ABC Lives on Edge With Dennis Miller

The hiring of Dennis Miller by ABC’s “Monday Night Football” is one of the boldest moves in sports television history.

Producer Don Ohlmeyer said that Miller is not being asked to fill Howard Cosell’s old role, that this is a different time and era.

But if ABC was looking for someone who is loved and hated, as was Cosell, the network may have found the perfect guy.

Some view Miller as brilliant and witty, others see him as smug, pompous and obnoxious.


Sounds like Cosell, doesn’t it?

Dan Fouts, who will join Miller and Al Michaels in the “Monday Night” booth, emerged as a legitimate candidate a few weeks ago, after ESPN’s Sterling Sharpe took himself out of the running by not returning phone calls to ABC, which was not exactly a smart move if he wanted the job.

The news of Miller’s hiring was kept under wraps until Thursday morning. It first broke on the “Mark and Brian Show” on KLOS-FM (95.5), although they had Ohlmeyer and Miller meeting at La Quinta Wednesday night, and Ohlmeyer said later he hasn’t been to La Quinta in two months.



Anyone watching those hooligans celebrating the Lakers’ championship Monday by setting fires and destroying cars had to wonder what those crazies could possibly be thinking.

A peek into such mind-set was provided by talk radio the next day.

Jim Rome invited any of the vandals to call his national show. Someone named John missed Rome but called Arnie Spanier and Dave Denholm at 2:50 p.m. on KXTA (1150) and claimed he “was one of those dudes jumping around.”

He admitted he set a few fires and broke one window.

“What’s the big deal?” he asked. “There were lots of cars out there.”

Why did he do it?

“The Lakers were awesome, man,” he said.

Spanier took off his dunce cap long enough to ask the right questions, although Denholm kept interrupting him.


Spanier pushed John until he confessed the real reason for the violence.

“Even Howard Stern would have totally approved,” John said.

So there you have it. Stern in particular and talk radio in general are to blame. Why is that not a surprise?


A new half-hour, 11-11:30 p.m. regional sports news show makes its debut Wednesday on Fox Sports Net.

“The emphasis is on local,” said Todd Merkow, general manager of Fox Sports Net in Los Angeles.

Similar shows have already make their debuts at Fox Sports Net regional networks in Seattle and Detroit. The plan is for each of Fox’s regional networks to have their own local show.

The anchors for the new show are Barry LeBrock, who has worked at CNN-SI and Florida stations, and Gaard Swanson, who comes from Seattle. Fox thought it had John Fricke of XTRA (690) in San Diego lined up as another anchor, but XTRA refused to let Fricke out of his contract.


The reporters on the new show will be Suzie Shuster and Lisa Guerrero. Shuster comes from HBO’s “Real Sports,” where she was a respected segment producer.


Wimbledon begins Monday, and for the first time the cable portion will be on basic cable. Turner sister networks TNT and CNN-SI have replaced HBO. TNT will offer 61 hours of primarily daytime coverage, with CNN-SI chipping in 28 hours of prime-time coverage. NBC has 35 1/2 hours.

The big news on the cable side is that Marv Albert will be doing the play-by-play on the men’s matches.

Albert has never done tennis before. Turner obviously is using him for name value.

The Turner commentators will be Jim Courier, with Albert on the men, and Martina Navratilova, with Barry MacKay on the women.

Why Courier?

“He showed a wonderful aptitude during his career for putting a different spin on things, for not being afraid to say something on his mind, and for not just saying something but telling you why it happened,” Turner sports producer Howard Zalkowitz said.

Courier isn’t the most personable guy in the world, but then neither is John McEnroe, and look how good he is. But asking Courier, a newcomer to television, to carry Albert, a newcomer to tennis, may be asking a bit much.


The Shane Mosley-Oscar De La Hoya fight drew 700,000 pay-per-view buys--at $49.95 apiece--and

$37 million in gross revenue. That ranks it second among non-heavyweight fights behind September’s

De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad fight, which had 1.25 million buys and $64 million in revenue. . . . Showtime continues its “heavy hitters” month Saturday with Mike Tyson vs. Lou Savarese from Glasgow, Scotland, at 9 p.m., delayed. Has there ever been less enthusiasm for a Tyson fight? . . . Recommended viewing: If it’s rough-and-tumble action you desire, check out the special two-hour “Toughman” show on FX tonight at 9. The debut show of the new season has a team of pro wrestlers taking on a team of pro football players in the amateur boxing competition. It’s wild. One improvement this season: Guerrero has replaced the inappropriately dressed Fairlie Arrow. Matt Vasgersian, Lawrence Taylor and Sean O’Grady are all back. . . . Recommended listening: Doug Krikorian and Joe McDonnell will have Fred Dryer in studio for their Sunday night, 9-midnight show on KABC (790) to talk about violence in sports, on and off the field.

Congratulations to executive producer Susan Stratton and Channel 9 for winning two local Emmys for its Laker coverage. Other sports winners included Fox Sports Net 2 for its Special Olympics coverage and its “Inside Cal-Hi Sports” show, and Channel 11’s Randy Kerdoon for reporting. . . . ESPN will examine the John Rocker situation in its weekly “Outside the Lines” program Sunday at 7:30 a.m.


What Los Angeles Is Watching

A sampling of L.A. Nielsen ratings for June 17-18:



Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Golf: U.S. Open (10:30 a.m.-7:45 p.m.) 4 6.7 17 Golf: U.S. Open (6:30-8:30 a.m.) 4 4.6 19 Baseball: St. Louis at Dodgers 11 2.2 6 Boxing: Steve Johnson vs. Jose Luis Castillo 7 2.0 5 College World Series: Stanford-Louisiana State 2 1.7 5 Baseball: Angels at Baltimore 9 1.3 3




Cable Network Rating Share Horse racing: Hollywood Park Today FSN2 0.3 1 Soccer: MLS, New England at New York/New Jersey ESPN2 0.3 1 Soccer: MLS, Tampa Bay at Galaxy ESPN2 0.1 0





Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Golf: U.S. Open (10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) 4 8.7 23 Baseball: Angels at Baltimore 9 1.4 4 WNBA basketball: Charlotte at Sparks 9 1.3 3 Auto racing: IRL Radisson 200 7 0.7 2 NFL Europe: Amsterdam at Rhein 11 0.7 2




Cable Network Rating Share Baseball: St. Louis at Dodgers ESPN 2.0 4 Drag racing: NHRA Pontiac Nationals ESPN2 1.1 3 Auto racing: NASCAR Pocono 500 TNN 0.8 2 Boxing: Hector Camacho Jr. vs. Manard Reed FSN 0.8 1 Auto racing: CART Grand Prix of Detroit ESPN 0.5 1 Horse racing: Hollywood Park Today FSN2 0.4 1 Synchronized swimming: U.S. Championships ESPN2 0.3 1 Baseball: Atlanta at Philadelphia TBS 0.3 1 Arena football: Florida at Avengers FSN2 0.1 0


WEEKDAY RATINGS: FRIDAY, June 16: Lakers at Indiana, Channel 4, 29.4/49. MONDAY: Indiana at Lakers, Channel 4, 39.2/56.

Note: Each rating point represents 51,350 L.A. households. Cable ratings reflect the entire market, even though cable is in only 63% of L.A. households.