NBC made an Olympic production hire this week that on the surface may not have appeared to be big news.
It was announced that Michael Weisman, as executive consultant, would be working alongside Dick Ebersol, NBC Sports chairman, and David Neal, executive vice president, at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics.
For Weisman to return to NBC, where he spent 18 years before being fired by Ebersol in 1989, isn't quite tantamount to what is commonplace in boxing. It doesn't rank up there with Bob Arum and Don King burying the hatchet and working together on a major promotion, or Arum and Oscar De La Hoya patching up their differences and getting back together.
But the pairing of Weisman and Ebersol is not something anyone in sports television could have foreseen.
Ebersol fired Weisman shortly after he became the head of NBC Sports. Ebersol told Weisman he wanted to replace him with his own man, Terry O'Neil, as executive producer, the No. 2 position in the department.
"The way I looked at it, I was let go through no fault of my own," Weisman says now. "I was disappointed and hurt."
But Weisman never publicly criticized Ebersol or anyone else at NBC. He went on to do quite well. He is now Fox's coordinating producer of baseball, but he is nonexclusive to Fox. On his own, he creates and/or produces entertainment and sports specials, such as the Par-3 Challenge, a made-for-TV golf event.
O'Neil, meanwhile, left NBC in 1993 after the network asked him to take a salary cut.
"I hardly know Mike, but I'm pleased for him," O'Neil said. "I think it's terrific that they asked him back. I know he was very popular when he was at NBC."
Two years ago, Weisman invited Ebersol to lunch, and the two have had a good relationship since.
"I'm flattered and pleased Dick asked me to work with him and David Neal on the Olympics," Weisman said. "I'm living proof you can go home again."
Ebersol said: "Michael is one of the most talented producers of the modern sports era. David and I sought him out to have another experienced set of eyes and ears in the control room."
Having Weisman on board for the Games that begin Feb. 8 is a plus in a lot of ways. Now if only Weisman, who lives in Brentwood, could convince NBC to show the coverage live on the West Coast.
NBA Deal Update
It has been pretty much established that the NBA and AOL Time Warner are on the verge of a deal to jointly own a new cable channel, AOL Sports. It would carry games, up to four nights a week, beginning next season.
But even though AOL Time Warner is the parent company of Turner Broadcasting, meaning TNT and TBS could also be involved, a source said Thursday not to count out the Disney entry of ESPN and ABC.
The source said a deal should be in place next week. The goal is to get it done before Christmas.
Tonight's game between the Lakers and Clippers at Staples Center may be the most intriguing these two teams have played.
But it's available only on cable and satellite TV.
If the Clippers hadn't broken off negotiations with Channel 9 and made a new deal, that over-the-air station also would be televising the game.
But the Clipper brass got cocky and is without an over-the-air station at a time when they need and deserve wider television coverage.
Jay Mohr will be back on Jim Rome's Fox Sports Net show tonight, and the name Bill Polian just might come up.
Mohr and the Colt president got into it on an Indianapolis radio show Wednesday after Mohr claimed the Colts made Edgerrin James practice for three weeks with a torn knee ligament.
Polian accused Mohr of lying because he mistakenly thought Drew Rosenhaus was James' agent when it's actually Leigh Steinberg.
The word "lied" set Mohr off. "You're crazy, you're insane," he said on the air. "No wonder the Colts are doing so poorly. You are an absolute madman. And everybody listening to the radio knows the general manager of their favorite team is a madman."
Polian, on his own show later in the day, suggested the team might sue Mohr.
A Killer Sport
If you've never seen a women's college volleyball match, you're missing out. As with women's tennis, women's volleyball is as good if not better than the men's game.
It's too bad television gives women's college volleyball short shrift. The sport could easily get better ratings than women's basketball if television got behind it, promoted it and gave it good time slots.
Thursday night's playoff semifinal match between Long Beach State and Arizona will be shown by ESPN2 at 8 a.m. today. The other semifinal also will be delayed, with ESPN showing it today at noon.
At least Saturday's championship match at San Diego State will be on ESPN2 live. But the teams are required to play at noon, which could hurt the live gate.