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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO

Now It's Time for Miller to Get Real

September 01, 2000|LARRY STEWART

The practices are over and it's time to get down to serious business--or maybe serious comedy. Dennis Miller makes his "real" debut as an ABC commentator Monday night.

Miller says the hard part is over--having done three dull NFL exhibitions.

He also says he plans to "dial back" a little.

"I've learned the outer perimeter of how far I should go with whimsy," he said. "I think for those first three games, my thing was to keep my head above water.

"I feel like I have gotten to the point now where I can be judged in a more clear perspective."

Fair enough.

FROM THE COMPETITORS

Everyone seems to be talking about Miller.

Here's what Fox's John Madden had to say:

"I have a problem with the fact that [fans] need more entertainment. Because if pro football in itself isn't exciting enough, if it can't create enough interest, passion and love for the game in viewers, then everyone really overpaid for that product."

And this from CBS Sports president Sean McManus, during a conference call to promote his network's NFL coverage:

"We're here to talk about 'The NFL Today' and not 'Monday Night Football,' OK?"

TRAVELING MAN

Keith Jackson retired from broadcasting two years ago because he was tired of traveling. He came back when Howard Katz, president of ABC Sports, said Jackson could work only West Coast Pac-10 games. So why did he agree to travel cross-country for the USC-Penn State game?

"I had to be in New York for ABC meetings anyway," he said.

Jackson won't be traveling far this weekend, making the short trek from his Sherman Oaks home to the Rose Bowl for the UCLA-Alabama game.

This is the second season of Jackson's post-retirement career. And how long will this one last?

"I'll probably go one more year after this one," he said.

Looking ahead, Jackson will be in Colorado Sept. 23 for a Utah-Air Force game. He can't be too happy about that.

ABC is without a Pac-10 game that weekend because the network has two Pac-10 games Sept. 9--Miami at Washington and Colorado at USC--and ABC is limited to 14 Pac-10 games for the season.

RIDER BOOSTER

Chick Hearn, a guest on Arnie Spanier's show on KXTA 1150, called Isaiah Rider "a good friend." Reached later, Hearn explained. "It's not that we go out to dinner together," he said. "But he's one of the players in the league, one of the few players, I consider a friend. I interviewed him once and after that we'd always talk before games. He's got a great personality and a great smile." . . . Hearn is playing nursemaid to wife Marge, who had arthroscopic knee surgery this week.

SHORT WAVES

NBC is requiring a per-subscriber surcharge and seeking other contractual concessions from cable companies for providing its Olympic coverage on MSNBC and CNBC. NBC has reached an agreement with every major operator except Comcast, the nation's third largest, which is known for not caving in on sports issues. Comcast still doesn't carry Fox Sports Net 2. But NBC and Comcast are optimistic an agreement will be reached. . . . PBS offers a six-part documentary series on Australia that begins a three-day run on Channel 28 Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Gary Sheffield will serve as guest host of "This Week in Baseball" on Fox Saturday at 12:30 p.m. . . . Fox's "Turn Back the Clock" game last Saturday turned out to be a big hit. . . .Dick Enberg makes his debut on the U.S. Open for CBS this weekend. . . . Tom Hammond and Pat Haden are back as NBC's Notre Dame announcers. . . . Sign of the times: Nebraska's 9:30 a.m. opener with San Jose State Saturday is not on television, but a Webcast can be found on Foxsports.com or Huskers.com. . . . Channel 58 (KLCS), the Los Angeles Unified School District channel, will show its City Section high school football preview show on Saturday at 9 a.m., Monday at 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The Times' Gary Klein and Eric Stephens join host Randy Rosenbloom.

RADIO DAZE

Dodger flagship KXTA has made some recent changes. Dave Denholm is gone, Jeff Biggs and Bob Golic are doing a noon-to-3 p.m. show, and the "Third String" has taken over for Dave Smith and Ben Maller in the evenings. Maller has replaced Biggs on the Dodger beat and Smith, among other duties, will have his own show on Saturdays, 8-10 a.m. Vic "the Brick" Jacobs is still around, but he's been told to quit the goofiness. His directive from a superior: "Think of yourself as Peter Jennings." One welcome change would be for Tony Bruno's morning show on the new Fox radio network to replace that "Bob and Tom" syndicated show. Apparently the only person who likes it is Randy Michaels, CEO of KXTA's parent company.

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