Bill Graff, the coordinating producer for ABC, ESPN and ESPN2's
coverage of the Women's World Cup, has vowed that the networks
won't wrap this year's tournament in red, white and blue. In 1999
ABC drew criticism for its jingoistic approach: For example, in
the final, ABC gave viewers "keys" to a U.S. victory but did not
break down China in similar fashion; and after Brandi Chastain's
winning penalty kick, ABC waited five minutes before showing a
reaction shot of the Chinese squad. "We were very pro-American in
our broadcast," Graff admits. "We will cover this as a tournament
with 16 teams." ABC got off to a good start with its presentation
of the U.S.'s 3-1 win over Sweden on Sunday. Announcers J.P.
Dellacamera and Wendy Gebauer Palladino were evenhanded in their
analysis, and the broadcast covered Swedish storylines.
ESPN may soon become a Spike Lee joint. The director is working
on a pilot script based on his 1998 basketball movie, He Got
Game, that he hopes will lead to a series on the network. The
film starred Bucks guard Ray Allen (now with the SuperSonics) as
Jesus Shuttlesworth, the top college recruit in the U.S., and Lee
says the series would revolve around a new character:
Shuttlesworth's cousin, Ecclesiastes, who has succeeded Jesus
(now in the pros) as the country's hottest high school star.
"Hopefully ESPN will give us the go-ahead to shoot in the
spring," says Lee. Would Lee again cast an NBA player as the
lead? "I don't know if we can get a pro," he says, "but he'll
have to be able to ball." ... Yankees haters, look away. ESPN
Classic will air four new SportsCentury shows on the Bronx
Bombers in October: a two-part show on the history of the team
airing Oct 6-7 and biographies on Yogi Berra (debuts Oct. 13) and
Derek Jeter (debuts Oct. 17).