Here's a sneak peek at the new beer commercial that will run during Saturday's NBC telecast of the Stanford-Notre Dame game.
Changing Channels today welcomes all you jillions of disconsolate, aimless Hallmark and Hallmark Movie Channel views who've been shuffling around like zombies since you lost access to your channels through AT&T U-Verse early Wednesday morning. Don't worry, guys! This blog, with its obsessional pursuit of ever-racier photos of Jennifer Aniston and Dana Delany, a relaunch of NBC's American Dreams and a Swanson's TV dinner Hall of Fame (first member: enchiladas), is even more more fun than the heartwarmingest Hallmark movie about romance after divorce or the death of a pet. Why, even Keith Olberman is frequent visitor! (He's the one in the trenchcoat and dark glasses, over in the corner. Don't make any sudden moves around him -- he's a biter.)
The loss of your channels was a result of the increasingly hardball nature of negotiations between producers and service providers over the fees paid for programming. Hallmark and AT&T have been negotiating frantically since August 1, but talks broke down Tuesday night, and at midnight Hallmark pulled the plug. Your channels might be back soon, but then again, they might not. When the Versus sports channel got into a fight over money with DirecTV, it took six months to get it straightened out.
The good news is that you Hallmark fans are probably going to have plenty of company around here. The deal between Time Warner Cable and Disney expires on Sept. 2, and unless negotiations take a sudden turn for the positive, Time Warner viewers are going to lose access to the entire Rodent Empire: ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel and everything else Disney owns.
When Jimmy Johnson was football coach at the University of Miami, he told its president to go to hell -- and survived. After coaching the Dallas Cowboys, he mocked the owner for getting a face-lift, compared him to Michael Jackson -- and survived.
Now he's going to Nicaragua as a contestant on the TV show Survivor.
I'm betting on Nicaragua.
Several news outlets reported Wednesday that the 67-year-old Johnson is leaving his fishing boat in the Keys for San Juan del Sur, the beachside town in southern Nicaragua where production of the 21st season of Survivor started earlier this month.
Johnson is a total Survivor geek who never misses an episode and has been trying to make the cast for a couple of years now. He almost succeeded in 2008, but missed the final cut when a physical turned up arterial blockage. Two years later and 30 pounds lighter, he's succeeded.
Good for you, Jimmy. But I've been writing about Nicaragua for a quarter of a century, and I can tell you it's no country for old men, or young men, or men with all their marbles.
It's got wars and volcanoes and hurricanes. It's got vampire bats, for heaven's sake, not to mention loathsome little micro-organisms that would make you throw up if I even told you about them, much less if they got into your gastrointestinal tract. When the first Spanish conquistadores arrived 500 years ago, they nervously sent word home that they had discovered the very mouth of Hell. Read my full column on Johnson's impending doom at the hands of Nicaragua in Thursday's Miami Herald.
I enjoyed your column on soccer "evangelism'' as I call it. Why in the name of Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, etc. must some people feel that religious urge to foist soccer on a largely indifferent public? Is it better that football? Do more classy people watch it, like the yobs who riot routinely at soccer matches? Are we inferior to the Euro trash that look down their noses at American football? I think it's snob appeal and part of the trend of our "betters'' to denigrate anything American and worship anything from abroad. They are wasting their time. At age 64 I ain't about to start watching a sport where nothing happens except guys in shorts running around chasing a ball.
Screw those guy who wrote letters on soccer that the paper printed today. I'm with your sports colleague, (Greg Cote?) who said watching soccer is like watching paint dry. I've got to look at soccer because my grandson is a strong player and I need to be able to talk with him.
It seems to me that after millions of years of evolution we have developed hands with opposing thumbs and it's stupid not to use them. It's like having opera with music and only pantomime, no voices.
Then an aired on WLRN, the Herald's public-radio broadcast partner. Tough audience over there:
Whenever I hear an egregious grammar mistake on NPR, I send a message as I believe NPR should be the standard of grammar excellency in broadcasting. You’re the latest offender. It’s “fewer viewers,” not “less viewers,” as you said in your piece today on the World Cup.
Director, International Media Center
Florida International University
That's hardly the worst of it, John. I'm afraid poor Dana Davis Rehm might have inadvertently heard the piece and put her ear drums out with sharpened chopsticks in despair.
American soccer now has its greatest opportunity. If those who control this burgeoning game in the U.S. have the good sense and the enlightened self-interest to discipline themselves and to take a decent posture toward soccer, we may yet have a shot at international recognition in a game that, thanks to an accident in sporting history, passed us by.
The only catch: Those lines appeared in Sports Illustrated in March 1967. The two new professional leagues the magazine ballyhooed -- surely you remember the National Professional Soccer League and the United Soccer Association -- were stillborn a month later. Certainly they still loom large in the memories of TV cameramen, who every week had to come up with breathtakingly acute new camera angles to disguise the vast expanse of empty seats at the games. If you're one of the 870 fans who attended the match between the Chicago Spurs and the Los Angeles Toros in Chicago's 61,500-seat Soldier Field in June 1967, bring your ticket stub by the newspaper and I'll buy you an ice-cream cone.
If Sports Illustrated was the first to sample the soccer Kool-Aid, plenty of others have guzzled from the same pitcher over the past four decades. As the joke goes, soccer is America's sport of the future -- and always will be. Read my full op-ed column in Tuesday's Miami Herald.
Super Bowl? We can take it or leave it. Olympics? Don't watch 'em so much. Soccer? Now you're talking. When the World Cup is on, South Florida turns on the TV.
No television market in the United States is watching World Cup matches more fervidly than South Florida. Both English-language ESPN and Spanish-language Univisión say Miami and Fort Lauderdale lead all cities in ratings for TV viewership.
That's a marked contrast to ratings for February's Super Bowl on CBS (in which South Florida finished 49th out of the biggest 55 markets) or the Winter Olympics on NBC (most nights, South Florida was dead last). Read the full story Barry Jackson and I wrote on World Cup ratings in Saturday's Miami Herald.
For the first time since he was run off from ESPN in 2003, Rush Limbaugh is back on a sports network. He'll be the pupil on the 2011 season of the Golf Channel's The Haney Project, in which former Tiger Woods coach Hank Haney works with celebrities to improve their game. But he'll start popping up on the Golf Channel even before that -- his first appearance will be Tuesday on the series Golf In America.
Limbaugh's recent experience with pro sports hasn't been happy. First he lost his gig on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown after he remarked that the Eagles' Donovan McNabb had been overrated by politically correct sportscasters who wanted a black quarterback to succeed. Then last year the NFL blocked his attempt to buy into the ownership of the St. Louis Rams on the grounds that he was too controversial. We'll see what happens the first time he bumps into Tiger in a clubhouse.