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How About Some Resolutions from the TV Sports Types

December 28, 1995

TV sports tycoons aren’t big on New Year’s resolutions. They don’t mind making promises they don’t intend to keep, but they hate making promises they can’t keep.

So, in keeping with the spirit of the holidays, let’s make a few resolutions for them.

Dick Ebersol, president NBC Sports: In four months, he helped NBC buy rights to Olympic Games in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 for a total of $3.57 billion. NBC also paid $456 million for the ’96 Games in Atlanta.

So, his resolution is parsimoniously simple. He should cut his Visa card into teeny, tiny pieces, because the Olympics don’t take American Express.

Ted Turner, owner Turner Broadcasting: His Atlanta Braves finally won the World Series, on ABC and NBC, and the ’96 Olympics in his own backyard will be shown exclusively on NBC. The finale of the NASCAR season, the NAPA 500 in Atlanta, is on ESPN, and even TV fisherman Orlando Wilson, who wears a Braves cap, jumped from TBS to The Nashville Network.

Maybe Turner should resolve to put up a few ``No Trespassing″ signs and sit on his front porch with a shotgun. Just stay awake, Ted.

Rupert Murdoch, owner Fox Sports: In 1995, he put Mike Tyson on free TV for the first time in nine years. Granted, it was for only 8 1/2 minutes against Buster Mathis Jr., but that was long enough to get Fox its highest-rated evening ever.

Hey! When you’re talking free, time doesn’t count. Right?

And that brings us to Rupert Murdoch’s resolution: Get Tyson off pay-per-view and keep him free.

Michael Jordan, chairman, Westinghouse: This was an easy resolution to figure out. Change your name, and let the other guy take the blame. If I’d spent $5.4 billion to buy CBS, I’d want to change mine.

How about Shaquille O’Neal? That has a nice ring to it.

Seth Abraham, president, Time Warner Sports: Showtime has Tyson and heavyweight champions Frank Bruno (WBC), Bruce Seldon (WBA) and Francois Botha (IBF). Don King, who promotes them all, promises the unification of the world on Showtime. For HBO, Abraham has Riddick Bowe and a pair of has-beens in Evander Holyfield and George Foreman.

What Abraham needs is King’s number. Not his phone number, just his number. That should be his resolution.

OUT TAKES: ``Captain Custer, this is Captain Sitting Bull. Captain Sitting Bull, this is Captain Custer. Call the toss, Cus. He calls heads, it’s tails. ... All right, Captain Sitting Bull says you have to wait down at the bottom of the hill while all the Indians in the world ride down on you.″

Remember those words from the vintage Bill Cosby routine, ``Toss of the Coin″ on one of his earliest comedy albums, ``Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow Right!″

Tuesday night at the Fiesta Bowl, Cosby will get a chance to say those words for real when he makes the coin toss as part of his pregame involvement in CBS Sports’ coverage of the national championship game.

CBS announced on Dec. 1 that Cosby would unveil a new, half-hour sitcom, based on the British comedy hit ``One Foot In The Grave,″ in the fall of 1996.

Dragging out all of its stars for the big one, CBS also tentatively plans to have David Letterman make some sort of appearance at halftime from the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. ...

It looks like ESPN2 is taking a page from Tyson’s book to ensure its new series of outdoor shows is a ratings success. Rather than showing them in half-hour segments, each show will be 4-7 minutes long.

ESPN2 will begin televising outdoors programming six days a week in 1996. Weekdays, ESPN2 will block out the 6-7 a.m. and 6-6:30 p.m. ET slots for outdoors programming, as well as four hours each Sunday morning, beginning at 6:30 a.m.

ESPN will continue its four hours of outdoors programming on Saturday mornings, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET. ...

What a coup. Arnold Palmer is scheduled to appear on ``Golf Talk Live″ on The Golf Channel on Monday, Jan. 8. Wasn’t hard to talk him into it. He’s co-founder and chairman of the network.

Palmer appeared on the premier of ``Golf Talk Live″ last Jan. 17, prompting 6,000 calls.

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