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
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
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
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
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
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