Angels, Astros Face Off In AL Divisional Matchup Tonight On WNB

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

All eyes will be on the Astros and Angels tonight as the teams face off in an AL West divisional showdown on ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball.

Tonight’s matchup is the rubber match in the teams’ three-game series. It marks only the second time this season that ESPN has traveled to Houston for its MLB coverage. Lance McCullers is slated to get the start for the ‘Stros while Garrett Richards is expected to get the start for the visiting Angels. Richards’ last time on the mound was last Thursday against Minnesota. He took the loss in the game, allowing four hits, three runs, three earned runs, and three walks and one home run over eight innings pitched. He struck out five batters En route to the Angels’ loss. Mike Morin replaced Richards in the ninth, allowing only one hit, no runs, no earned runs, no walks, no home runs, and struck out two batters.

McCullers’ last time taking the mound was this past Thursday against the Red Sox. He pitched five innings in the team’s 5 – 4 win over Boston, allowing six hits, two runs, two earned runs, three walks, and one home run along the way. He also struck out two batters before heading to the dugout. While those numbers paint one picture, McCullers didn’t do too badly having faced twenty-four batters in his time on the mound, throwing fifty-two strikes in eighty-nine pitches.

The Angels currently lead the AL West division sitting near even with the second place Astros. Both teams are far better at home than on the road so far on the season with the Angels going 32 – 21 (h) and 23 – 23 (a), and the Astros going 34 – 17 (h) and 22 – 28 (a). The Angels are 6 – 4 in their last ten games versus Houston’s 7 – 3 record in its last ten games.

Dave Flemming will have the call for tonight’s NL showdown. He will be joined in the booth by analyst Rick Sutcliffe. Fellow analyst Doug Glanville will be in the outfield covering both teams’ defense while analysts Eduardo Perez and Eric Wedge will be in the Astros’ and Angels’ dugouts respectively with all of the latest from both teams. Perez is a former Astros coach and Angels 1991 first round pick. Tonight’s game will be simulcast on television and online via ESPN, ESPN3, and WatchESPN. More information on tonight’s game is available online now along with all of the latest MLB headlines at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight

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ESPN Sets Its Sights On NL Playoff Race Sunday And Monday On SNB, MNB

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

August, for most people, is part of what is known as the “dog days of summer.” It is one of the hottest times of the year weather-wise. It is also one of the hottest times of the year for Major League Baseball. That is because things really start to get heated in the race for the playoffs. And this weekend things will definitely get hot in the Big Apple as the Mets host the Nationals on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell in a National League showdown that will definitely have playoff implications for both teams.

Sunday’s game will be the closer in a three-game series between the NL East foes. The series kicks off Friday evening at Shea Stadium. Noah Syndergaard is expected to take the mound for the hometown boys while Jordan Zimmerman is expected to start for the Nats. Syndergaard’s last time taking the mound was Tuesday against the Padres and was credited with the win in that game. He pitched eight innings, allowing only three hits, no runs, no earned runs, and no walks En route to the win. He also struck out nine batters and allowed no home runs.

Zimmerman’s last time on the mound was Tuesday against Miami. Zimmerman took the loss in Miami’s 4 – 1 win over the Nats. He allowed eight hits, three runs, three earned runs, and two walks over six innings and struck out only two batters before being pulled in the seventh.

The Nationals currently lead the National League East division with the Mets trailing in second place by only a single game. Right now the Mets sit precariously in seventh place in the National League standings only a spot ahead of eighth place Arizona, who sits right now at 48 – 51 on the season. New York currently sits 52 – 48 on the season and split its last ten games going 5 – 5 along the way. However, the team is currently in the midst of a three-game win streak that includes a win Tuesday night against the Padres in New York. Tuesday’s game is part of a three-game home stand against the Padres that wraps Thursday night at Shea Stadium. By the numbers, the Mets are much better at home (35 – 16) than on the road (17 – 32). That bodes well for the Mets as the team continues its home stand this weekend against the Nats as they, too are better at home than on the road, going 28 – 19 at home and 24 – 27 on the road so far this season.

