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CBS and NBC Mad as Hell, Not Gonna Take It Anymore

December 04, 1987|Larry Stewart

The sports departments of NBC and CBS have been feuding for years. And it came to a head last Sunday when CBS announced that Lee Trevino had a hole-in-one in the Skins Game, an event that was to be shown, delayed, on NBC later in the day.

NBC called it "selective journalism," designed to spoil suspense.

So what's next?

Maybe NBC will announce the Heisman Trophy winner before the official announcement on CBS Saturday. NBC has already scheduled Notre Dame's Tim Brown as a guest for its "NFL Live" show Sunday morning.

Or how about this? Maybe CBS will announce the results of the World Pro Figure Skating Championships before the event, a repeat, is shown on NBC's "SportsWorld" Saturday.

It's all gotten to be a little absurd.

John Filippelli, the coordinating producer of NBC's "NFL Live," was quoted by USA Today as saying: "At the very least, on our postgame show Sunday, we're going to give away the ending of 'Murder, She Wrote.' "

Said Brent Musburger, who announced the Skins Game results on CBS: "If the Skins Game is so important, why wasn't it televised live. We'd never tape-delay the Masters or U.S. Open tennis."

Add feud: NBC delivered a blow to CBS on Thanksgiving Day when, after its morning NFL telecast, it stayed on the air with a sexy feature on cheerleaders. The result: NBC's postgame show got an overnight 10.5 rating, while CBS' "NFL Today," televised opposite it, got a 5.3.

One NBC official suggested that CBS was getting even Sunday. CBS, meanwhile, said it was just reporting the news. If fact, CBS said the news of Trevino's ace actually caused more people to watch.

As for NBC's side, it pointed out that CBS didn't announce Skins Game results in previous years. But then, there wasn't a hole-in-one in previous years.

At least, NBC said, CBS should have warned viewers that it was going to give the results.

Don Ohlmeyer, whose company produced the Skins Game for NBC, apparently wasn't upset at CBS. He told USA Today: "This started as a made-for-TV event. Now it's big enough for TV to report."

And the debate goes on.

More feuds: The Boston Globe recently ran an illustration of announcer Al Michaels, stamped "Handle With Care" and "Fragile." It accompanied a story by TV sports critic Jack Craig that indicated Michaels is thinned-skinned about criticism.

An excerpt from the story ran in The Times' Morning Briefing column this week, saying: "While few broadcasters bask in so much praise, none seems to more resent even rare criticism."

So, is Michaels, always one of the most cooperative and likable announcers in the business, turning into a whiner?

"I haven't changed, I really haven't," Michaels said when asked about the Globe story, which mentioned three recent disputes Michaels has had with the press. Two were with Minneapolis-area reporters during the World Series and one with a New York reporter regarding a "Monday Night Football" critique.

"I really don't want to get into this again," Michaels said. "I want to put it all behind me. I thought I was the victim of some unfair reporting.

"Honest, fair criticism is one thing, but gratuitous cheap-shotting, just writing for effect, is another."

Odd pairing: Marv Albert's "achievement awards," for the second straight year, will be coupled with a repeat showing of the World Pro Figure Skating Championships on NBC's "SportsWorld" Saturday.

Albert, sniping tongue-in-cheek at NBC programmers, said: "Obviously, our show is receiving the prominent exposure it deserves. We are truly honored. . . . We feel the skating show goes hand in hand with the concept of the Albert Achievement Awards.

"The Orange and Rose bowl committees had contacted us and asked to serve as a lead-in to our show, but we are loyal to the World Professional Figure Skating Championships."

Busing it: This season, John Madden isn't riding the rails; he's taking a bus, a $500,000 house on wheels with a dinette, a fully equipped kitchen, a wet bar, two beds and a large shower.

A bus company supplies the vehicle, plus two drivers, as part of a promotional deal. A payback is coming Sunday, when CBS features the bus during its NFL halftime shows.

Oops Dept.: Ed Sabol, founder of NFL Films, and son Steve, now the president of the company, were presented with the Eagles Fly for Leukemia Society's Bert Bell Memorial Award in Philadelphia the other night. Slight problem: Ed's name was left off the trophy and Steve's was inscribed twice.

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