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Bonds a Natural on TV, Too

Barry Bonds, who appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno Wednesday night, came across very well.

He was glib, flashed a nice smile and handled himself as if he were a regular on the talk-show circuit.

“Told you I wasn’t nervous,” he said after returning to his dressing room, seemingly satisfied with his performance.

Bonds seemed to be in a good mood, even though his San Francisco Giants’ lead in the National League West is dwindling.

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Because the Giants were off Wednesday, he flew to Los Angeles that morning and picked up a $135,000 Ferrari he purchased from a dealer in Woodland Hills.

Nothing like a new Ferrari convertible to pick up one’s spirits.

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Considering the Giants are in the middle of a heated pennant race, one might wonder why Bonds would agree to a “Tonight Show” appearance at this time.

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Bonds’ agent, Dennis Gilbert, explained that the appearance was arranged in July, when the Giants had a comfortable lead.

Anyway, by the time Bonds arrived at the NBC studios in Burbank in his flashy new convertible, he had temporarily put the pressures of the pennant race out of his mind. His main concern seemed to be locating some vanilla ice cream.

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Leno went into Bonds’ dressing room before the show to go over a few things they would talk about.

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Later, on the show, Leno threw a curve at Bonds, asking about his relationship with the media, which, as Leno knows, hasn’t always been the best.

But Bonds, smiling, laid off that one, saying, “The media has been pretty good to me, especially in San Francisco.”

A little later, Leno asked if it was true that Bonds, as a child, was a mama’s boy, and Bonds admitted he was.

“You’re probably going to ask me about this, too, so I might as well tell you,” Bonds said. “I used to imitate Janet Jackson and when we’d do Gladys Knight and the Pips, I was always Gladys.”

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Said Leno: “Ladies and gentlemen, transsexual ballplayers, on the next ‘Geraldo.’ ”

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Leno asked Bonds about his interest in acting, and Bonds, his eyes lighting up, said he plans to pursue it.

He said he has already done a two-hour special, “Jane’s House.” The HBO show, starring James Woods and Ann Archer, is scheduled to be shown in November. He also appeared in “Rookie of the Year” (in a Pittsburgh Pirate uniform).

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Off the air, Bonds said Gilbert is negotiating with Francis Ford Coppola about a role for Bonds in a television movie, “Top of the Ninth,” to be shown next year as part of CBS’ new “Playhouse Nineties” series.

Maybe there will be politics in Bonds’ future as well.

After the “Tonight Show” taping and after stopping at a Studio City deli for a beer and a milkshake--both for himself--Bonds attended a dinner party for Gov. Pete Wilson, held at the Beverly Hills home of Jeff and Gayle Rosenthal.

Rosenthal, who owns TV Fan Fare, a national supermarket advertising company based in Valencia, had invited Gilbert, who in turn invited Bonds.

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Bonds fit in well with the elite of Los Angeles, charming the 40 or so guests, willingly posing for pictures and sharing stories with the governor.

Bonds had turned over the Ferrari to his lifelong friend, artist Bob Hoskins of Woodland Hills, who would drive it back to Bonds’ home in Atherton. Bonds was going back to San Francisco that night in a private jet.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad day off for Bonds.

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Baseball woes: The fact that baseball will get less than half as much per season from ESPN, in a six-year deal announced Thursday, is not surprising because the sport has been a financial bust for the cable network.

Baseball isn’t doing much better on radio. Also announced Thursday was a $50.5-million, six-year contract with CBS Radio. That replaces a $52-million, four-year deal.

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Fight night: The Julio Cesar Chavez-Pernell Whitaker fight tonight at San Antonio, backed by a $10-million promotion, is expected to break all pay-per-view records for a non-heavyweight fight.

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Last year’s Hector (Macho) Camacho-Chavez fight was seen in 800,000 homes. Tonight’s $29.95 show, which begins at 6 p.m. and features Azumah Nelson and Terry Norris in separate undercard bouts, might attract as many as 1 million subscribers.

In the Los Angeles area, 66% of the cable households, or about 1.5 million, will offer the fight. It is also being shown in about 60 closed-circuit, bar-restaurant locations, including Legends in Long Beach, Santa Monica and Costa Mesa.

TV-Radio Notes

The Raiders, coming off an impressive victory over the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday, face the Seattle Seahawks Sunday at 5 p.m. in a TNT game that will also be carried by Channel 9. Pat Haden, who will work the game with Gary Bender, said he thought a key for the Raiders was the offense keeping the ball long enough to let the defense rest. “With Jeff Hostetler in there, it wasn’t three downs and out,” Haden said. . . . Former Raider defensive lineman Bob Golic, who will be TNT’s guest analyst Sunday, agreed. “Last year, it seemed we got breaks for only a few minutes at a time.” . . . Add Golic: He has a role in a new NBC show, “Saved by the Bell: College Years.” It begins its regular run next Tuesday night at 8.

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Here we are in the middle of some good pennant races, but CBS has no baseball this weekend. . . . Prime Ticket announced Thursday that, beginning next season, it will televise 25 Padre games in San Diego County. The new agreement means no more pay-per-view telecasts, something the Padres have done for the past 10 years. Is it any wonder the Padres have had trouble selling them? . . . NBC’s NFL game Sunday is a Super Bowl rematch, Buffalo at Dallas, at 1 p.m., with Dick Enberg and Bob Trumpy reporting. NBC can’t televise an early game because the Rams are at home. But the CBS game Sunday at 10 a.m. is also a good one, Philadelphia at Green Bay, with Verne Lundquist and John Madden reporting.

Did you notice Monday that Frank Gifford finally got tired of Dan Dierdorf repeating his comments? As the Redskins were driving downfield after Brian Mitchell mistakenly downed the kickoff at the one-yard line, Dierdorf called it “the drive of the day.” Said Gifford: “Didn’t I just say that?” He had. Dierdorf must not have been paying attention. . . . The Redskin-Cowboy game got an overnight rating of 20.7 in the nation’s major markets, the best for an opener since 1987. The game had a 19.1 rating in Los Angeles, a 43.0 in Washington and a 49.6 in Dallas. Seems “Monday Night Football” is doing quite nicely even though Howard Cosell is long gone. Maybe it’s the game and not the announcers after all. One thing, though. Bring back Hank Williams Jr. and his “are you ready for some football?” Rock videos don’t fit in with football.

ABC has quite a college football tripleheader Saturday, beginning with Notre Dame-Michigan at 9 a.m. It will be followed by USC-Penn State at 12:30 p.m., with Roger Twibell and Lynn Swann calling the action. Brent Musburger and Dick Vermeil will call the nightcap, Washington-Ohio State at 5 p.m. . . . While CBS has been getting disappointing ratings for U.S. Open tennis, the network’s 17 golf tournaments this year averaged a 3.9 rating, up from 3.4 last year.

Respected producer Nick Zaccanino is leaving KMPC today. He will work on Jim Rome’s new “Talk2" show on ESPN2, which launches Oct. 1. . . . Doug Krikorian and Joe McDonnell will be back together today on KMPC at 2 p.m. Pedro and Ramon Martinez will be among their guests. Krikorian and Brian Golden will do the afternoon show all next week, when McDonnell is on vacation. . . . Clipper Coach Bob Weiss and Times sports editor Bill Dwyre will be Irv Kaze’s guests tonight at 6:30 on KIEV. The show, as usual, will be repeated Sunday at noon. . . . Attention cycling fans: Remember back on July 25 when a portion of CBS’ Tour de France coverage was preempted because the NASCAR Diehard 500 ran late? Well, CBS will show you what you missed in a special one-hour encore presentation on Oct. 16.

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