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Fox Won't Call Off Hounds for Dodgers

June 13, 1997|LARRY STEWART

As Vin Scully says, pull up a chair. Here's what the next three days offer:

* The legend of Michael Jordan, which continues tonight on NBC.

* The U.S. Open on ESPN and NBC today and on NBC all weekend.

* Oscar De La Hoya on HBO Saturday night.

* NASCAR on CBS from Michigan on Sunday, a week before the Fontana stop.

* Interleague play in baseball, which includes the Dodgers, after tonight's Channel 5 telecast from Oakland, playing in Seattle's Kingdome for the first time Saturday in a game that will be regionally televised by Fox.

That is the first of three consecutive Saturday Dodger telecasts on Fox.

With Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch negotiating to buy the Dodgers, it raises the question: Might there be

a tendency for Fox to sugarcoat some of the team's recent travails, such as Manager Bill Russell's dugout confrontations with two of his pitchers?

"There has been no instruction from anyone to tread softer," game producer Michael Weisman said. "We plan to show both of Russell's dugout confrontations. We plan to have our announcers [Thom Brennaman and Bob Brenly] address the fact that the Dodgers have been playing below expectations, and that there is a lack of unity and a lack of chemistry in the clubhouse. Fox absolutely has done nothing to tie our hands."

Ed Goren, Fox's executive producer of sports, also said Murdoch's negotiations with the Dodgers will not influence how the network covers the team. "We won't be firing the manager or making any major trades from the broadcast booth," Goren quipped.


Fox has an agreement with baseball that requires a team to allow the network to put a microphone on a player or coach. If a team does not go along with this, it faces a fine.

A couple of weeks ago, Fox put a microphone on reluctant New York Yankee Manager Joe Torre for a game shown in the East. That didn't turn out too well. A technician rewound a tape too far and an expletive went out over the air, something Torre wasn't too pleased about.

Fox took the blame for the mistake and apologized to all concerned.

Goren said Fox's agreement with baseball stipulates that anything picked up by the microphone that puts anyone in a bad light will not be broadcast. He said if Fox had been doing either the game in which Russell shoved Ismael Valdes out of the dugout or the one in which he had words with Pedro Astacio and Russell had been wearing a microphone, the confrontations would never have been used.

"That's not the purpose of miking a manager or coach," Goren said. "We do it simply to give the viewer at home more insight into what takes place on the field."

It's a delicate situation. Fox wants access, but if it is too intrusive or embarrasses anyone, who would ever agree to wear a microphone?

Saturday, Russell will not wear a microphone. Weisman, the former executive producer of NBC Sports, said that, after consulting with the Dodgers, it seemed to make more sense to have a microphone on pitching coach Dave Wallace. "We'll probably put a mike on Russell the following Saturday," Weisman said of the Dodger game that day at San Francisco.


Our vote for best show on television is "Arli$$," the madcap HBO comedy about fictitious sports agent Arliss Michaels, played by Robert Wuhl, who is also co-creator of the series that begins its second season Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

What sets this show apart is the stories aren't that far from the truth. Although Wuhl and co-creator Mike Tollin, who is also one of the executive producers, frequently talk to agents such as Dennis Gilbert of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, they say most of their ideas come from reading newspapers.

"You can't beat reality," Wuhl said.

Another appealing aspect of the show is the lineup of guests playing themselves. Ted Turner, in town to speak at a Hollywood Radio and Television Society luncheon today at the Beverly Hilton, was on the set Thursday to film an upcoming episode.

In an episode already taped, the Dodgers' Eric Karros goes after an obnoxious radio talk-show host played by Van Earl Wright, a takeoff on such confrontations as the one between Jim Everett and Jim Rome.


It was probably a good thing that the Detroit Red Wings wrapped up the Stanley Cup on ESPN last Saturday. The cable network stayed with the celebration, capturing all of the joy and the emotion without leaving even for a commercial break. It was reminiscent of the job ESPN did when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game streak. . . . Chris McCarron was scheduled to wear a jockeycam at the Belmont last Saturday, but after wearing it in an earlier race he told ABC it felt awkward. The camera might have provided some interesting shots of McCarron's winning ride aboard Touch Gold, but ABC said it would never risk influencing the outcome of a race.

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