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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO / LARRY STEWART

Money Is Prime Reason for Showdown

July 30, 1999|LARRY STEWART

It's on ABC Monday night, under the lights and on grass. Al Michaels and crew are primed.

Are you ready? Are you ready for some . . . golf?

Yes, prime-time golf--at least in the East. It's Tiger Woods vs. David Duval in the "Showdown at Sherwood," going head to head in match play.

Live coverage begins here at 5 p.m., after the golfers have played a couple of holes at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.

Lights have been installed on the 17th and 18th holes in case of darkness. Also, in case extra holes are needed.

This is a made-for-TV event that was made to make money. International Management Group (IMG), which handles Woods and Duval, created it and pitched it to ABC, which liked the idea of original summer programming.

"During the summer, people at home thirst for something new and this is high-quality, fresh programming," said Mike Tirico, who will call the event with Curtis Strange.

Michaels will serve as the host, and Judy Rankin also will be part of the announcing crew.

The winner will earn $1.1 million, the loser $400,000. To somewhat defuse charges of greed, each player will donate $200,000 to charity.

Still, the event has drawn some criticism. Peter Jacobsen has compared it to a World Wrestling Federation event.

Strange, addressing reporters on a conference call, said, "Now don't quote me, but since this is a media call I know you will . . . Peter Jacobsen should be the last guy to say anything, considering all the silly things he's involved in."

About other golfers who have grumbled, Strange said, "They're only grumbling because it doesn't include them."

Strange's take: "It's something special, it brings golf to viewers who would normally not watch on Saturday and Sunday."

The universal appeal of Woods is what made this event possible. "There are only two, three or four people who could carry this off, and it has to be Tiger and a second person," Strange said.

Will there be other one-on-one, prime-time events?

Said Tirico: "When you open a restaurant, like a chef, you put your best food out there and hope that people will gain an appetite and come back for more. If you put the two best golfers in the world in this format, and there is an appetite for it, there will be more."

DODGER BLACKOUT UPDATE

About 460,000 cable homes are currently not getting Dodger telecasts on Fox Sports West 2. The problem is Charter Communications and Fox Sports West haven't settled their dispute over an increased surcharge for additional Dodger telecasts.

Charter, which serves much of the San Gabriel Valley, also owns Marcus, which serves Burbank, Glendale and Whittier, and Falcon, which serves Malibu, Calabasas and Riverside.

"We continue to talk on a regular basis to try and resolve this matter," Fox Sports West spokesman Steve Webster said.

And when will it be resolved?

"It's difficult to say at this point," he said.

What was particularly disconcerting Sunday was, because of a technical problem, half an inning was shown, then the game was taken off.

Charter this week announced the public sale of stock worth $3.45 billion. In comparison, it seems clearing up this Fox Sports West 2 mess would be a small detail.

CLAUDIA TREJOS UPDATE

If the idea behind Channel 5 replacing Ed Arnold with Claudia Trejos was to increase ratings by attracting more Latino viewers, it's not working so far.

Channel 5's weekend sports segments in June, with Arnold, averaged a 3.6 rating with a 7 share. The average rating this month, with Trejos, is a 3.4 with a 5.

We're not criticizing Channel 5 for hiring a Latina--surely the L.A. sports scene could use some diversity. But why not hire someone who speaks better English?

A Spanish-language television station would not hire anyone whose Spanish is not the best.

When Prime Deportivo was created a few years back and planned to do local college football, Lupe Sanchez, a four-year starter and all-conference cornerback at UCLA who is glib and intelligent, was interviewed for the job as the Bruins' Spanish-language commentator.

Sanchez grew up in central California and Spanish was the primary language in his home, although his Spanish-speaking skills diminished over the years.

"I could speak Spanish, but I was given the impression I didn't speak it well enough to go on television," Sanchez said the other day.

SHORT WAVES

The Outdoor Life network put itself on the sports map Thursday by acquiring exclusive U.S. rights to the Tour de France beginning in 2001. It will provide daily coverage and will farm out additional weekday coverage to Fox Sports Net and weekend coverage to CBS. "This is truly a momentous occasion for Outdoor Life," founder Roger Werner said. . . . Marv Levy, former coach of the Buffalo Bills, has been hired by Fox Sports Net as an analyst for a new NFL pregame show that will be on Sundays at 8 a.m. this fall. He'll join Chris Myers and Jackie Slater. Levy will be used on "Fox Sports News," as he was Wednesday to talk about Barry Sanders.

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