When David Michaels was young, he and his older brother, Al, often would put on a variety show for their parents, Jay and Lila Michaels.
Jay was in the entertainment business, working for many years as a booking agent for such variety shows as Perry Como’s.
So performing seemed to come naturally to Jay Michaels’ two sons.
Al was always the star of the show, David the behind-the-scenes guy.
Today, Al, 44, and David, who will turn 39 Wednesday, are both performing in the sports broadcasting business.
Al, the respected ABC announcer, is still the star, and David, a producer for CBS Sports, is still behind the scenes.
Both will be working this busy holiday weekend in which 10 college bowl games--including 7 Monday--and 4 National Football League playoff games will be televised.
Al will announce the Sugar Bowl for ABC Monday night, beginning at 5:30, PST, with regular partners Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford.
David will produce the CBS coverage of Saturday’s 9:30 a.m. NFL playoff game between Philadelphia and Chicago.
The assignment was given to Michaels’ crew, which includes announcers Verne Lundquist and Terry Bradshaw and director Andy Kindle, as a reward for their work during the regular season.
It was known at the start of the season that the No. 1 team of Pat Summerall, John Madden, producer Bob Stenner and director Sandy Grossman would get one of the playoff games this weekend--in this case Minnesota at San Francisco at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Ted Shaker, CBS Sports’ executive producer, said early on that a determination on who would work the other game would be made at the end of the regular season, thus setting up a competition among the crews.
Michaels’ team, a longshot, beat the odds and won.
David Michaels, a University of Denver graduate, worked for a small weekly newspaper in the Denver area for five years and also dabbled in the psychedelic light-show business.
Later, he produced documentaries and that led to a sports broadcasting career.
In 1981, he was hired by Van Gordon Sauter, then the president of CBS Sports, to produce Pat O’Brien’s journalistic pieces.
Later, he gained considerable recognition for his work on the Tour de France bicycle race, winning 4 Emmys in 6 years.
Videotaped events, such as the Tour de France, were regarded as his forte, but he also produced some football games, usually those such as Tampa Bay at Detroit.
Three years ago, he hooked up with Bradshaw, who was then on shaky ground with CBS.
Recalled Michaels: “Terry said to me, ‘You must be dead meat. They must want to get rid of you because they’ve already told me they don’t like me and I’m finished after this season.’
“We could have been depressed and hung our heads. But we took it as a challenge, and said, ‘We’ll show ‘em.’ ”
And show ‘em they have, particularly this season. Bradshaw has been getting rave reviews. So has play-by-play man Lundquist.
Kindle, a free-lancer who doesn’t even have a contract, has moved up to No. 2 football director at CBS.
And David Michaels, in his own way, has finally become a star.
Add Michaels: David lives in Agoura with his wife, Cathy, and their children, Megan, 10, Andrew, 6, and Jake, 4. Al lives in Brentwood.
The two brothers, who moved from Brooklyn to West Los Angeles with their parents in 1958 and attended Hamilton High School, often get together to watch sports telecasts and critique them.
“We did that as kids, and we’re still doing it,” David said. The difference is now they’re sometimes critiquing their own work, offering each other advice.
“What a dream it would be to work a game with Al,” Michaels said.
Now that CBS will begin doing baseball in 1990, David Michaels sees that as a possibility, presuming CBS might try to lure Al away from ABC.
“I’d love to do baseball with Al,” David said. “We’ll just have to see what happens.”
Last add Michaels: Al at times has been portrayed as an egotist who is overly sensitive to media criticism.
“People misinterpret Al,” David said. “There may be times when he is too sensitive. But he can take criticism. He can take being poked fun at.
“What bothers Al is when reporters aren’t thorough and don’t fully investigate a story. He has his own strong principles in that regard and expects others to have the same.”
Turn of events: It’s funny how things work out sometimes. When NBC gave up the Rose Bowl to ABC, it was a sad day for Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen, who had announced the past eight.
Said Enberg: “I remember the look in the eyes of (NBC executives) Art Watson and Ken Schanzer when they approached me to give me the news. I thought they were going to tell me I was fired.”
But now Enberg and Olsen, along with sideline reporter Reggie Rucker, are working the top New Year’s Day bowl game, the Fiesta.
“It’s a happy way to begin the new year,” Enberg said. “West Virginia, the little school, trying to knock off Notre Dame, the popular national power. You couldn’t ask for a better script.”
Enberg, who grew up in Armada, Mich., when it was a town of about 800, used to root against Notre Dame as a kid. Then he fell in love with the school when he first visited it as a UCLA basketball announcer in the early 1970s.
