Author Archives: stevelowery12

The Return: Rocky Bleier, Vietnam, and a doc worthy of Oscar consideration

This is an extended piece from an item in the Aug. 19 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

By Tom Hoffarth

Producer Jon Fish said he got a call about a month ago from ESPN execs to see if he could possibly speed up the editing process of his “SC Featured” documentary called “The Return,” based on former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and Army veteran Rocky Bleier agreeing to come revisit the Vietnam site where he was injured and earned a Purple Heart.

The network wanted to see if the piece could be entered into the L.A. Shorts International Film Festival last month. Fish obliged with a rough cut for the organization, without really knowing the ramifications.

Surprise: The festival not only requested a final version, but the 27-minute piece won Best Documentary.

Bigger surprise: That qualifies it to become eligible to be submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences for best documentary short subject.

And by its airing Tuesday (ESPN2, 5 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.) in a slightly tighter version to accommodate a half-hour TV window, it also gets on the radar of the Sports Emmy Awards.

Read more

A SIGN OF THE TIMES: THE DODGERS, YOUTUBE, VIDEO STREAMING … START SCREAMING

By Tom Hoffarth
The premise started rather simple in what ended up as this week’s version of the L.A. Times sports media column:
A) YouTube does a swell job at streaming free MLB games.
Which reminds us …
B) The Angels stream their Fox Sports West games on the Fox Go App.
But …
C) The Dodgers do not stream SportsNet L.A. games on the Spectrum App. Even if you subscribe to a service that gets SNLA.
That’s kinda strange, isn’t it?
D) Would the Dodgers considering taking the channel they actually own and making it available for streaming, a service that more in the younger demographic are comfortable with, and even those older can learn how to use via this YouTube template?
The Dodgers declined to comment, and Charter/Spectrum, which is in charge of the distribution, dismissed it. Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHAT DAN FOUTS LEARNED FROM HIS FATHER, BOB, TO SHARPEN HIS BROADCAST SKILLS FOR CHARGERS, CBS

By Tom Hoffarth
Dan Fouts spend last weekend in Canton, Ohio, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies, which included the usual group photo op (above).
His week ahead includes flying from his home in central Oregon to visit the Chargers’ Costa Mesa practice facility Tuesday, then joining the TV broadcast booth in Arizona on Thursday night as the team opens its exhibition season.
Friday morning, the former San Diego Chargers great and a color commentator on CBS NFL broadcasts will head to San Francisco. It’s time to say goodbye to his father during a funeral at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
Bob Fouts died July July 9 at 97. The elder Fouts had logged two decades calling San Francisco 49ers TV and radio games when the team joined the NFL in 1950 and was a legendary Bay Area broadcaster whose work included college basketball, the NBA and local TV sportscasts.
What Dan Fouts learned from Bob Fouts does deep in the DNA for broadcasting, play-by-play or analysis. Here’s our weekly L.A. Times sports media piece, taking to Dan Fouts after his return from the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.

 

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: DAN LE BATARD, ESPN AND WHEN POLITICS/TRUMP DON’T MIX GOING FORWARD

By Tom Hoffarth
In the boiling-hot-to-quickly-evaporating news cycle of stories about sports media members — public figures who border on celebrity — last week was full of suspense over whether Dan Le Batard would be reprimanded, suspended or fired by ESPN because of comments he made on his radio show in response to politically toxic tweets from President Trump.
ESPN chief Jimmy Pitaro had Le Batard meet him Thursday. The air was cleared. Those familiar with the temperament and leadership style of Pitaro, who started steering the all-sports network’s nuclear submarine in the spring of 2018, figured Le Batard would get the benefit of any doubts even though Pitaro has made it clear he’s not keen on his employees talking about anything tinged with politics.
So what does Le Batard and ESPN do going forward? We try out some idea in our latest Los Angeles Times media piece.
Meanwhile, m
ore to read on the subject: Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Jim Healy, 25 years after his departure, and if he still influences today’s radio landscape

