November 11, 2023
LONG IN THE BOOTH
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were nicknamed "The A Team" when they joined Cris Collinsworth to form Fox's top NFL broadcast crew in 2002. There were even promotional ads shot featuring Aikman dressed as Mr. T. Buck and Aikman have long outlived that and have added something else neither could have imagined. In their 22nd season together, they have become the NFL's longest-tenured broadcast team. The first 20 years were at Fox before they moved to ESPN's "Monday Night Football" last year. Buck and Aikman surpassed the legendary duo of Pat Summerall and John Madden, who worked together for 21 years on CBS and Fox. Summerall and Madden split up after the 2001 season when Summerall went into semi-retirement and Madden moved to "Monday Night Football." "It means a lot to me because my dad (the late Jack Buck) was a partner to both Pat and John. I knew them when I was a kid," Buck said. "I know there was a lot of respect there. It's just the years just kind of fly by and somebody goes, 'Oh, by the way you are passing Madden and Summerall.' That was surprising to me." The Buck-Aikman-Collinsworth booth lasted for three seasons (2002-04) before Collinsworth left for NBC in 2005 after it got the rights to "Sunday Night Football." Aikman thought he would only be doing games for a couple of seasons before moving on to something else. "The fact that I'm still doing it 23 years later is shocking to me, but I think there's a lot of good fortune and luck that goes into that," Aikman said. "There's some other great broadcast teams that, for various reasons that had nothing to do with themselves, weren't able to continue. So the fact that even recently ESPN regarded our work that they wanted both of us just means a lot." Aikman and Buck hardly knew each other when they were paired together. Buck was hired by Fox when it started doing NFL games in 1994 and split time between regional games and working in the studio the first eight seasons. When Aikman retired from the Dallas Cowboys after the 2000 season, he was hired by Fox and was assigned to the network's No. 2 team with Dick Stockton and former Cowboys teammate Daryl Johnston. It didn't take long though for the two to strike up a friendship, similar to what Buck did with Tim McCarver and John Smoltz, who were his baseball partners at Fox. "I think you need to put as much work on the personal relationship as you do the professional. I don't know that everybody does that," Buck said. "I know a lot of stories of broadcast partners that have been together for a nice chunk of time that didn't really enjoy being with each other. I just can't imagine being in that situation in this kind of a Job when you're relying on each other in front of millions of people live." The Buck-Aikman move to "Monday Night Football" has also boosted what can still be considered one of the premier packages in sports. This season's average of 15.4 million viewers is up 14% over last season. Part of the bump can be attributed to nearly the entire schedule also airing on ABC due to the writers strike delaying the fall television season. Through nine weeks, the NFL is averaging 17.2 million viewers per game, a 7% increase over last season. It is also the league's highest average viewership at this point since 2015. Both noted that doing the Thursday night games on Fox from 2018 to 2021 was great preparation for Monday night. It also means seeing more of the league compared to the same teams multiple times. "You have a good feel for what the importance is for the teams that you're covering that night and where they fit into the bigger picture along with two or three of the hottest stories in the league," Buck said. It's also clear the move to "Monday Night Football" has energized both, especially Aikman, who said his memories of watching Football weren't from Sundays but from Monday nights. "To be a part of that history and lineage is really special. But in addition to that, ESPN paid a lot of money for us to be there in that booth and call the games. And so we didn't want to disappoint anybody or let anybody down. We wanted to live up to what the expectations were of us and why we were brought over. "So it was good. And it continues to be good." ■ Troy Aikman and Joe Buck ■ Pat Summerall and John Madden ■ Jim Nantz and Tony Romo ■ Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis ■ Kevin Harlan and Sam Wyche ■ Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen ■ Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy ■ Jack Buck and Hank Stram ■ Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden ■ Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth ■ Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen ■ Bob Costas and Bob Trumpy ■ Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth ■ Al Michaels and John Madden ■ Frank Giff ord, Al Michaels, and Dan Dierdorf ■ Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier ■ Frank Giff ord, Don Meredith and Howard Cosell ■ Marv Albert and Paul Maguire
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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