? ESPN's coverage of the death of longtime ABC News and ABC Sports president Roone Arledge (page 121) was fast off the mark and first-rate. During the 6 p.m. SportsCenter last Thursday, not long after Arledge's death was announced, ESPN aired an impressive package of reports, highlighted by interviews with Arledge. Reporters also did live interviews with sportscaster Jim McKay, who worked for Arledge at ABC Sports, and Arledge prot�g� Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Sports. At about the same time, on ESPN News, anchor Michael Kim spoke with sportscaster Curt Gowdy, a close friend of Arledge's, and former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson, who battled Arledge for the rights to the Olympics. Excellent legwork.
?The byplay between TNT basketball analysts Mike Fratello and Jeff Van Gundy has made the network's broadcasts the most entertaining NBA games on television. During the Dec. 5 Hawks-Bucks game, Fratello asked Van Gundy, the former Knicks coach, "Could you get along with [Anthony] Mason?" Van Gundy, who coached the notoriously hardheaded Mason in the 1990s, replied, "Anthony is never totally happy with a coach, because he wants the ball basically every time down. But that's all right because...he competed hard in every game and never backed down from a challenge." Said Fratello, "That was a long answer to say, Yes, you had problems with him."
?Fox is busily laying the groundwork for an action-sports channel that will launch next summer. The channel will cover outdoor and X Games sports such as surfing, skateboarding and BMX biking and will be offered on digital cable and satellite. Fox expects to reach two million to three million subscribers.