Each week, SI.com's Richard Deitsch will report on newsmakers from the world of TV, radio and the Web.
In one of its many tributes to Tim Russert last weekend, The Buffalo News hit on the essence of why the NBC broadcaster was so beloved in his hometown: "Here in Western New York," the paper wrote, "he will be remembered as the guy who never forgot where he came from, and never felt he had to apologize for."
THEY SAID IT
"My problem now is I'm not making [Jim] Rome money, I'm not making Dan Patrick money, but I was making over a half a million dollars a year and nobody wants to pay that. No matter how good you are or how much you delivered, that's tough money to get right now because ESPN is the only legitimate station right now. Fox Sports Radio now, they're not giving anybody any money, they're doing it on the cheap. They don't have any stars. And Sporting News? The radio side is pretty much going out of business. That's why they didn't renew my deal because they didn't want to give me a three-year deal, because they probably aren't going to be in business on the radio side in three years."
-- Sports radio personality Tony Bruno, in a must-read interview with Deadspin writer A.J. Daulerio.
The folks at ESPN's Pardon the Interruption should offer a course on how to defuse a potentially embarrassing situation. After photos were posted on a Web site (alas, we can't link) of co-host Michael Wibon and colleague J.A. Adande partying with some stars of the adult entertainment industry -- we're guessing this wasn't a Disney-sponsored event -- PTI colleagues Tony Kornhesier and Tony Reali unmercifully mocked Wilbon throughout the half-hour. Executive producer Erik Rydholm, who created the show among other career achivements, is a smart man.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann's performance following Russert's death might have been his finest moment in broadcasting. Honest, at times heartwrenching, Olbermann weaved his way through guest after guest who spoke about Russert's career and life. Often, he lost his composure, but never his professionalism.
There is nothing in this column that comes close to matters of health and life. Let's state that upfront. ESPN baseball analyst Rick Sutcliffe was diagnosed with colon cancer a couple of months ago and was scheduled to undergo surgery today. The North County Times (Escondido, Ca.) reported that the cancer "was caught in Stage 1, which means with treatment and surgery it's 100 percent curable." I wish Sutcliffe, who I think is a good analyst, nothing but the best of health. I wish him a long and fruitful life.
One prominent baseball blogger called for Sutcliffe to be fired. (And touched off an interesting discussion on Baseball Think Factory.org). I don't go that far. But I do hope that when he comes back from his surgery -- hopefully, as healthy as he's ever been in his life -- he's pulled aside by a couple of ESPN executives and told firmly never to go down that path ever again.
We've long admired the mission of ESPNEWS, but a minor annoyance is that they occasionally pull out of live press conferences before the conclusion of the briefing. Last week producers opted out of the final couple of questions of David Stern's press conference prior to Game 4 of the NBA Finals to show taped footage from a briefing given earlier by Celtics coach Doc Rivers. (Thankfully, NBA-TV was also showing the press conference.) Given that those interested in Celtics news would have likely opted for the NBA pregame show on ABC that was airing at that time, it seems logical (at least to us) that those who tuned into ESPNEWS were watching specifically to see what Stern had to say about Tim Donaghy's latest allegations. And that means every question.
THEY WROTE IT, I
"I can't tell you who will win the US Open which starts in San Diego next Thursday but I can tell you who won't. His name is Tiger Woods. You might have heard of him."
THEY WROTE IT, PART II
"No one wants to say it. Tiger Woods doesn't want to say it. Phil Mickelson doesn't want to say it. But I will. Tiger has no chance of winning the U.S. Open this week at Torrey Pines Golf Course. And the reason is a lot simpler than breaking down variants such as quirky rough, emotional states and rehabilitation techniques since surgery on his left knee two months ago. The reason is that Tiger is human."
LINK OF THE WEEK
Longtime sports announcer Charlie Jones died last week, a sad note that drew little attention because it came within days of the death of Jim McKay. Upon reading of his death I discovered that Jones had a blog (charliejonesonsportsblogspot.com) that he updated (through writer Greg Anton) a couple of times a week, waxing on politics, sports and television.
WHAT I'M LOOKING FOWARD TO THIS WEEK
With China's global coming-out party less than three months away, the top-notch journalists at FRONTLINE examined the lives of nine Chinese young people in Young & Restless In China,a two-hour documentary that debuts on PBS stations this Tuesday (9 p.m.). It's a remarkable look at the furious changes that are shaping the world's most populous nation. FRONTLINE spent four years with its subjects and rarely as China been seen so intimately by the Western press. If you are interested in the upcoming Beijing Games, the program is not to be missed.