Archive for the ‘television’ Tag

Terry Bradshaw: New Books Network Podcast

I discussed my book Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality with Bob D’Angleo, a sports reporter, on the New Book Network a few days ago. The discussion ranged from his playing days with the Pittsburgh Steelers to acting in Burt Reynolds movies, to his efforts today as a studio analyst with Fox and also in the television shows, Better Late Than Never and his latest movie, Father Figures.

Here is the link:

http://newbooksnetwork.com/brett-l-abrams-terry-bradshaw-from-super-bowl-champion-to-television-personality-rowman-and-littlefield-2017/

 

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Locker Rooms and Sexual Harassment: 90s Style

The recent spate of announcements regarding sexual harassment has been amazing. We may not have been surprised by the harassment in Hollywood with its “casting couch” history.We aren’t surprised about these activities in sports, we can’t be surprised about this occurring in the halls of media organizations either. One incident from the long history of harassment appears in my book, Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality.

Fewer than three months into their jobs and co-anchors of CBS’ The NFL Today Pregame show, Terry Bradshaw and Greg Gumbel faced a major incident. Five New England Patriots players had told crude jokes and two fondled their genitals as Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson was covering their locker room after a Monday Night Football game in mid-September 1990. Olson issued a complaint.

Then Patriots owner Victor Kiam, of Gillette Razor fame made things worse. Kiam had a brief exchange with the reporter in the locker room the following week. He turned to a member of his entourage who was standing by his side and said sotto voce, “She’s a classic bitch. No wonder the players don’t like her.” Patriots’ fans piled on, showering her with obscenities and vile suggestions and statements as “If you want
to go into the men’s locker room, you get what you deserve.”

The case of Melissa Ludtke v. Bowie Kuhn, in 1978, had opened the doors, literally, for female reporters. The ruling determined that keeping the Sports Illustrated reporter out of the New York Yankees’ locker room during the 1977 World Series deprived her of the equal opportunity to pursue her profession. The NFL did not enact an equal access policy until 1985. Female sportswriters faced frequent discrimination, harassment, and fraternity-type pranks like wet towels being whipped against their behinds as they waded through the male athletes to reach the person they wanted to interview.

How would Bradshaw and Gumbel address the explosive situation? A Dayton sportswriter described Patriots fans as Puritans.
The abuse they directed toward Olson betrayed their male chauvinism, which basically said, “You are a woman; know your place.” In contrast, NBC’s pregame analyst Will McDonough rushed a quick response to the incident and claimed Olson “exaggerated her story.”

The CBS pregame show made Leslie Visser the lead in the discussions on the issue. Bradshaw described how he thought the public saw the issue, contending, “We can be as lenient and we can be as accepting to the opposite sex all we want to. But there comes an area where a man just absolutely closes his mind up and says no.” Mary Carillo, analyst for women’s and men’s tennis on CBS and ESPN, responded, “I think
that’s valid, a very valid point. Football always has been perceived as a male domain. Tennis isn’t like that—(John) McEnroe and (Ivan) Lendl
know I have the same skills, so it isn’t a stretch.”

Cathy Barreto who became the first female director for NFL games in the late 1980s, argued for female announcers in football. She thought
that for a female announcer to be accepted, “it’s going to have to be a recurring thing—not just once in a while. . . . Really no different than a
man—except people aren’t used to it.”

Bradshaw recalled growing up in Shreveport and witnessing the slow dissolution of racial segregation, another instance where people needed to get used to change. He listened to women analyze golf on television and accepted them because he learned from them. “I’m looking for knowledge. I don’t care what the sex is,” he said.

Nearly 30 years of past since this incident. The culture has only recently began fleshing out incidents of sexual harassment. Women broadcasters do not regularly in the broadcast booth for football. There is one woman appearing along the sidelines as a reporter but no more than one. ESPN did add one woman to their broadcast booth for major league baseball. As Carillo’s comment suggested, sports still seek an name athlete in the sport to appear in the broadcast booth as a color commentator. But broadcast booths can be expanded as ESPN has done to add a woman, and women can also be given more opportunities as play-by-play announcers. First, the sexism, both overt with the harassment, and covert, with hiring tendencies, needs to be contained then eliminated.

Tough Being A Fan

Although athletes have to play the sport, putting their physical and mental prowess on the line, fans have it tougher. All I fan can do is watch, helplessly. It can be grinding on a person and fandom has been known to set some people off to do stupid, sometimes criminal, things.

