While it was expected the NFL would get its existing TV partners to fork over more than $80 billion to continue their relationships through 2033, a far bigger surprise to me was ESPN spending $2.4 billion to wrest NHL broadcasting rights away from NBC Sports. The pact starts this fall and ends six years later.
Of concern to hockey fans is that 75 games a year will be broadcast exclusively on a trio of streaming services the Disney Corp. owns, Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. If the Rangers are playing the Islanders and that game is designated a streaming service game, then MSG, the cable home for the Rangers, Islanders and Devils, will not be able to telecast it. In contrast, Amazon, which will have exclusive broadcast rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package beginning in 2023, allows a local broadcast station to simulcast a Jets or Giants game.
It’s not coincidental Disney+ is reviving its “Mighty Ducks” franchise with a weekly series subtitled “Game Changers” that will star Emilio Estevez as somewhat burned-out Minneapolis pee-wee hockey coach Gordon Bombay. Hockey, which has always lagged behind other major sports in terms of overall popularity and the attention of the entertainment industry, is getting a boost from one of its best ambassadors, Denis Leary, with his latest television series, “The Moodys,” which begins its second season next Thursday, April 1, on Fox. If the show sounds familiar, it’s because it had a short run in December 2019.
Leary, who started out as a standup comic, showed his acting chops in FX’s “Rescue Me,” in which he portrayed a firefighter. In “The Moodys” he utilizes the acerbic wit from his comedy club days playing Sean Moody Sr., the patriarch of a family whose three adult children are back living with him, much to his chagrin. Leary told reporters during a Fox Zoom conference he has it in his contract each episode must contain a hockey scene. He may have been kidding but the series, which is being filmed in Montreal (though we are supposed to think it’s Chicago), will prominently feature the sport. Leary has raised a lot of money for charities playing in celebrity contests at NHL rinks.
Queens native Elizabeth Perkins plays Sean’s wife, Ann. Perkins is best known for starring in major ’80s and early ’90s films such as “About Last Night,” “Big” and “The Doctor.” Perkins has generally landed dramatic roles but she can deftly handle comedy as well, as she proves here. It’s no wonder she has enjoyed a durable career.
“The Moodys” deserves to be appointment viewing.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
Speaking of actors from Queens, Woodhaven’s Adrien Brody has agreed to portray Pat Riley in HBO’s upcoming series about the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s. It will be based on the book “Showtime,” written by well-known sports author Jeff Pearlman. My guess is HBO will not utilize the “Showtime” term for obvious reasons.
Mets owner Steve Cohen named former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to serve on the team’s board of directors. As you can probably guess, it did not take long for the Shea Bridge jokes to start flying on social media.
Newsday’s intrepid sports media columnist, Neil Best, reported last week Al Trautwig, who had been the signature air personality for the MSG Network for the last 30 years, did not have his contract renewed. His airtime had been greatly reduced after he took a leave of absence in September 2019 for what was believed to have been related to pressing health issues. The leave was supposed to be a short-term one.
Trautwig told Best he feels great but at age 65 the odds are against him getting another TV gig since the medium has always skewed to youth. The shame of it is Trautwig is a superb broadcaster. Yes, he was a company man at MSG but he never came across as a shill who insulted your intelligence. If the Knicks had just gotten blown out at the Garden, Trautwig would highlight a Knicks player who had a good game.
Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho may be following in the footsteps of another ex-NFL linebacker, Michael Strahan. Acho co-hosts FoxSports1’s “Speak for Yourself,” and last he week he hosted “The Bachelor: After The Final Rose” on ABC as he took the place of Chris Harrison, who stepped aside after getting embroiled in a controversy involving a contestant.
Life and style
Fox has committed to animation more than any other broadcast network, and last week it announced a partnership between its animated division, Bento Box Entertainment, and Australia’s Princess Pictures. The joint venture will open an animation studio in Melbourne. It will be interesting to see whether this entity becomes a 21st-century version of Hanna-Barbera Productions and becomes a supplier of animated series to other television networks.
It’s not surprising Fox has renewed its flagship animated series, “The Simpsons,” for seasons 33 and 34.
It’s no secret Hollywood practices ageism. There are very few films aimed towards anyone with an AARP card and that also means there aren’t many roles for older actors. Judy San Roman is a young veteran actress who understands there is a market for adult filmgoers who want to see intelligent movies that feature the actors they have gotten to know over the years.
San Roman started a company called Reelhouse Productions, which makes movies aimed at this underserved older audience. Its latest film, “Fair Market Value,” is a sharp comedy about a trio of Long Island real estate agents (played by Luisana Lopilato, Tina Benko and Wendy Makkena) who are trying to sell a Sag Harbor mansion. Familiar names in the cast include Broadway fixture Craig Bierko and TV veterans Julia Duffy and Debra Jo Rupp. The film was shot along the North Shore of Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Lopilato is an Argentinian-born actor. Her husband is Michael Buble, who composed and croons a couple of songs in the soundtrack.
“Fair Market Value” was completed just before the pandemic struck and under normal times it would have been playing at such movie houses as the Kew Gardens Cinemas. Currently it can be viewed on the urbanflixtv.com streaming service, which was launched two years ago by former actor and now Los Angeles businessman Herb Kimble.