Dan Shulman will have the call for Sunday night’s game between the Mets and Nats. He will be joined by his SNB cohorts-analysts Curt Schilling and John Kruk—in the booth. Reporters Buster Olney will also be on hand with all of the latest news and updates on the game and from around the league. Broadcast is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET. It will be preceded, as it is each week, by Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet, at 7pm ET. Karl Ravech will anchor the broadcast and will be joined by analyst Rick Sutcliffe and reporter Nicole Briscoe. Those that won’t be near a TV Sunday night can still catch both broadcasts online via WatchESPN. Sunday’s game will be simulcast in Spanish via ESPN Deportes for ESPN’s Spanish-speaking audiences.

*             *             *

Monday night on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball presented by USAA, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates open a three-game series between the NL Central foes. This series, too has playoff implications as both teams are in the hunt for the post-season with Pittsburgh currently sitting second in the National League at 58 – 41, five and a half games back from the NL-leading Cardinals. Chicago sits sixth in the National League standings at 52 – 47. Pittsburgh has split its last ten games, going 5 – 5 along the way and has won its last two games. Before hosting the Cubs next Monday, Pittsburgh looks to finish off the Twins tonight in the teams’ two-game series before heading to Cincinnati to face the struggling Reds in a four-game series that wraps this Sunday night. While Pittsburgh is far better at home than on the road, the team’s series against Cincinnati could improve its road record if the Reds’ struggles continue. And that could play into Pittsburgh’s momentum as it opens its series against the Cubs Monday night. Dave O’Brien will have the call for Monday’s game. He will be joined in the booth by analysts Aaron Boone and Dallas Braden for additional commentary and coverage.  Monday’s game will be simulcast on television and online via ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and WatchESPN. Currently there is no information regarding who will take the mound for the Pirates or Cubs for Monday’s game. Fans on both sides of the ball can keep up with that information online now along with all of the latest baseball news at:

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

A Chef’s Life Should Be On Every Reality TV Fan’s “Menu”

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

This fall, PBS’ hit reality series A Chef’s Life returns for its third season. This is according to a post on the series’ official Facebook page. While it might not seem like it, that’s not too far away. Luckily though, there is still just enough time for fans of the only reality series really worth watching to catch up. Fans can do just that with the show’s first season. A Chef’s Life: Season One was released on DVD earlier this spring. The thirteen episode run offers audiences shows through a variety of reasons why it stands head and shoulders above all of the garbage out that claiming to be reality television beginning with the show itself. Unlike all of the commercial shows that populate the broadcast and cable ranks A Chef’s Life shows in its debut season to have none of the pretense that is all too common among those shows. In simpler terms, it actually feels real rather than scripted. In regards to the box set itself, audiences will appreciate that the episodes that make up Season One are separated out across both of its two discs. This is one of those rare cases in which it is okay that continuous play is not incorporated into a DVD, Blu-ray or box set. The reason for this will be discussed later. Last but most definitely not least of all that makes A Chef’s Life: Season One so enjoyable for audiences is that not only are the episodes separated out as standalone episodes but the cooking segments featured within the episodes are themselves separated out for audiences’ viewing. Even better is that PBS didn’t resort to using them as bonus features. Rather they were made standard with the episode selections. Whether for this reason, for the separation of the episodes, or for the very presentation of the episodes themselves, audiences will see in watching A Chef’s Life: Season One that this first season shows why it is the only reality TV series worth watching and in turn once again why PBS has proven itself to be the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