At the US Open, I felt that agony. Am a big fan of Novak Djokovic, and from what I see, I believe that I like him as a person as much as an athlete. But today’s loss disrupted my support. If the sport were boxing, my first question would be who bet on his opponent. The play stunk and the commentators on television provided little insight. They praised Kei Nishikori, and that was appropriate some of the time, but often Novak hit shots that Kei could make into winners.

iI don’t want the commentators to drag a player through the mud but they could have stated the honest truth, Djokovic played inconsistently. My main question would be, how could Djokovic dominate a set like he did in the second set, then not exploit that in the next set?

Yes, Djokovic said, “He was not himself today,” and that happens sometimes. I still wonder where his fight was, particularly after watching Roger Federer come back from two sets down to win two night ago. I also can understand when someone says that the sport will not be their main focus in life. That is a nice position to be in, as most people don’t care for their work and only work so that they can afford to live. Yet when it comes to winning one of the top tournaments in your sport, a fan expects the player to leave it all out on the court/field, and if a fan questions that, that disrupts the feeling of fan support.

National Football League Violence

Like several people I know, I taped the documentary on the NFL and its concussion issue that aired on PBS’s superior program Frontline. This excellent journalism made one think about the violence inherent in the sport, the issue of parenting and allowing your child to play a game that could not only harm his development but play a role in an early death. It also made me think about boxing and how many fighters knew what the sport was doing to their body and mind but they were poor and saw no better way out of their poverty.

One interesting take came from a long-time sportswriter:

For too long, sports journalists glossed over football’s violence. I was one of them.

John McDonnell/The Washington Post – Washington’s quarterback Robert Griffin III on the ground after getting a concussion in the 3rd quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at FedEx Field in October 2012.

By

Leonard Shapiro is a retired sportswriter, editor and columnist at The Washington Post.

Early in the 1977 NFL season, after Washington Redskins running back Bob Brunet suffered a serious neck contusion when the knee of Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Randy White hit him in the helmet, I visited him at Georgetown University Hospital.

Brunet, who grew up poor in Louisiana’s Cajun country, was playing at a time when the average NFL salary was about $55,000 a year. I asked him that evening if the hit, which could have left him permanently paralyzed — it did end his career — had in any way made him rethink his decision to play professional football.

Absolutely not, he said.“You’re damned right I’d do it all over again,” he told me at the time. “I was a poor kid from the backwoods of Louisiana, and now I’ve given my wife and kids security for the rest of their lives. I know I’m going to have problems from football. But I accept that. I have no regrets. None whatsoever.”The game had allowed him to graduate from Louisiana Tech, earn a good living and escape the destitution of his native Lafourche Parish. After football, he moved to Baton Rouge, opened a successful seafood restaurant — the Galley — and raised his family. Most former players I’ve spoken to over the years view their playing days in the same way.I covered the NFL over four decades dating back to 1972. Now semi-retired myself and five years removed from day-to-day football coverage, I have one main regret: not focusing more of my reporting and writing on the absolute brutality of the sport, particularly the painful post-football lives of so many players.

Instead, like many other sports journalists, I spent much of my career writing positive pieces about the league and its players — puffy features and breathless accounts of thrilling victories and agonizing defeats. I certainly covered my share of serious NFL warts: mounting injuries; the use of steroids and amphetamines; team doctors prescribing far too many painkilling pills and injections; the derogatory Redskins name; and, for many years, the dearth of African American quarterbacks, head coaches and ­front-office personnel. But until the past decade or so, most of us glossed over the brutality of the sport. Shame on us.

Some believe that a CBS documentary, “The Violent World of Sam Huff,” first aired in 1960, may have sparked the popularity of professional football. Huff was a celebrated New York Giants linebacker halfway through a Hall of Fame career at the time, and the documentary gave viewers an up-close look at the sound and fury of the pro game, using mini-microphones to pick up trash talk and the high-decibel thump of body against body, helmet against helmet.

Half a century later, a highlight-driven sports culture, fueled by ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and YouTube clips, has increased the emphasis on Big Hits — the wicked shots heard ’round the football world.

“I think that may have been true six to eight years ago,” ESPN coordinating producer Dwayne Bray said of this culture during a public forum in August on violence in the game. “I think we’ve been very restrained on the issue. If there are hard hits, we report the news. . . . I think even as the NFL and the parents are being educated, ESPN and other media entities are being educated.”

