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Magic Saves KMPC, but Station’s Report Was Still Off Base

Has KMPC lost it?

Last week, the station went overboard on a rumor that Magic Johnson had been offered the Laker coaching job.

This week, midday co-host Paola Boivin supposedly stole program director Len Weiner’s car in a stunt to promote a sponsor’s car security system.

Is the station so desperate for ratings and to please sponsors that credibility no longer means anything, that every day becomes April Fool’s Day?

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The Magic report, denied by all parties, was a nice little rumor. There would have been nothing wrong with afternoon co-hosts Joe McDonnell and Doug Krikorian having a little fun with it. Surely, Jeff from Tarzana and Ed from Orange would have had lots of opinions about Magic replacing Randy Pfund.

But it hardly was a major story, particularly since it was unsubstantiated.

What McDonnell and Krikorian should have done was get Magic to come on the air to be confronted with the rumor. That’s what they did Thursday, a week later than they should have.

It was an entertaining and enlightening 25 minutes of radio.

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“Since you guys started all this last week, everywhere I go, people have been calling me ‘Coach,’ ” Magic said.

But he still denied that Laker owner Jerry Buss had offered him the job.

Magic said that at some point, if Buss were interested, they would sit down and talk about it.

“You guys should have said you want me to be the coach rather than reporting that I’d been offered the job,” Johnson told the co-hosts.

Krikorian and McDonnell agreed that they wanted Magic to be the coach, adding that they would campaign for it.

In an interview with Channel 2’s Jim Hill last Sunday, Magic indicated he would consider coaching the Lakers if Buss offered him part of the team.

Then there was the Boivin incident. Boivin, supposedly a responsible journalist, was asked by KMPC management to participate in one of the most ridiculous capers in the history of sports radio.

On the day that Jim Valvano died, the lead story on the KMPC afternoon show was that Boivin had lost her mind and, in a fit of temper, had stolen Weiner’s car.

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With McDonnell telling listeners this was no joke, and with Krikorian wondering, over and over, if Boivin had any prior arrests, this schlocky routine went on for 75 minutes before McDonnell finally explained that it was a “demonstration” of the value of a car security system.

McDonnell even proclaimed that KMPC was performing a community service.

Are these people from another planet?

On the money: From TNT commentator Hubie Brown: “If Danny Manning is worth $5 million, Ron Harper worth $4 million and Ken Norman worth $3 million, as they claim they are, then the Clippers should be a better team than the Houston Rockets.

“The only Rocket who gets that kind of money is Hakeem Olajuwon, and all he did was finish the season No. 1 in blocked shots, fourth in scoring, fourth in rebounding, 12th in shooting percentage and 13th in steals.

“It’s OK to have big dreams, but you’d better have big potential and play up to that potential.”

Brown, who will be in Chicago with TNT tonight for the Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, and in Houston with TNT Saturday for Game 2 of the Clipper-Rocket series, worked seven Channel 13 telecasts during the regular season as a fill-in when Bill Walton was absent. So he is something of a Clipper expert.

“There are times when they have looked like they can play with anyone in the league, but I have also seen the opposite,” he said before the Clippers lost, 117-94, at Houston on Thursday night.

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Of the Rockets, Brown said: “Sure, they were the hottest team in the NBA after the All-Star break, but when they needed to win their final two games to ensure home-court advantage in the second round of the playoffs, they didn’t get it done, losing to Dallas and San Antonio. That shows some vulnerability.”

Landmark deal: NBC is not only pleased about extending its exclusive contract with the NBA through the 1997-98 season, as announced Wednesday, the network is also ecstatic about the structure of the deal.

After NBC earns a certain amount, it will share remaining profits with the NBA. What NBC gets in return is a reduced rights fee. The network will pay only about 25% more than the $600 million it paid for the current four-year contact.

Said Dick Ebersol, the president of NBC sports: “This deal is unique in the annals of sports-rights deals. Both parties are happy. And our profitability is assured through the life of the deal, and that is an extraordinary situation to have.”

This is the first major rights deal of its type and may signal an end to what some network people have called irresponsible sports bidding.

“In the late ‘80s, the bidding for Barcelona by my company and for baseball by CBS set the tone for insanity in our industry from which we may never recover,” Ebersol said.

“Hopefully, machoism is dead in big-time TV sports negotiations. In the past, network executives who went to the bidding table were only interested in a trophy, a rights trophy, they could bring back, regardless of the risk.

“I don’t believe any of us television executives would have jobs much longer if that mentality was to continue.”

TV-Radio Notes

Mike Ditka, the Chicago Bears’ deposed head coach, will join NBC as a studio analyst next season, and will also work on the network’s golf telecasts, trying to bring an amateur’s perspective. He has a handicap between five and seven. . . . This weekend is heaven for basketball fans. There will be 10 NBA playoff telecasts over the next three days. . . . “NBA Inside Stuff,” the popular Saturday morning show produced by NBA Entertainment, will become a year-round show when the new NBC contract goes into effect with the 1994-95 season. . . . ABC’s Kentucky Derby coverage begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m., with post time about 2:35. ESPN’s pre-Derby special and Churchill Downs race coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. . . . KMPC offers ABC radio coverage, beginning at 2 p.m. . . . Jim McKay will anchor the TV coverage, with Al Michaels, who did King playoff hockey the last two weekends, serving as co-host. Also on the ABC crew will be Charlsie Cantey, newcomer Steve Cauthen, the former jockey, and race caller Dave Johnson.

Johnson must have had blinders on when he called the Californian at Hollywood Park last Saturday for ESPN. He didn’t notice that winner Latin American was coming on from way back until the longshot almost had the lead on the backstretch. Maybe he was worrying too much about his traditional “Down the stretch they come” call to notice any minor details. Meanwhile, Hollywood Park’s Trevor Denman picked up on Latin American’s charge on the far turn. When are the networks going to realize that Denman is the best race caller in the business?

The toughest job for ABC producer Curt Gowdy Jr., with a wide-open Derby field, may be deciding which three horses should get an isolated camera from start to finish. Gowdy’s first Derby as the coordinating producer was Ferdinand’s in 1986 and he has had a pretty good run since, although he missed with longshot Lil E. Tee last year. Gowdy is not letting on who might be his three picks this year. “It’s a superstition with me,” he said. “No one will know except the crew.”

The most perplexing admission by Mike Tyson in his interview with Star Jones on “NBC Dateline” this week was not that he no longer wants to box. It was that, although money goes through his hands like water, he is closer to promoter Don King than ever. . . . Bobby Bonilla will be a guest of Arsenio Hall Monday night. . . . ESPN’s half-hour tribute to Jim Valvano, shown Wednesday afternoon and also Thursday night, will be repeated again Saturday at 10:30 a.m.


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