While it was fully expected the National Football League would get all of its existing television 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 the National Hockey League broadcasting rights away from NBC Sports. The pact starts this coming fall and ends six years later.
Of concern to hockey fans was the news 75 games a year will be broadcast exclusively on a trio of streaming services the Disney Corporation 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 New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and the New Jersey 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 has to allow a local broadcast station to simulcast the game if the Jets or Giants are playing.
It’s not coincidental Disney+ is reviving its “Might Ducks” franchise with a weekly series subtitled “Game Changers” which will again star Emilio Estevez as somewhat burned-out Minneapolis pee-wee hockey coach, Gordon Bombay.
Hockey, which has always lagged behind baseball, football, and basketball, 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 fire fighter. 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.
Denis Leary told reporters during a FOX Zoom conference he has it in his contract each episode of “The Moodys” must contain at least one hockey scene. He may have been kidding but the series which is being filmed in Montreal (although we are supposed to think it’s Chicago) will prominently feature the ice sport. Leary has also raised a lot of money for charities playing in celebrity hockey contests held at NHL rinks including Madison Square Garden.
Queens native Elizabeth Perkins plays Sean’s wife, Ann. Perkins is best known for starring in major ‘80s and early ‘90s films 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.
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.
New 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 when he was 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.
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 become 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 which 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.
Luisana 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 movie houses as the Kew Gardens Cinema. Currently it can be viewed on the urbanflixtv.com streaming service which launched two years ago by former actor and now Los Angeles businessman, Herb Kimble.