They were good questions, questions that needed to be asked of Dennis Rodman:
“Don’t you think you are being a distraction, causing this whole circus and prolonging your signing? Don’t you think that’s kind of being selfish for someone trying to be a team player?”
They were posed not by a grizzled reporter, but by Lisa Guerrero. She plays a villainess on the NBC daytime soap opera “Sunset Beach,” but in real life she is anything but. And the one-time Ram cheerleader has shown that, in less than a year as a sports reporter for Channel 2, she is more than just a pretty face.
She is a versatile broadcast journalist who one day can do a light feature on places in Hollywood that Rodman might frequent--a tattoo parlor, a hair salon, a lingerie store--and the next do a serious postgame report from a UCLA-Syracuse basketball game, as she did last weekend.
Guerrero’s question preceded Rodman’s tears during Monday’s news conference at Planet Hollywood.
At first, Rodman said, “I’ve been a team player, honey! . . . For you to say something like that, you’ve got problems.”
The Times’ Bill Plaschke, coming to Guerrero’s defense, shot back at Rodman, “I say you’re selfish too. She’s not the only one who thinks you are selfish. . . . You’ve kept the Lakers waiting 2 1/2 weeks.”
Rodman, before breaking down, said, “It’s amazing. I’m not going to never win at this game of basketball. No matter what I do in this league, no matter what I do for the game of basketball, I’ll never win.”
Later, Guerrero said, “I felt bad that I contributed to upsetting him. I felt maybe I should have gone up and apologized.”
She owed no apology. She had asked a fair question, and her colleagues in the media backed her up. She is one of them.
MORE THAN A WHIM
Becoming a television sports reporter is not something Guerrero did on a whim.
She grew up in Huntington Beach, attending Edison High and Golden West College, and frequently went to sports events with her father, a social worker with the Salvation Army, and her younger brother. Her mother, Lucy, died of cancer when Guerrero was 8.
She was a Ram cheerleader from 1983-87 and the squad captain her final year. Her biography one year said she aspired to become an actress and a sports reporter, which brought snickers from some.
Today, she is both. She plays the evil Francesca Vargas on “Sunset Beach.”
The connections she made with the Rams led to a job with the Atlanta Falcons as the team’s entertainment director. She was in charge of the national anthem, the halftime show and postgame activities. At 24, she was the youngest--and only female--entertainment director in the NFL.
Three years later she went to the New England Patriots in the same position. While in Boston, a guest appearance on a radio sports-talk show led to her own TV show on New England SportsChannel.
In 1994, she returned to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and also to look for work as a sports reporter.
It took awhile, then everything happened at once. She got the “Sunset Beach” part and the Channel 2 job on the same day--April 22 last year.
“My father told me to go buy a lottery ticket that day,” she said.
Her father is Walter Coles, her brother Richard Coles and the credits on “Sunset Beach” list her as Lisa Guerrero Coles. Guerrero was her mother’s maiden name and she uses it in her honor. She is simply Lisa Guerrero in the sports world.
IN THE NEWS
Joe McDonnell, having been hired by KFWB for the 3-7 p.m. shift, is back to doing sports reports and breaking stories. It may be what he does best, and he’s happy about it.
“After 10 years, I was burnt out on doing sports talk,” he said.
At KFWB, McDonnell joins a formidable team of Bret Lewis, Ted Sobel, Rod Van Hook and Joe Cala.
It was noted in this space recently that San Diego’s XTRA (690) beat L.A. sister station XTRA (1150) (KXTA are the official call letters) in the last Arbitron ratings book in L.A. But Roy Laughlin, the general manager at 1150 and sister station KIIS-FM, points out that may be bogus because the ratings made no sense. He produced a letter from Arbitron stating, “We truly are embarrassed about the number of errors and plan to audit diaries.”
Laughlin also noted that he never said people in L.A. didn’t want to listen to 690’s Lee Hamilton, as Hamilton claimed. Laughlin is right. What Laughlin said in January 1997, when 1150 went to all sports, was, “My pitch to Jacor is that people in Los Angeles don’t care about San Diego sports. When Bobby Ross left the Chargers, that’s all Hacksaw [Hamilton] could talk about.”
Also, Mike Thompson, 1150’s operations manager, said his station had nothing to do with McDonnell and Doug Krikorian not doing the 11 p.m.-3 a.m. shift on ESPN radio for vacationing Todd Wright this week. “I think ESPN is just going to use them later,” Thompson said. “We’d like to see Joe get the work.”
Viewers get a choice with tonight’s Laker-Clipper game at the Great Western Forum, Rodman’s Laker debut. It will be on both Fox Sports West, with Chick Hearn and Stu Lantz, and Channel 9, with Ralph Lawler and Bill Walton. You make the call. . . . FX wraps up its five-game college basketball package with a good one--Arizona at Stanford on Saturday night at 7:30. . . . KRLA has made a deal with the Galaxy to carry 30 of their 32 regular-season soccer games.
Is 1150 turning into a halfway house for NBA misfits? First there was Karl Malone, now the station is close to a six-figure deal with Rodman for him to do phone-in segments for both the AM station and KIIS-FM, and also to make appearances at a nightclub on behalf of both.
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What Los Angeles Is Watching
A sampling of L.A. Nielsen ratings for Feb. 20-21, including sports on cable networks: *--*
Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Pro basketball: Seattle at Utah 4 3.4 10 Boxing: Tony Lopez vs. Hector Quiroz 9 3.1 7 Golf: Nissan Open at Riviera 2 2.7 8 Track & field: D.C. Invitational (tape) 4 2.5 8 Boxing: Paulie Ayala vs. David Vasquez 34 1.7 5 College basketball: Utah at Fresno State 7 1.3 4 College basketball: Kentucky at Arkansas 2 1.1 3 Hockey: Mighty Ducks at Vancouver 9 0.9 2 Cable Network Rating Share
Boxing: Felix Trinidad vs. Pernell Whitaker HBO 4.1 8 Boxing: Oscar De La Hoya vs. Ike Quartey (tape) HBO 3.3 7 Golf: Senior GTE Classic ESPN 1.0 3 College basketball: Providence at Villanova ESPN 0.8 2 Hockey: Kings at Calgary FSW2 0.7 1 College basketball: Clemson at Duke ESPN 0.6 2 College basketball: California at Washington FSW 0.5 1 Pro basketball: Dallas at Clippers FSW2 0.3 1 Tennis: ATP Kroger/St. Jude Classic FSW 0.3 1 SUNDAY Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Pro basketball: Lakers at Seattle 4 10.6 23 Pro basketball: Detroit at San Antonio 4 5.9 16 Golf: Nissan Open at Riviera 2 5.9 15 Pro basketball: Houston at Orlando 4 5.4 13 College basketball: Syracuse at UCLA 7 2.3 6 College basketball: Michigan at Indiana 2 1.2 3 Hockey: Colorado at Dallas 11 0.4 1
Cable Network Rating Share Auto racing: Dura Lube/Big Kmart 400 TNN 1.5 4 Hockey: Pittsburgh at Philadelphia ESPN 0.5 1 Golf: Senior GTE Classic ESPN 0.3 1 Soccer: Chile vs. U.S. ESPN 0.3 1 Tennis: ATP Kroger/St. Jude Classic FSW 0.2 1
Note: Each rating point represents 50,092 L.A. households. Cable ratings reflect the entire market, even though cable is in only 63% of L.A. households.