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Media column: Showtime has a hit with Marlins; 790 The Ticket news; NFL notes

FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

Media news and views, from the couch:

### Judging from the preview episode, it seems Showtime’s reality series on the Marlins will be far more compelling television than, well, the team’s games during their underachieving first month. The Showtime series debuted last week and will resume with episodes on eight consecutive Wednesdays beginning July 11.

Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ general manager, said it will “probably be more entertaining” than HBO’s Hard Knocks training camp series on the Jets two years ago. That would be a high bar to reach, but the Marlins are doing their part by serving up intriguing storylines (several unintentionally), from the Ozzie Guillen/Fidel Castro fiasco, to the new ballpark, to the team’s distressing start.

In the debut episode, we saw Marlins president David Samson tell Guillen he was being suspended, and Guillen taking the news respectfully, without any open display of anger.

“It’s been the worst week we’ve ever had,” Samson told Guillen in another conversation. “On the phone every day, all day, dealing with it.” But “I hope you’re still going to be Ozzie.”

We saw Guillen’s first speech to his players, where he told them their “ugly [butt] uniforms” and last year’s “ugly [butt] ballpark” do not matter to him. He said he wants opposing teams “to [bleeping] hate us because that means you’re good.”

Owner Jeffrey Loria counted 97 f-bombs in Guillen’s first speech to his players. “That’s the only way you get their attention,” Guillen said.

Showtime has been allowed to film whatever it wants except Guillen’s speech to his players after he was suspended. Guillen requested privacy for that.

“It’s been more entertaining than what we expected,” Espinoza said.

Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson said Showtime “has done a pretty good job of staying out of the way.” He said during the spring, Showtime held microphones over players during some private conversations, but there is less of that now.

Said pitcher Randy Choate: “You try to act natural, but sometimes you can’t when they're [filming]. You’re mindful of cursing. You don’t want your daughter to hear five F-bombs.”

### 790 The Ticket looked down the hall and found two hosts who are popular among listeners, have comedic rapport and are delivering the type of whimsical banter that management craves for its morning show. Problem is, Jon Weiner and Marc Hochman already have jobs working with Dan Le Batard on their highly-rated afternoon show.

Station manager Jeff Dinetz said Weiner and Hochman are merely filling in on mornings until the Heat’s playoff run ends. He hasn’t considered asking them to do mornings permanently because he appreciates their chemistry with Le Batard and “we’re not going to sacrifice Dan’s show.”

But the chance of them doing mornings long-term hasn’t completely been ruled out. Dinetz admits a difficult decision potentially awaits if the program generates very high ratings the next two months.

“They are really entertaining,” Dinetz said. “They do the type of show I want to do in the mornings.” Weiner and Hochman are now on air for seven, 7 ½ or eight hours a day on weekdays – four in the morning, as many as four with Le Batard – but neither wants to give up the afternoon gig.

“I don’t think it’s feasible for them to do both permanently,” Dinetz said. “It would kill them.”

Asked if he's interested in doing the morning show longterm, Weiner said, "My only interest is to survive the next six to eight weeks of two-a-days and getting back to my normal life and hopefully getting some sleep."

Dinetz said hundreds of people have expressed interest in succeeding former morning host Jorge Sedano, who left to focus on his TV career. “We won’t be doing an X’s and O’s type show,” said Dinetz, who wants a mix of sports and pop culture.

### TMZ reported Junior Seau’s death 70 minutes before ESPN acknowledged it Wednesday afternoon, but ESPN showed sensible restraint by waiting to independently confirm it.

### With Ron Jaworski’s re-assignment to the studio leaving Jon Gruden as the sole analyst on Monday Night Football, we can only hope the quality of Gruden’s work will be comparable to his performance on the NFL Draft.

Gruden, far more likely to praise than criticize as a game analyst, was more even-handed alongside Mel Kiper, asserting that elite cornerback Morris Claiborne “missed some tackles he needs to be held accountable for,” and that tight end Coby Fleener (who went 34th to the Colts) doesn’t deserve to be taken before very late in the first round because “How can you take a tight end that early who doesn’t block?”

### Sports Emmy winners this week included NBC’s Cris Collinsworth (for event analyst), studio analyst Charles Barkley (who promptly had champagne dumped on him by Kenny Smith after TNT’s double-header Monday), studio host Bob Costas (for NBC and MLB Network), Joe Buck (for Fox football and baseball) and reporter Michele Tafoya (for NBC NFL).       

### ESPN averaged 6.6 million viewers for the first round of the draft, NFL Network 1.4 million. At the league’s request, the two networks agreed not to show players receiving phone calls indicating they had just been selected, at least not before the picks were announced.

But Adam Schefter, Jason LaCanfora and others released picks on Twitter, and though some fans didn’t like that, they would have been remiss if they had withheld the information. ESPN's Chris Berman clearly knew the picks of teams that are run by executives with whom he has a relationship (including Cleveland’s Mike Holmgren) and released the info, coyly, on air.

### ESPN’s Lisa Salters, who asks sensible questions on NBA telecasts, will be a solid addition to MNF. The last time Salters worked with Gruden and Mike Tirico (on the Orange Bowl), Gruden regrettably identified her as Michelle Obama. (Gruden noted the Obama was on the sideline; Tirico corrected Gruden and said it was Salters. ) Oops.

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