By Tom Hoffarth
Is is true: Jim Healy left us 25 years ago — on his current gravemarker at Forrest Lawn Cemetery near Lakeside Country Club, Jim asks the question he made famous. And then his wife,  Pat, who passed away three years later, provides the answer above.
hollywood-ca-december-06-jim-healy-star-on-the-hollywood-walk-of-fame-KHRHA9
For our July 22 piece for the L.A. Times, we mark the occasion with a couple of interviews from his son and KNBC-Chanel 4 longtime reporter, Patrick Healy, KLAC’s Petros Papadakis, and former Healy sound-clip providers Ted Sobel and Paul Olden (the later of whom got the answer from Lasorda about a simple question some 40 years ago, with this clip below).
 

From the Los Angeles Times files, an obituary Larry Stewart wrote for Healy’s death on July 22, 1994, followed by a report on a tribute ceremony weeks later, chronicle the historic importance of Healy’s work. In an appreciation piece by former Times columnist and sports editor Bill Dwyre on the 20th anniversary of Healy’s death in 2014, “Journalist Bill” noted that Healy’s freewheeling, one-man sports radio show “was like nothing before and certainly nothing since.”
That remains a fact.

Thanks to those L.A. Times readers who responded with letters to the editor this week as well. We also heard from Matt Vasgersian, the ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” play-by-play man who grew up in L.A. before working for the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres and MLB Network.
Vasgersian said: “I channel him every day during our off-season morning talk show ‘Hot Stove’ with soundboard drops — probably over 200 of them, using them dozens of times an hour. He was a bigger influence on me than any single broadcast personality I’ve ever listened to. I even went to his Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony — of course hosted by Johnny Grant.”
Enjoy …

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: An appreciation of Jim Bouton, smokin’ ’em inside decade after decade

By Tom Hoffarth
The passing of Jim Bouton last week at age 80 was pause to reflect on his career not so much as a major-league pitcher, but for what he delivered to journalism in the form of “Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues.”
IMG_6791We are thankful we have a place to express our own reflections and cherished personal encounters in this week’s Los Angeles Times media piece.
We’ve done pieces on Bouton in the past, and enjoyed every moment, from paragraph to end quote.
A 2003 piece on his book, “Foul Ball,” gave us a chance to even challenge our own bosses at the time. We are thankful he posted it on his own official website.
In 2010, we caught up with Bouton in Burbank, for another treat, also with old friend Greg Goossen, Bouton’s former Seattle Pilots teammate who became a memorable character in “Ball Four.”
In 2017, we wrote about how the notes and recordings Bouton did for “Ball Four” were up for public auction. The collection never met the required minimum, and never sold. Which is fine, since it found its way to the Library of Congress, although money from that sale could have helped with Bouton’s medical expenses. Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: When a Women’s World Cup starts the wave for Copa America and Gold Cup pitch-perfect-palooza

By Tom Hoffarth
Kick this idea around: Find a 15-hour time frame on a scorching summer Sunday when we can connect the final plot lines of three major soccer tournaments, on three different continents, and create a pitch-perfect-palooza viewing party.
It also happens to fall on America’s Fourth of July extended weekend.
Where do the TV networks sign up?

wwc liberty

From Jim Thompson/@jimmysporttoons

Fox led the charge, partnering with the FIFA Women’s World Cup from France that launched in the morning for U.S. viewers. Then it circled back for an evening affair with the CONCACAF Gold Cup. If as much by wishful thinking as by design, it had both the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams on center stage in each of those merriments.
Wedged between, a Copa America title bout that boasts the best of South America, something ESPN+ could frame as pay wall-worthy if one wasn’t inclined to listen to Andres Cantor call it aloud for Telemundo’s Spanish-language viewers.
Not everyone, of course, shared the amicable spirit of this cable-ready mash-up.
But it worked. The U.S. women won. The U.S. men didn’t, but a 1-0 loss to Mexico wasn’t unwatchable.
We write more about that triple combo situation and the viewership that came with it in this week’s Los Angeles Times media piece linked here posted Sunday.
Bonus coverage: As far as how many watched, and how the Gold Cup added to the mix, here’s more from another Los Angeles Times media piece posted Monday.

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