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Casual Sex News - Miffed NFL may doom 'Playmakers'

| Casual Sex news | Miffed NFL may doom 'Playmakers'

Miffed NFL may doom 'Playmakers'

As a dramatic series, Playmakers has been more or less a success. As a ratings grabber, Playmakers has been everything for which ESPN could have hoped. But those two characteristics may not be enough to save the show and bring it back for a second season.

The NFL hates the show, which is about a fictional pro football team that deals every week with every problem the NFL has ever had and perhaps then some, including drugs, casual sex, spousal abuse, locker-room fights and homosexual players.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue went on CNN and called Playmakers a gross mischaracterization of our sport. Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who also severely criticized ESPN during the Rush Limbaugh-Donovan McNabb controversy, said it's certainly a possibility that the NFL could cut its ties to ESPN if the show continues. Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, who is on the league committee that negotiates television contracts, is also said to dislike the show.

Players union chief Gene Upshaw doesn't like it either. For crying out loud, even Warren Sapp has called it the worst show on TV and has stopped giving interviews to ESPN.

So ESPN is between a rock and a hard place. It doesn't want to alienate the NFL and put the network's Sunday Night Football package in jeopardy. But on the other hand, the show is a hit.

Through its first 10 episodes, Playmakers averaged a 1.85 rating, or 1.62 million households. In the cable TV world, anything over 1.0 is considered a good rating. The highest rated cable show, Nickelodeon's SpongeBob Squarepants, receives ratings in the low 3s.

Not only that, but most of the time, Playmakers has been the highest rated show during its 9-10 p.m. ET slot in the coveted 18-34 male demographic. Entertainment Weekly called the show the most powerful new drama of the season.

Neither institution -- the NFL or ESPN -- comes off clean in this issue.

The league is understandably sensitive about things that cast it in a poor light. But the NFL has brought this upon itself. There isn't a week that passes anymore without some news of NFL players caught in situations exactly like if not worse than those portrayed in the show.

Playmakers may well be one of the best new shows on TV -- it compares favorably with any of the West Wings or CSI's or Aliases out there -- but ESPN has gone too far with Playmakers. It wants the show to air at 9 p.m. in the East, but since it doesn't delay its feed to the West Coast, it first airs out here at 6 p.m. That is way too early for a show rated TV-MA (mature audiences) with language, violence and partial nudity to be on, especially on a network like ESPN that routinely shows live sports events at that same hour. A child flipping to ESPN expecting perhaps to see an NBA or NHL game could easily wind up finding something not intended for him to see.

That's irresponsible programming. ESPN regularly blacks out regions of the country when it shows games that would interfere with local telecasts of the same event; why can't it do the same for Playmakers and show it only at 9 p.m. or later in the West?

In any case, it should be interesting to see what develops with the show in the weeks ahead. It would be very rare for a show as popular as Playmakers to be taken off the air. But a network yielding to demands from outside sources certainly wouldn't be unprecedented. Just look at CBS and The Reagans.

ESPN says there is no timetable on renewing the program and that all factors will be weighed. The New York Post has reported the show will not return.

We're hoping our powers that be don't cave in to this pressure, Jason Matthew Smith, who plays linebacker Eric Olczyk, told Florida Today. But it's a big business. They're going to do what they're going to have to do.

Bruins duck TV: Don't be looking in the TV listings to find Saturday's UCLA-Oregon football game. It won't be televised.

ABC decided to show the Washington State-Arizona State game on KABC (Channel 7) and KEYT (Channel 3) at 12:30 p.m. and the network has exclusive rights to the 12:30 slot. That prevents anyone else -- such as Fox Sports Net -- from showing a game at that time.

Fox Sports Net offered to televise the UCLA-Oregon game, but said it could only do so if the game time was shifted to 7 p.m.

UCLA decided out of concerns about cold weather and other student activities going on this weekend, to keep the kickoff at 12:30 and forego the telecast. It'll be heard on KXTA (1150 AM) and XTRA (690 AM).

Fans looking for the game on TV will have to settle for tape-delay and probably need a satellite dish to find it. The YES Network (available on DirecTV on Channel 622), shows Oregon football games and will have Saturday's on at 11 p.m.

Notes: ABC is still looking for a partner to join Al Michaels on its NBA telecasts, which start Christmas Day. Michaels and former NBA player Mark Jackson were at Wednesday's Lakers-Raptors game at Staples Center in order to give Jackson an audition. Among the other candidates to be Michaels' sidekick are ESPN's Jack Ramsey (who would be a good choice) and former San Antonio Spur David Robinson are considered to be among the other leading candidates. ... Commentator Dick Vitale begins his 25th season Thursday at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York City on ESPN2. ...

Although it was taped before this week's controversial statements, it should be interesting to hear to Kellen Winslow Jr. interviewed by his father, Kellen Sr., on Fox Sports Net's College Football Saturday Kickoff Show at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Among the highlights is this quote from Junior about talking to reporters: I'm going to say what I say, I tell the truth, I don't BS around, I just tell how it is really. I just don't know how to get around it, you ask me a question, I'm going to tell you the truth. ... Dan Marino will look at The State of the Dolphins during The NFL Today Sunday on CBS. Conflict of interest, since Marino is a former Dolphins quarterback? Perhaps, but not as outrageous as Deion Sanders saying on the show he wants to be the next coach of the Atlanta Falcons. ...

Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel will have a cute touch at 6 p.m. Monday when host Dave Despain interviews animated character Speed Racer. It's part of a three-year deal the network has with DIC Entertainment. ... NFL Network, looking for programming, will show made-for-TV movie Heidi at 6 p.m. Monday. In 1968, NBC cut away from an incredibly exciting Raiders-Jets AFL game so that Heidi could start on time on the East Coast. Oakland came back and scored two touchdowns in the last minute of the game to erase the 32-29 lead New York had when NBC dumped out of the game and win 43-32. Delbert Mann, the movie's director; Dick Cline, the NBC executive who ordered the switch; broadcaster Curt Gowdy and Jets cornerback Johnny Sample will be interviewed.

Full credit for this article goes to: Ventura County Star, CA

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