PBS’ hit reality series A Chef’s Life is the only reality series worth watching today. It stands head and shoulders above all of the garbage out there today claiming to be “real” television. It stands so tall primarily because it lacks the pretense that marks all of those other shows (I.E. Welcome To Sweetie Pies, Cake Boss, American Chopper). Rather, it really does feel real. Star Vivian Howard and her husband are not the flashy figures that audiences are so accustomed to seeing in those shows. Nor are their daily lives the flashy type of stuff that is portrayed in those other, obviously scripted series. Everything that goes on in the lives of Vivian and her staff feels completely organic. So if there some clever editing that happens, the end result doesn’t feel like all of those other shows. What’s more, unlike those shows, A Chef’s Life includes throughout its lead season to have its own amount of educational content. For example, when Vivian wants to make the beloved southern treat called cracklins she goes to one of the local hog farms and learns how ham is cured, treated and generally prepared for market. Audiences learn the importance of keeping the meat in certain conditions versus the belief of having it in other conditions. It is a really enlightening moment. Audiences also learn the intricacies of properly cooking things like collard greens and proper growth of said products as well as what makes Muscadine grapes one of the most underappreciated of the grape family. Many audiences will be interested to discover that Muscadines are used often used for wine production. There is much more in terms of the show’s educational content that audiences will find quite intriguing. What is noted here is just a small sampling of the series’ educational content. That content, when partnered with series’ overall lack of pretense and feeling of true reality makes fully clear why the content that makes up the first season of A Chef’s Life makes it stand head and shoulders above all of the other series out there today claiming to be reality.

The overall content that makes up the body of A Chef’s Life in its first season is plenty of reason within itself for audiences to watch this collection of episodes. Collectively, they show the series to be one that stands head and shoulders above all of the other series claiming to be reality TV. In turn, the content presented here shows yet again why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today. The content presented here, as strong as it is, is only one of a handful of reasons that audiences will appreciate the first season of A Chef’s Life. The separation of the episodes throughout the set’s two discs is another reason that audiences will enjoy Season One. Unlike so many other DVDs, Blu-rays, and box sets out there, A Chef’s Life: Season One doesn’t have an autoplay function embedded within its discs. This means that after each episode’s end audiences are taken back to the title menu so as to choose which episode they want to watch after the chosen episode ends. To some viewers, the view has been that this is not necessarily a good thing. The reality though, is that it is actually a very good thing. It means that if audiences don’t want to have to sit through a certain number of episodes to get to the episodes that they want to see, they need not worry. The disc will take audiences right back to the title menu and let them choose if they want to watch a specific part of the given episodes such as the cooking segment (which will be discussed shortly) or a given chapter of the episode in question. Viewers can even do this before playing out the episode(s). Simply put, separating the episodes out without the autoplay function gives viewers more options. To that extent, this is definitely a good thing in the grand scheme of Season One. It still is not all that makes A Chef’s Life: Season One so enjoyable for audiences. There is still that matter of the episodes’ segmentation at yet another, deeper level.

The separation of the episodes in the first season of A Chef’s Life is itself a very good thing despite what some viewers might have people think. The content within said episodes makes this season in whole even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages. Both elements together offer plenty of proof as to why A Chef’s Life is the best reality TV series out there today and in turn why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television in whole today. For all of the importance of the noted elements, there is still one aspect of the set worth noting that makes it enjoyable. That last remaining element of the set’s enjoyment is the segmentation of the episodes’ cooking segments as their own viewing option in each episode. PBS has given audiences the chance in this season to watch each episode’s cooking segment by themselves completely separate from the episodes. This means that those that want to try out the recipes features in each episode can do so at their own leisure. They don’t have to speed through the given episodes to get to said segments since they have been separated out along with being presented within the course of each episode. On yet another level, there is no sense of pretense in these segments either. It would be so easy for Vivian to be like all of the celebrity chef’s on Food Network and other networks. But she doesn’t take that opportunity, instead coming across just like a down home chef. She talks to audiences rather than at them or even down to them. It makes her more relatable to audiences and brings everything in this set full circle proving once and for all why A Chef’s Life: Season One is a great start for the series and why it is the best reality TV series out there today. In turn it proves once more without any doubt why PBS remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today.