Surely sports television plays up the contact of the game. Certainly, the stations and the league are aware of the money that is tied to keeping the game entertaining and exciting to the most people that they can.

Romney’s Tax Returns

MSNBC, Current Television all talk endlessly about Mitt Romney and his releasing only 1 full year and 1 year of projected taxes. The major claim is that every other Presidential candidate has released their returns since 1968 so Romney should also. Seems reasonable. These liberal bent stations tell us that not releasing the information is hurting Romney.

Does the American public care? Apparently, the public is evenly divided with 51% saying it is not something that they need to see. When you divide up the public, liberals are most interested and conservatives are the least concerned. Interestingly, people with lower salaries and younger votes both support the release of the Romney taxes.

 

Columnist Colby King raised this point today in his editorial. It’s not enough for Romney to say he’s paid all taxes that are “legally required.” A person who wants to be president should also be able to say, and to demonstrate, that no ethical lines have been crossed.

The best part of his piece is the succinct explaination for what could be hidden in his tax returns.

Was Romney’s income that was placed in a Swiss bank account reported on his earlier tax returns?

How did Romney’s IRA grow so large (to $100 million) when he could only put in $30,000 over any single year?

Did Romney report and pay gift tax on the funding of these trusts,” or might he have claimed “unreasonable valuations” that “would have exposed him to serious penalties if all the facts were known?”

All of these things raise questions about ethics and legal actions. All US citizens should be following the law when filing taxes; no special deals for the rich. This is especially true for a man who is running to be the person in charge of upholding all US and most international laws as the US President.

Overpriced Seats at Stadiums

For years many of us have wondered, who could afford to buy the best seats at the new stadiums. Yes, corporations can buy some, but they usually like the suites in the middle tier of the stadium or arena. Some celebrities and wealthy buy court seats or sit behind the dugouts, but they make up a small number of the population. There are many seats that are empty and everyone can see this on television.

Here’s an article that challenges announcers to mention this fact:

We must be seeing things. Rather, we must not be seeing things.

The public used to rely on the media to fight for it, to go to bat for the bat-less. Not so much anymore. Most in the news take their corporate orders — real, tacit and imagined — or make themselves available to be bought and sold to multiple masters, restricting what they would otherwise report.

Thus, ugly, smack-you-in-the-senses realities go ignored. Worse, on TV, we’re often told to ignore what we see and instead believe what we’re told.

While we understand that local broadcasters are frightened to tell certain here-and-now truths about the teams that employ them, MLB’s national networks have no such restrictions.

SOMETHING FISHY: Shortstop Jose Reyes swings in front of prime empty seats at Marlins Park — but don’t expect baseball’s TV announcers to comment on this epidemic.

GETTY IMAGES
SOMETHING FISHY: Shortstop Jose Reyes swings in front of prime empty seats at Marlins Park — but don’t expect baseball’s TV announcers to comment on this epidemic.

Heck, for the billions paid to MLB in rights, ESPN, Fox and TBS should insist that their announcers speak all truths. What’s MLB going to do about it, not cash their checks? Forbid them from bidding next time?

In other words, ESPN, Fox and TBS might have — could have and should have — spent the last four seasons hammering a point so embarrassing to MLB that it might have shamed teams and Bud Selig to exact greater-good changes.

Specifically, the best seats in new parks — those most often in view throughout telecasts — are so over-priced that they’re going empty, greed-wasted. After all, these are ballparks where ballgames of pre-undetermined value are played; they’re not destination resorts.

Over the weekend, the Mets played the Marlins in Miami’s new, climate-controlled stadium. The Marlins were returning from an 8-1 road trip.

Yet, clearly visible during Friday night’s telecast on SNY and throughout Fox’s on Saturday afternoon, many of the best seats — hundreds, if not thousands, behind the backstop and along the infield lines — went unoccupied.

On Fox, not only didn’t play-by-player Rich Waltz and analyst Tim McCarver seem to notice, they seemed to think that we didn’t either. In fact, they seemed to see people where we saw none.

“Another big crowd here, on a Saturday afternoon” said Waltz, after applauding the new park.

“They built it here in Miami,” said McCarver, “and they have come.”

The biggest big ticket for Marlins home games is $250, dirt cheap by Yankee Stadium standards, yet still illogically expensive to watch any baseball game. The family of four, with eats, drinks, travel and parking, is reaching for over $1,000 to attend a game.

