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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO

Fox Producer Is Turning Back the Clock

August 18, 2000|LARRY STEWART

The person on the phone was ranting. Fortunately, it wasn't Dennis Miller, so Al Michaels wasn't needed to explain the rant.

The voice on the phone belonged to Michael Weisman, the former NBC Sports executive producer who is now the lead baseball producer for Fox. It was easy to understand his rant.

He believes it's an injustice that legendary NBC baseball director Harry Coyle isn't in the writers' and broadcasters' wing of the baseball Hall of Fame.

Now he sees an opportunity to do something about it.

David Hill, the head of Fox Sports, went to Weisman with an idea. How about commemorating the first baseball telecast by showing the television innovations that have come about over the years?

Hill decided it should be done on the anniversary of the first baseball telecast--a Dodger-Cincinnati Reds game at Brooklyn's Ebbetts Field on Aug. 26, 1939.

So on Aug. 26, for a Dodger-Chicago Cub game at Wrigley Field, the plan is to start with two stationary black-and-white cameras and one announcer and bring in a new innovation every inning or half-inning.

Commentator Tim McCarver won't join play-by-play announcer Joe Buck until probably the fifth inning. The telecast will go from back-and-white to color, and replays won't be used in the early innings. Innovations such as super-slow mo, miked managers and catcher cam won't be used until the eighth or ninth inning.

Each inning will be introduced by host Keith Olbermann, who will be dressed in period attire.

Weisman says the telecast will showcase Coyle, his idol and mentor who started at NBC in 1947 and directed almost every World Series telecast until he retired after the 1989 season. Coyle died in 1996 at the age of 74 of a heart attack.

"Harry was responsible for just about every TV baseball innovation there was until he retired," Weisman said. "He is responsible for shaping so many of our baseball memories.

"Not to degrade any writer or broadcaster, but no one in that wing of the Hall of Fame has contributed more to baseball than Harry Coyle."

John Filippelli, another Coyle disciple who is now the executive producer of ABC Sports, once said: "Next to Babe Ruth, I don't think there's been a more significant figure in the history of baseball than Harry Coyle. He gave us the blueprint for baseball TV coverage."

If Coyle makes it into the Hall of Fame, it will be ironic that Fox, not NBC, could be responsible.

HOW ABOUT O'MALLEY?

Maybe you heard Vin Scully do a little ranting last week. Scully worked with Coyle when he was at NBC and is also a booster, but the person Scully was ranting about was Walter O'Malley.

On Aug. 9, the anniversary of the Dodger owner's death in 1979 at age 75, Scully delivered an impassioned on-air argument that O'Malley belongs in the regular Hall of Fame. He cited Eastern bias as the reason for O'Malley's omission. There are still writers who have never forgiven O'Malley for moving the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.

RADIO DAZE

Miller is still turning down interview requests, but a One-On-One radio network producer reached him Tuesday morning in his hotel room in Nashville and Miller went on the air with hosts Jay Mariotti and Jim Litke. "I'm just staying out of the way," Miller said. "I'll let America judge. I've been staying away from newspapers and talk radio." He also said that before the Hall of Fame game he had attended only one NFL game in his life. . . . Kevin Malone wasn't hiding Thursday, the day The Times' Bill Plaschke took the Dodger general manager to task. Malone went on with Jim Rome and was gracious under fire. "Mr. Plaschke told me last night that I make the big bucks and I have to take the criticism and I understand that," Malone said. As for who's to blame, Malone said, "We win as a team, we lose as a team."

The Fox radio network is scheduled to launch

Aug. 28. It will feature Tony Bruno in the morning, then Rome's show, Jeanne Zelasko and Kevin Frazier from noon to 2 p.m., Chris Myers and Steve Lyons from 2-4 p.m., New Yorker Bob Page from 5-8 p.m. and the former KMAX team of Bob Golic and Rich Herrera from 8-11 p.m. But what shows will be heard here and on what station have not been worked out. There is a separate weekend lineup, including a wrestling show on Sundays, 7-9 p.m. KXTA (1150), or possibly KLAC (570), may carry some of the programming. KXTA and KLAC are on the verge of becoming sister stations. . . . Pacific West Sports, owned by L.A. Avenger announcers Larry Kahn and Mike Lamb, have bought the radio rights to the next three Arena Bowls, beginning with Sunday's 10 a.m. game. It will be carried by KRLA (1110), with Kahn and Lamb announcing. . . . Julie Browman of XTRA (690) is leaving the station to become a sports anchor and reporter for San Diego's Channel 10.

SHORT WAVES

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