Legendary sportscaster Marv Albert announced last weekend he will be hanging up his microphone at the conclusion of next month’s NBA Conference Finals. Except for the late Howard Cosell, I cannot think of a sportscaster who has been more imitated than Albert has been thanks to his slightly nasal lower octave voice and his “YES!” signature call.
Albert is revered in his native New York City because of his many years as the radio voice of the Knicks and Rangers. Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan grew disenchanted with Albert’s criticism of the teams and decided not to renew his MSG network contract in 2004. Albert went to the YES Network in 2005, then left to do NBA games on TNT. It would be a classy gesture if Dolan welcomed him back for a “Marv Albert Night” before a Knicks game.
It’s fair to wonder if Warner Media, the parent corporation of Turner Broadcasting, may have forced Albert’s decision. He turns 80 next month and Warner Media has not shown much room for sentimentality ever since it was acquired by AT&T. Turner may have been sending a strong message as it just fired his most recent broadcasting partner, former NBA star Chris Webber.
Kenny Mayne announced on Twitter last week he was let go by ESPN after 27 years with the Worldwide Leader in Sports. His deadpan humor made him the Steven Wright of Sportscenter anchors. He was a onetime backup quarterback for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and wasn’t shy about his using his athletic ability for humorous bits.
ESPN execs loved using Mayne for the annual spring Upfront presentation, when networks try to entice dollars from ad agencies by announcing their fall programming. A few networks employ their late-night talent to good-naturedly skewer them as a way of making their presentations more fun and memorable. CBS always utilizes Stephen Colbert; ABC has Jimmy Kimmel; NBC alternates between Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers; Turner employed Conan O’Brien before it merged with humorless AT&T. I can attest Mayne got bigger laughs during his five minutes on stage than those aforementioned talented professional funnymen did.
The NFL is a master of marketing in the off-season. First, it was the hoopla surrounding the draft. Now, the release of the upcoming season’s schedule has taken on event status.
Last week, the league announced the New York Jets and their new QB Zach Wilson will open the season in Charlotte. They’ll face the Carolina Panthers, who will be led by the man he’s replacing, Sam Darnold. That should create some buzz leading into Week 1 around here.
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Showtime Sports will debut a documentary about the life of NBA great Kevin Garnett titled “Anything Is Possible” on July 30. Garnett was inducted into the national Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., last weekend.
The Mets’ cable home, SNY, will begin simulcasting WFAN’s “Carton & Roberts,” afternoon drive show from 4 to 6 p.m. beginning this Monday. Expect hammy Craig Carton to up his game for TV while Evan Roberts will dutifully play the sighing straight man.
It will be interesting to see how the combined television-radio/streaming ratings for “Carton & Roberts” will compare with those of ESPN New York’s “Michael Kay Show” which is simulcast afternoons on the YES Network.
The New York Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound-Tigers, is changing its name to the Bridgeport Islanders as a way of enticing folks to cross Long Island Sound to see the future stars of their favorite NHL teams.
Life and style
The streaming service Apple TV Plus is unveiling a new documentary series tomorrow, May 21, dedicated to the pop culture and news highlights of 50 years ago called “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything.”
There is a bit of hyperbole in that title, but it is fascinating to look back at when the Beatles launched solo careers and the Rolling Stones launched their own record label because they found themselves in financial straits.
In addition, we get to see rare footage of pop/rhythm & blues legends such as Marvin Gaye, Ike & Tina Turner, the Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes and James Brown as well as nascent rock stars, at the time, Alice Cooper and David Bowie. It would have been nice if popular American groups such as Three Dog Night and the Grass Roots hadn’t been ignored, however.
One sign the Covid-19 pandemic is easing because Americans are getting their vaccines is the return of the annual Kennedy Center Honors which pay tribute to those who have enriched the arts. Gloria Estefan will host “The 2021 Kennedy Center Honors” on Sunday night, June 6, on CBS.
Three cheers for Fox Broadcasting for giving a reprieve to “Call Me Kat,” which stars Mayim Bialik, Leslie Jordan and Broadway veterans Cheyenne Jackson and Swoosie Kurtz. The show, which reminded me of the classic ensemble comedy “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” didn’t generate big ratings this past winter but Fox executives are giving it a chance to find its audience.