his current whereabouts remain unknown." Russian Athletics Federation President VALENTIN BALAKHNICHEV said, "The Russian Athletics Federation is not interested in Ortega’s services as an athlete" (R-SPORT, 8/21). ... In what "appears to be a relationship turned sour," Team India's emerging cricketer VIRAT KOHLI "is now at loggerheads with his long-time sponsor Nike." The sports giant "has accused the Delhi batsman of breaching their endorsement contract" (INDIA TODAY, 8/21).

Australian pro surfer SALLY FITZGIBBONS: Getting called a softy for putting on my jet pack @quiksilverusa heated's sooo cold though…" (see picture)

Reuters' ALAN BALDWIN: "The FIA Thursday press conference has a decidedly French flavour. Perhaps they could throw in some bottles of rouge and a Camembert as well."

NBC F1 reporter WILL BUXTON: "And ALO leaving Ferrari? Give me a break. It's his natural home. No way would he go. No way would they let him go. #BeenWrongBefore"

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