A Chef’s Life: Season One proves in plenty of ways why A Chef’s Life is the best reality TV series out there today. The lack of pretense in its overall content separates it clearly from its competitors (if one even wants to consider those other shows competition). The separation of the episodes within the course of the two-disc set makes it even more enjoyable despite what some might want to believe. The separation of the episodes’ cooking segments and the overall lack of pretense within said segments brings everything full circle proving once and for all just how what makes A Chef’s Life: Season One a great debut for a show that even now as it prepares to debut its third season, is the best show within its genre today. In turn, all three elements together show once more why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today. A Chef’s Life: Season One is available now on DVD and can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=54994066&cp=&sr=1&kw=a+chefs+life&origkw=A+Chef%27s+Life&parentPage=search. More information on A Chef’s Life is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news and more at:

Website: http://achefslifeseries.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AChefsLife

Twitter: http://twitter.com/chefsouth

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Hyde Park Live 1969 Is One Of Eagle Rock’s Most Intriguing Live Stones Shows

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s latest entry in its Rolling Stones From The Vault series is one of its most intriguing installments yet.  That is thanks in large part to its stylistic approach.  The overall presentation of this recording is more along the lines of a hybrid concert documentary than a pure concert presentation unlike its predecessors.  The concert’s set list is also of note in the concert’s interest.  The set list presented here is relatively short, boasting only a total of eight songs at a total run time of fifty-five minutes.  That’s relatively short in comparison to other Rolling Stones concerts and concerts from other bands and artists in general.  It could be a reflection of the band having lost one of its founding members only days prior to the show.  Regardless, it still stands as an important element of the show that makes it such an intriguing watch.  The production values of the concert are also of note.  The efforts of those charged with restoring the concert’s audio and video for its presentation here are to be commended.  On another level, audiences will note a distinctly different shooting style here than that typically expected in a concert recording.  It is a more guerilla style presentation.  Interestingly enough that very style of shooting gives the recording a feeling that makes it stand out even more.  And that is just scratching the surface of this recording.  The band’s stage presence is notably unlike what audiences are used to seeing from its members.  The recording’s companion booklet generates even more interest to the concert.  All things considered, From The Vault: Hyde Park 1969 proves in the end exactly why it is the most interesting of Eagle Rock’s live Rolling Stones recordings.  Audiences that recognize all of the noted elements will agree with this critic’s sentiment and in turn will note its importance to the whole of Eagle Rock’s From The Vault series thus making it that much more worth the watch.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s latest entry in its Rolling Stones From The Vault series is one of its most intriguing installments yet.  That is thanks in large part to its stylistic approach.  More simply put, it is not presented as a standard concert recording.  Rather it is more along the lines of a hybrid concert documentary feature.  That argument is made as audiences get more than just a concert here.  Rather, audiences get a concert as well as commentary from front man Mick Jagger at various points throughout the show.  The commentary in question hits on the economics of touring, his personal thoughts on having to soldier on without Brian Jones, and much more.  Some of the commentary is first-hand with Jagger on camera as he discusses the noted subjects while other pieces are edited together with footage of the band performing and of people taking in the concert in various ways.  Those various ways in which the audience takes in the concert includes singing, dancing, and even sailing (yes, sailing) sailboats near the stage as they take in the concert.  Given the use of such an approach is not exactly anything new in the world of concert recordings and tour documentaries.  But it is also not an overly common practice among directors tapped to head up the projects.  This includes even more recent recordings from much less experienced bands and performers.  To that extent, the fact that it is not so overly common of an approach makes it a rather important element worth noting in this recording.  It is not the only element worth noting, either.  The concert’s set list should be noted as another key element to the concert.