No thanks, they’ll sit upstairs, or at least outside the Yankee Stadium-type moat that separates and designates — a financial caste seating system. Above and beyond such seats is where crowds now begin to gather.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/more_sports/sitting_bull_7rhr6FExiZXV9aXBSd3zcM#ixzz1vE1uvrNO

Popular Culture Conference 2011

In San Antonio near the Alamo to see professors from all over the world talk about everything from Buffy the vampire slayer to fat studies, masculinity, and sexuality.

Did my presentation on the old basketball team the Washington Capitols and their inability to remain in the NBA. The small group had a discussion about fans, team identities, the media as a Greek chorus telling us about how the game is being played, who the heros and villans are etc.

Liked a talk about Glee and the idea of television musicals. Cops Rock and another show in the 1990s failed probably becuase it all was too unfamilar to viewers but Glee counters that by choosing well known songs.

Antoher good talk about Billy Elliott and its use of the community to allow Billy to succeed as a dancer. Liked to hear more about collections at university librariesand another about the sexual fantasies of males in three popular movies.

World Television

Ever wonder what programs other countries enjoy on television? What makes a nation’s shows unique or particular to England, France, Germany, Brazil?

INPUT-tv is in Washington, DC this week hosting evenings of teleivsion from countries around the world.  The Film series, Best of INPUT 2010 shows the winners from the conference the international public television group held last year.

These provacative programs started with a documentary done from the perspective of the rabbits living behind the Berlin Wall. This funny and insightful look, nominated for an Oscar, featured the rabbits who found a peaceful home in the so-called “death strip” along the wall surrounding West Berlin. Without any suspicion, they tell of a heavenly life in the midst of lush greenery and with virtually no enemies, well protected by an impenetrable wall.

Tuesday is a Swiss program called Taboo.

Wednesday at the American Film Institute are two looks at native peoples. One features Ecuador, the other Australia.

Thursday is at the Goethe-Institut Washington and features television from Brazil. A comedy, an adventure show and a game show.

Is So You Think You Can Dance Declining?

Some friends are not watching the series this season. I have started to lose my interest in the show. The number of comments on blogs are down.

Is it like American Idol, where I’m seeing a noticeable decline in talent? I would say not. This year’s dancers, particularly Lauren, Robert, Adecheke are all powerful and elegant dancers.

No, SYTYCD is suffering from another of the factors that hurt American Idol: the changes in judges.

Fans have complained about the judging from the start of this season. The comments for the Final Four show are no different.  On the discussion, What’s with the judges the comments range from offering contradictory advice to a dancer to Mia being racist. Other people that I work with raised the latter as a consideration a few weeks ago when Mia found herself needing to offer a lame apology.

Mia is a bad judge to have on the show on a weekly basis. She is better to take in small doses. She has a favorites and dancers that she does not like and she can not stop herself from basing her opinions on how she feels about the dancer.

Mary Murphy was sometimes annoying with her yell but she was also much more good hearted than Mia could ever be. Mary was also better for the ratings.

I understand the producers thinking that the show needed to change in order to stay fresh. I think that they accomplished this with using all-stars as dancing partners. I hope that they reconsider bringing back a rotating judge for the panel in order to keep the juding perspectives fresh.

Best of Year, Best of Decade Lists

Why do we love lists? Is it some gene for categorization? Is it the thrill of controlling circumstances? Is it our belief ion the innate ability of reviewers and critics and experts?

What do you enjoy about best of lists?

While it is probably all of these factors, I know why I enjoyed looking at the lists for best of the decade in today’s Washington Post. I wanted to see how many of the movies or television shows I saw, how many of the music listed I owned and whether I have been to see the best theater, dance, concerts and art shows over the past decade. The feeling is confirmation in our choices.

I read the lists for theater, concerts and dance. I’d seen some of them. All took place within Washington, DC so I had the chance to see them. Then I looked at the art best of list. Damn, there were shows in New York City, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney. It’s only five hours away, so I thought maybe I could have  seen it.

Then I read further. Chicago, mmm, that’s stretching it. Wow, Kessel,  Germany, Parma, Italy, this is ridiculous.  Why are these on this list? It’s not like a person can go out and by a tape of the show and experience it.

Should best of lists include activities that are way out of the range of the ordinary person to experience?

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