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Weisman Is at Home in Series

This World Series is special to producer Michael Weisman. It will be his 20th for national television. He was the coordinating producer or executive producer for 15 at NBC, and this will be his fifth for Fox.

And it was 30 years ago that Weisman worked his first World Series -- as a production assistant.

Weisman was originally hired as a page by NBC in 1971. His father, Ed, who died in 1969, was a popular and respected publicist for NBC Sports.

Weisman moved up from page to production assistant within a year and was the coordinating producer of NBC’s baseball coverage by 1979. He was named the executive producer of NBC Sports in 1983, the year Vin Scully joined the network from CBS to become the lead baseball announcer.

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Technically, Weisman, then 33, was Scully’s boss. But he doesn’t look at it that way.

“It was just an honor to work with Vin Scully, recognized as one of the greatest baseball announcers of all time,” Weisman said. “The great thing about Vin, besides his expertise on the air, which everyone could see, and his mastery of the language and his knowledge of baseball, was that he was always the consummate gentleman.”

Weisman, a former New Yorker who now lives in Brentwood, learned about baseball production from the master, legendary director Harry Coyle. Weisman now enjoys that kind of stature as a producer.

The 1988 World Series was the last Weisman worked with Scully at NBC. And that was the year the Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson hit his dramatic home run in Game 1 against the Oakland A’s.

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“Everyone remembers Gibson’s home run,” Weisman said. “But what made that home run so dramatic was the way Vin set it up during the three-hour telecast. He knew just how important it was that Gibson wasn’t playing because of an injury, and he kept mentioning it. He kept talking about the challenge facing the Dodgers.”

Weisman remembers Scully reminding the crew in the production truck that Gibson might be able to pinch-hit.

“Because of Vin, several times we panned the bench looking for Gibson, which heightened the drama,” Weisman said. “A stage manager told us Gibson was loosening up in the clubhouse. So we were ready. And then Vin tells the audience, ‘And here comes Gibson.’

“It was Vin’s sense of the dramatic that made that moment, that home run, so special. I don’t know another announcer who could have set the scene so dramatically.”

Weisman, who has also worked World Series with such play-by-play legends as Curt Gowdy, Joe Garagiola, Bob Costas and Dick Enberg, is now teamed with Joe Buck.

“I’m thrilled to be working with Joe,” he said. “He’s the next great baseball announcer.”

But Weisman says Buck and Scully are different.

“As a producer, you do things differently, depending on the strengths of the announcer. With Vin, we could show him a shot of a sunset or a young fan in the stands and Vin would say something lyrical and wonderful.

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“With Joe, it’s fun to take advantage of his off-beat sense of humor and his pop-culture references.

“What Vin and Joe have in common is their tremendous knowledge of the game and their respect of the game.”

As the producer, Weisman oversees everything that has to do with the telecasts. The director selects the shots that go out over the air.

“I’m the viewer’s advocate,” Weisman says of his role. “I always think of the viewer first -- what he or she wants to see or hear, or doesn’t want to see or hear. If I think a replay is inconclusive, I’ll ask for another. If I think we’re showing too many shots from the stands or too many shots of the rally monkey, I’ll let Webbie know.”

Webbie is director Bill Webb, whom Weisman puts in a class with Coyle.

Weisman, whose baseball coverage has won numerous Emmy Awards for both NBC and Fox, likes to spread the praise. But he hasn’t done too badly himself.

World Series Notes

Those annoying virtual advertisements behind home plate, which first appeared during last year’s World Series, will again be part of Fox’s coverage. The virtual ads are controlled by the sales departments of Fox and Major League Baseball, not the Fox production crew.... Until this season, Buck was an announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that employed his father, Jack, for almost 50 years. Is he disappointed the Cardinals didn’t reach the World Series? “In some ways, I’m relieved,” Buck said. “I don’t have to field all those questions about bias. The only team I care about is the Fox production team.” ... Buck’s partner, Tim McCarver, worked 20 Giant games for the San Francisco Fox affiliate this season. He worked for the Yankees during the regular season in 2001, and they lost the World Series to Arizona. But McCarver worked for the Yankees the previous two seasons, when they won.

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Rory Markas and Terry Smith are not the only first-year Angel radio announcers. So is Spanish-language announcer Jose Mota, who works with Ivan Lara on XPRS (1090). Mota, the son of Dodger coach Manny Mota, has also done games in English. He worked a Dodger game with Kenny Albert for Fox last season. Says the Dodgers’ Jaime Jarrin: “Not only is Jose a fine announcer, he is also a fine gentleman.” XPRS’ listening audience increased 350% this season.... Mota will be co-host of a World Series special on KSPN (1110) tonight from 7-11 with Jerry Gardner. The show will originate from the ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney.

KSPN’s Joe McDonnell and Doug Krikorian will cover today’s pep rally, then Saturday and Sunday they will be broadcasting near Gate 2 at Edison Field from 1-4:30 p.m. Todd Donoho and Dave Stone will be on after the game from the ESPN Zone until 11 p.m.... Angel flagship station KLAC (570) and sister station KXTA (1150) will simulcast a special preview show from 4-7 p.m. today with Markas and Smith.... Featured on KLAC’s “Down in the Dugout” pregame show at 4 p.m. Saturday will be an interview Markas taped with Enberg, who was the Angels’ lead announcer from 1973 to ’78.

Short Waves

NBC’s Tom Hammond, 57, had heart surgery in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday and probably will miss the Breeders’ Cup telecast Oct. 26.... Tim Hardaway has been hired as an NBA studio analyst by ESPN.... HBO has signed Jim Lampley to a multiyear contract. Among his duties, he will be host of a 12-part series on the best of HBO boxing, scheduled for next spring.... Recommended viewing: The Laker season will be previewed in a special titled “4-Ward March” on Fox Sports Net Sunday at 4 p.m.

In Closing

Jim Pells, who died this week of complications after heart surgery, wore many hats. He was a respected and well-liked sports producer for Fox Sports Net, did video graphics for the Dodgers and compiled statistics for many Southland announcing crews. After graduating from Westchester High in 1970 and UCLA in 1974, he was a fixture at Dodger Stadium, the Forum and more recently Staples Center. He was 50 and the father of two young children.

Said the Kings’ Bob Miller, “Jim was a good friend and a tremendous asset. He worked quietly and efficiently behind the scenes and was more knowledgeable about a variety of sports than anyone I know. Anytime I had a question, he always had the answer. He helped a lot of announcers.”


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