The set list that makes up the body of The Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park show is just as important to its interest as is the stylistic approach taken in the concert’s overall presentation.  The set list presented in this concert is relatively short in comparison both to other, previously released Rolling Stones concerts and those of other bands past and present. That is because the concert presented here is what audiences saw in the concert’s original television broadcast.  It is noted in the concert’s companion booklet that the set list, which actually consists of fourteen songs rather than eight, was altered quite a bit for television.  That would explain why six of the set’s songs are not included here and why the show is out of order from the actual set list, which is listed in the booklet.  Considering this Eagle Rock is not to be held responsible for what is and isn’t presented especially if those remaining six songs might not be available right now. One can only hope that with this knowledge, Eagle Rock will manage to get hold of said songs somewhere down the road and eventually assemble them together for the full concert as it was meant to be seen by the band’s legions of fans around the world. This aside even presenting the concert’s original TV broadcast, the set list makes for its own share of enjoyment. Audiences get to hear in this set list the band’s first-ever live performance of its hit song ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ and of ‘I’m Yours & I’m Hers.’ The band’s take on ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ here is quite different from what was laid down on its studio version. That version is considerably more upbeat versus this much slower take. Being slower takes nothing away from the song by any means. Rather it makes it just as interesting. Keeping that in mind it is a good thing that it was left in this presentation to say the least. It is just one more way in which the show’s set list proves to be so integral to the overall interest of Hyde Park Live 1969. The set list having been noted, it still is not the last reason that Hyde Park Live 1969 proves to be such an intriguing recording. The production values presented in the “broadcast” are also worth noting.

Both the approach taken by those at Granada TV for its broadcast of Hyde Park Live 1969 and the set list chosen by those same individuals do quite a bit to make this recording intriguing. For all of the interest that both elements generate together, they are hardly all that is worth noting. The production values exhibited in the recording are just as worth noting. The efforts of those charged with re-mastering the recording for its presentation here are to be applauded for their efforts. Considering the recording technology available at the time of the concert’s original recording both the audio and video have stood the test of time quite well. And those that brought it back to life made it look and sound just as good if not better. Thanks to their efforts a certain sense of nostalgia is established in watching the concert. On another level, the guerilla-style approach taken by the camera crew and associated editing makes the presentation even more interesting. It really catches the show’s energy especially when the camera operators start using the quick zoom in and out on some of the crowd shots later in the show. The shots of the crowd in its various activities throughout the concert do just as much to heighten the concert’s energy. These are just a couple of ways in which the work of the camera crew and editors make the production values even more important in the grand scheme of Hyde Park Live 1969. Together with the work of those that restored the concert for its presentation here, the production values in whole prove in the end to be just as important as any other element of the recording in making it such an interesting watch. The collective production values of the recording partnered with the show’s abbreviated set list and the overall approach to the concert make wholly clear why Hyde Park live 1969 is such an intriguing recording. Being such an intriguing presentation it becomes a piece that every Rolling Stones fan should see.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s newly released Rolling Stones concert From The Vault: Hyde Park 1969 is the most intriguing of the series’ recordings to be released so far. That is thanks to the stylistic approach taken by the people at Granada TV to the presentation in whole. The show’s abbreviated set list adds even more interest. It makes one wonder if the songs that were cut from the band’s concert are available for a full concert experience. The work of those that originally recorded the concert and of those that resurrected it for its presentation here make it even more worth the watch. All three elements come together to prove why From The Vault: Hyde Park 1969 is a piece that every Rolling Stones fan should see. That is not to ignore the band’s stage presence throughout the broadcast which is notably reserved and the concert’s companion booklet, which adds even more insight into the concert. It isn’t just some random booklet tossed in to be added. It gives an in-depth history of the concert and the significance of the concert presented here. The band’s somewhat reserved presence on stage is likely linked to the fact that the band had lost one of its own only days before the concert. Such a loss would have a tough impact on any performer, especially knowing that the show must go on. Whether for this factor, for the companion booklet or for any of the other noted elements, From The Vault: Hyde Park 1969 shows in the end to be quite the interesting watch regardless of audiences’ fandom. From The Vault: Hyde Park 1969 is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

