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Women to Rule Laker Telecast

March 26, 2004|LARRY STEWART

What does Shaquille O'Neal's wife say about NBA officiating while she watches her husband at work?

Can Derek Fisher really play the trumpet?

Does Phil Jackson like rap music?

What's with Rick Fox's hair?

These are some of the topics an all-female announcing team will be discussing during a telecast of the Lakers' home game against the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night.

The crew will consist of Jeanie Buss, Lisa Leslie, Shaunie O'Neal, Linda Rambis and LeeAnn Tweeden.

No, they haven't replaced Paul Sunderland and Stu Lantz. While Sunderland and Lantz will be calling that night's game as usual on Fox Sports Net, the women will have the floor on Fox Sports Net 2.

Call it a sports version of "The View."

The women will be in a living room setting in the Kings' locker room at Staples Center and will chat as they watch the game on a plasma TV.

Buss and Fox Sports Net general manager Steve Simpson came up with the idea during a dinner conversation.

"We wanted to try something different to reach people who aren't really basketball fans," Buss said Thursday.

"It's not an original idea," Buss said. "ABC tried that by hiring Dennis Miller for 'Monday Night Football.'

"The problem was, there was not enough Dennis Miller for those who like him, and too much of Dennis Miller for those who just wanted football.

"In this case, people will have a choice."

The women got together for a rehearsal March 5, when the Lakers played Seattle. They gathered in a Staples Center suite, but afterward it was decided that a living room setting would work better.

Of the rehearsal, Buss said, "We didn't discuss what we were going to talk about, we just started talking. The chemistry among us was unbelievable."

Buss said there'll be a sixth seat on the set, so they can invite special guests. Here's one suggestion: Marge Hearn. She has her late husband's wit and is a delight on the air.

Buss is the group's triple threat. She is the Lakers' executive vice president of business operations, the boss' daughter and the coach's girlfriend.

"We all can offer different perspectives," Buss said. "During the rehearsal, we never ran out of things to talk about.

"Lisa is there to explain the finer points of the game. There isn't anyone I'd rather sit next to at a basketball game. And Shaunie, she's great. At one point during the rehearsal she was talking about Shaq's taste in music, and she turned to me and said, 'So, does Phil like rap music?' "

So does he?

"You'll have to watch the telecast to find out," Buss said.

New Partnership

Beginning next week, if you hear the voices of Fox Sports Net anchors on radio station XTRA (690 and 1150), that doesn't mean your radio has suddenly started picking up television signals.

The two entities have established a partnership.

Fox Sports Net's "Southern California Sports Report" will be simulcast on XTRA each night at 10 o'clock, followed by Lee Klein's new show, "Final Call."

Also, Fox Sports Net anchors and reporters such as Van Earl Wright, Carolyn Hughes, Barry LeBrock, Michael Eaves, Lindsay Soto and Bill Macdonald will be heard regularly on XTRA.

They'll contribute interviews and commentaries throughout the day, and XTRA's three-times-an-hour sports updates will now be called the "Southern California Sports Report."

Also, XTRA's Lee Hamilton and Mychal Thompson will appear regularly on Fox Sports Net's nightly news show.

Fox Sports Net's Simpson said the partnership had been in the works for about a year and a half. He and XTRA program director Don Martin only recently worked out the details.

For viewers and listeners, it should be a plus.

Viewers, though, should brace themselves for the first appearance of XTRA's Vic "the Brick" Jacobs on Fox Sports Net. That long hair and raccoon hat can be jolting.

Short Waves

Surely, everybody is waiting for this: The winner of ESPN's "Dream Job" will be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday.

So, a sports anchor has a dream job? Maybe not at Channel 5. The station gave dependable Tony Hernandez his walking papers last week, telling him he would be done April 16.

There has been something of a revolving door on the Channel 5 sports desk. Hernandez replaced Stu Nahan on weeknights in 1998, then popular weekend sports anchor Ed Arnold, who had been at the station for 13 years, was replaced by Claudia Trejos the following year. Then came Steve Grad, and now Leila Feinstein is the weekend sports anchor.

ABC has a cool element in its World Figure Skating Championship coverage, which began Thursday night and concludes April 3. ABC got Stomp, an off-Broadway percussion troupe, together with more than 200 blocks of ice, to do its thing for the opening teases. It's pretty amazing.

John Kruk, a regular on Fox Sports Net's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" from 2001-03, has been hired as an analyst for "Baseball Tonight." He makes his debut Monday.... ESPN will drop "NHL2Night" next season.

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