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Sports Weekend | TV-RADIO / LARRY STEWART

Oliver Has Just the Right Touch

October 10, 2003|LARRY STEWART

An interview with Donovan McNabb on Fox's NFL pregame show last Sunday caught our attention. And it had nothing to do with Rush Limbaugh's racially tinged comments about McNabb. It had everything to do with the person conducting the interview, Pam Oliver.

It was the questions Oliver asked and how she asked them -- tough and to the point, but not offensive. It was how Oliver listened to what the Philadelphia star was saying and how she responded. It was textbook.

Oliver set up her feature segment by saying that for McNabb it had been "a dreadful beginning to a season where his own play had been awful." No sugar-coating here.

"Can a quarterback just lose it?" Oliver asked.

McNabb: "You go through some slumps, it's all how you overcome it. Are you able to fight through it? Do you let it bother you? I never let it bother me."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday October 11, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
College football -- Miami will play Florida State today, not Florida, as was reported in the TV-Radio column in Sports on Friday.

What Oliver did next showed she was paying attention.

"Wait a second," she said, "it never bothers you?"

McNabb: "Well, it bothers me a little."

McNabb went on to say that the criticism and the boos can get personal if you allow them to, but you have to be given the opportunity to get out of a slump.

"You are disgustingly positive and optimistic," Oliver said with a laugh.

The interview did not include questions about Limbaugh because it was taped on Monday, before the Limbaugh story exploded.

What the interview provided was a closer look at McNabb. Oliver did what a good sports television journalist is supposed to do, and she did it with class.

Viewers have come to expect that from Oliver. She's not flashy. She's professional and competent.

Her Los Angeles-based agent, Rick Ramage, said, "She shies away from publicity. She likes to stay under the radar screen and not draw attention to herself."

So don't look for Oliver to be doing any lingerie layouts.

Because an interview request had been made through Fox's public relations department, Oliver called Thursday from the airport in Charlotte, N.C., where she had just finished filming a feature with the Panthers' Stephen Davis.

She said she was glad her McNabb interview did not include reaction to Limbaugh's comments. "By Sunday, I was sick of the story," she said. "I was very happy with how the interview came out."

Oliver is no newcomer to sports broadcasting. She is 42 and has been in the business nearly 20 years.

This is her ninth year as a feature reporter and sideline reporter for Fox. She is also an anchor and reporter for the Fox Sports Net regional network based in Atlanta.

She worked in a number of markets before landing a job with ESPN and then moving on to Fox.

A native of Dallas, she is a graduate of Florida A&M, where she was an All-American 400-meter runner.

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Bad Memories

The horses who will be running in the Breeders' Cup Oct. 25 at Santa Anita, along with their workouts, will be examined in "The Works," a one-hour show that will be televised daily at 5 p.m. on TVG and Fox Sports Net 2 beginning Saturday and continuing through Oct. 24.

Gary Stevens, who will be a guest analyst this weekend, might have a few things to say about his experiences riding Storming Home, the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Storming Home was the horse that tossed and injured Stevens at the Arlington Million Aug. 26.

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Learning the Biz

Former UCLA coach Bob Toledo has been doing football commentating for the Football Network, a niche channel that televises lower division games.

Saturday, he and Eddie Doucette will announce Drake at San Diego. Last Saturday Toledo was paired with Barry Tompkins on Sacramento State at UC Davis.

"I play golf Tuesday through Thursday, then head out for a game," said Toledo, who is a member of North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks. "I'm enjoying the job and learning a lot."

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Reality TV, NBA Style

Reality TV is everywhere these days, including on NBA TV. A four-part series that takes viewers inside the training camp of the Denver Nuggets makes its debut today at 3 p.m. Carmelo Anthony, Nugget Coach Jeff Bzdelik, Shawn Kemp and journeyman Jon Barry, in his eighth training camp in 11 seasons, are featured.

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Short Waves

ESPN has hired George Karl and Dan Majerle as NBA commentators, although their play-by-play partners were not announced.... Isiah Thomas was in Bristol, Conn., for an ESPN audition this week.... Bill Laimbeer, coach of the WNBA champion Detroit Shock, might be considered as a partner for Al Michaels on the ABC telecasts.

Baseball fever: Even with the Cubs' 12-3 blowout Wednesday night, Fox got a 12.0 rating for its split-national coverage, a 46% increase over a year ago. The two-night average for the league championship series is an 11.0, a 41% increase over last year and the highest since 1995.

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