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HBO Serves Up More Women's Coverage

June 19, 1998|LARRY STEWART

Golf dominates this weekend's TV fare--NBC has most of the U.S. Open coverage, and there are 5 1/2 hours on ESPN today--but tennis soon moves into the spotlight.

More specifically, women's tennis.

Wimbledon begins Monday, and Ross Greenburg, HBO executive producer, said the pay-cable network's early-morning weekday coverage will devote more time to the women's matches.

HBO commentator Billie Jean King said she has been telling Greenburg for years that there is more interest in the women.

This year, she finally convinced him.

Said King: "Women's tennis is currently in the best shape it has ever been in its history."

For those yearning for the good old days of men's tennis, there is the Challenge senior tournament on CBS this weekend from the Palisades Club in Newport Beach. It features John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Yannick Noah and Bjorn Borg. Matches will be shown, delayed, at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.


The NBA finals were a ratings success for NBC--the 22.3 for Game 6 was the highest ever for an NBA game--but not a critical one. An unlikely target for critics across the country was Bob Costas, who generally gets only acclaim.

The problem with Costas is that he hasn't done basketball since his Spirit of St. Louis days in the '70s. His style is more suited to baseball and he seemed out of place on basketball.

But give Costas credit for filling time with an off-the-top-of-his-head essay before NBC signed off Sunday night.


The Pro Bowlers Assn., which is making its annual tour stop in Lakewood for the AC Delco Classic this week, has undergone a make-over.

The PBA has gone from ABC to CBS and no longer do we get Chris Schenkel whispering into a microphone while a small crowd watches quietly. Gary Seibel and Marshall Holman call the action among cheering fans. And to help spruce things up, the pins are painted gold and weigh four ounces more than the old, standard ones.

The idea behind the changes was to get the sport's image out of the gutter and appeal more to the MTV crowd than the Lawrence Welk crowd.

Saturday's final will be on Channel 2 at noon.


Channel 9, which recently won a local Emmy for its boxing coverage, offers another attractive Las Vegas fight card Saturday night at 8, featuring Juan Manuel Marquez against Juan Gerardo Cabrera. The card is also being shown nationally on USSB as a pay-per-view event. . . . To generate some interest in its Julio Cesar Chavez-Ken Sigurani pay-per-view fight next Thursday in Mashantucket, Conn., Top Rank announced that Chavez can earn a $250,000 bonus with a knockout. Chavez must get past Sigurani in order to fight Oscar De La Hoya on Sept. 25 in Las Vegas.


CBS has hired ESPN's Bonnie Bernstein as a reporter for its "NFL Today" program and named Tim Brando as host of its "College Football Today" show. Brando replaces Jim Nantz, who moved over to "NFL Today." . . . CBS opens its college football season Sept. 5 with Ohio State at West Virginia at 5 p.m. CBS has UCLA-Miami on Sept. 26. Sean McDonough and Terry Donahue return as CBS' No. 1 announcing team. . . . NBC has named Ken Schanzer as president of sports while naming Dick Ebersol chairman. Schanzer, former executive vice president of sports, will still report to Ebersol, who is also chairman of the new Olympics division.

Channel 9 and the Lakers have a new agreement that runs through the 2004-2005 season. . . . Channel 9 televises the first of its two Sparks games Sunday at 6:30 p.m., when the Sparks play at Houston. Chick Hearn is doing the play by play, which should be interesting.

The recent ceremony in which Shaquille O'Neal donated $1 million for the establishment of technology centers at Boys & Girl Clubs nationwide will be part of Saturday's "NBA Inside Stuff" show on Channel 4 at 10:30 a.m. . . . Reggie Miller begins his role as a WNBA commentator for Lifetime when it televises the Washington Mystics and Utah Starzz today at 5 p.m.

Julie Foudy, who has been excelling as the in-studio commentator for ESPN during the World Cup, is co-captain of the U.S. women's national soccer team. She was a four-time All-American at Stanford, and her career at Mission Viejo High earned her honors as The Times' soccer player of the decade. . . . Ben Wright returns to television in a couple of weeks on the new syndicated show, "Golf 2000 With Peter Jacobsen."


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