“But, being from a small town, I also have strong feelings for West Virginia,” he said.
The 2 p.m. Rose Bowl, going almost head to head against the 1:30 Fiesta Bowl, may have lost some luster, but ABC is still going all out in its coverage.
ABC will use 17 cameras, including super slo-mo, reverse angle and telestrator cameras.
That’s 4 more than the network used for such games as USC-UCLA and USC-Notre Dame. But producer Bob Goodrich of Malibu says it still will be a conservative telecast.
“Don’t expect bells and whistles just because this is ABC’s first Rose Bowl,” he said. “We’ll stick to basics. The extra cameras are there mainly to provide better and more complete replays.
“The secret is to not try and do too much.”
The announcers will be Keith Jackson and Bob Griese, with Mike Adamle reporting from the sidelines.
Other New Year’s bowl announcing assignments:
--For CBS, Lundquist and Pat Haden at the 10:30 a.m. Cotton Bowl, with John Dockery on the sidelines.
--For ABC, Gary Bender and Dick Vermeil at the 10:30 a.m. Florida Citrus Bowl, with Becky Dixon on the sidelines.
--For NBC, Tom Hammond and Joe Namath at the 10 a.m. Hall of Fame Bowl, with Armen Keteyian on the sidelines, and Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy at the 5 p.m. Orange Bowl, with Jim Gray on the sidelines.
Add Trumpy: He has taken some heat for his tirade against the officials during last Saturday’s Houston-Cleveland game, and rightfully so.
When an inadvertent whistle blew a play dead on what replays showed to be a lateral instead of a forward pass, Trumpy had a fit.
It’s OK for an announcer to disagree with a call, but Trumpy went beyond the bounds of professionalism. He sounded as if he was one of those end-zone Cleveland fans who wears a dog mask and throws snowballs at players.
It will be a busy weekend for Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen. They were in Phoenix part of this week preparing for the Fiesta Bowl, then left for Cincinnati Thursday, where they’ll work Saturday’s 1 p.m. playoff game between Seattle and the Bengals. . . . Marv Albert and Paul Maguire will announce the Houston-Buffalo game Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
Channel 9 will offer a half-hour “Best of the Bowls” wrapup show Monday from 8:30 to 9 p.m., with Scott St. James anchoring and Tony Richards producing. The half-hour special is an indication that Disney, the station’s new owner, is interesting in expanding sports coverage. . . . Kudos dept.: Channel 9’s year-end NBA special, shown on last Tuesday night’s Laker pre-game show, was excellent.
Prime Ticket, through a deal with SportsChannel, will carry 5 of the National Hockey League-Soviet Union “Super Power Faceoff” games. The first one will be Saturday night’s exhibition game between Dynamo Riga and the Kings at the Forum. SportsChannel commentator Herb Brooks joins the Kings’ Bob Miller. Other telecasts include the Central Red Army against the New Jersey Devils Monday, delayed at 7:30 p.m.
Deceiving viewers: Shame on Brent Musburger for saying Saturday’s Philadelphia-Chicago game would start at 9 a.m., PST, instead of 9:30. It’s the pre-game show that starts at 9. . . . And shame on Channel 4 for airing promos that implied Fred Roggin’s year-end special would be shown at 11 p.m. last Sunday. The show came on at 11:15. The idea was to attract viewers to the 11 o’clock news, which the promos did. The 15 minutes of news, which, by the way, gave short shrift to that day’s sports, got a 9.0 rating, same as the Roggin special.
Add Roggin special: The 9.0 was the highest L.A. rating for any show on NBC Christmas Day. Only 3 shows, “60 Minutes,” “Murder, She Wrote,” and a movie, “Gift of Love,” all on CBS, did better. And only “60 Minutes,” with a 14.5 and 33 share in L.A., got a better share than the 27 Roggin drew. . . . For those who missed it, Roggin’s year-end show will be repeated Monday night after the Orange Bowl.
Mike Smith, fired by Channel 4 last April, is back doing the sports this week. Both Roggin and Brett Lewis are on vacation, so the station asked Smith, who is running a production company in San Diego, if he could fill in. His schedule permitted it, so Smith, apparently holding no grudge, said yes. . . . Lewis, before going on vacation, went to Washington to fill in for George Michaels on the Sunday night “Sports Machine” show. Lewis, who has a nice dry wit, handled the assignment quite well. . . . KMPC’s Lisa Bowman Thursday was installed as president of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Assn., the first woman to head the 31-year-old organization.