MVC Heads Discuss New ESPN Deal In Media Conference Call

Courtesy:  Missouri Valley Conference/ESPN/NCAA

Courtesy: Missouri Valley Conference/ESPN/NCAA

Officials with ESPN and the Missouri Valley Conference announced this week that both sides had come to terms on a new deal. The deal in question gives the worldwide leader in sports media rights for the next ten years. That means that it gives ESPN increased coverage across its various platforms on television and online through the 20023 – 2024 academic year. In celebration of the announcement leaders from some of the MVC’s participant schools took part in a media conference call along with ESPN VP of College Sports Programming IIan Ben-Hanan. Among the topics covered in the call were the impact of the deal on the conference’s ability to recruit and generally puts it on par with colleges and universities in other conferences, the impact of the deal on local coverage within given markets, coverage of MVC games on ESPN’s platforms and much more. The full transcript of yesterday’s conference call is included below for all fans of the Missouri Valley Conference and audiences in general.

Transcript of ESPN & Missouri Valley Conference Media Call to Announce 10-Year Rights Extension  

Doug Elgin: Good morning, everyone. We are here in Chicago at Loyola University’s School of Communications to announce a long-term extension of the ESPN rights agreement, which clearly signals a new era for our conference. For the term of this new agreement, which runs through the ’23/’24 academic year, the MVC and its member institutions will work together to produce thousands of live athletic events that will be distributed on ESPN3. The co-branded network that will launch next month, The Valley on ESPN3, serves to recognize that our conference continues to be committed to remaining competitive in a fast-changing NCAA Division I landscape. This exponential increase in exposure will bring significant emphasis to men’s and women’s basketball and every conference-sponsored sport.   A key aspect of this campus-based television model will be the involvement of students in the production of live athletics events, and this student involvement is central and foundational to this agreement. Students majoring in broadcast journalism, communications or other areas of study will receive hands-on experience that will enhance their qualifications and opportunities for employment in television media or related fields.   I’m very proud of the commitments that our president’s council and directors are making to our student-athletes and athletic programs and the campus communities in general. We believe ESPN’s commitment to our league through this new agreement is an acknowledgment of our men’s basketball competitiveness that we can compete at the highest level. Certainly Wichita State’s rise to national power and Northern Iowa’s strong run in recent years have opened doors for us, but we’re seeing a much more competitive league in men’s basketball top to bottom.   This new network will provide opportunities to promote academic programs and showcase individuals throughout our campus communities. We are extremely grateful that the Missouri Valley’s relationship with ESPN will be stronger than ever. I think today’s announcement represents one of the biggest steps the MVC has taken in the modern era. This new network will be a game changer for our league. We are a basketball-centric league and the extension of our ESPN agreement ensures we will continue to compete on a national stage. Coaches in every sport will use this exposure to recruit more effectively.   I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Rosalyn Durant, senior vice president of ESPN’s college networks, and Brent Colborne, the director of programming and acquisitions for their hard work in helping to make this strengthened relationship with the MVC possible. I would also like to commend the MVC Associate Commissioner Jack Watkins and media consultant Rick Chryst, who played critical roles in this process.

Ilan Ben-Hanan: Good morning. The Missouri Valley Conference has been a significant contributor to ESPN’s college sports content since our early years, and with this deal will continue to play a key role into the next decade, nearly 40 years since our first agreement. This extension places the conference and its member institutions at the forefront of innovative sports coverage.   The MVC has been a pioneer in embracing new technology. National coverage of multiple sports that didn’t previously exist to millions of fans is the latest example.  We all see the on-campus production initiative as an opportunity for both academic and athletic programs at the member institutions, with benefits that include hands-on experience for students and unprecedented exposure for sports that might otherwise not have been shown on television.

Larry Lyons: The relationship between The Valley and ESPN is tremendous news for MVC men’s basketball. It will provide national coverage for each Valley school as we produce live events for ESPN3. Not only are we building a national platform for our teams to showcase themselves, we are extending the reach of all of our institutions to friends, family, fans, alumni, prospective student-athletes and prospective students. I’m confident that each campus will strive to produce the highest quality of live content and use the creative talents of students and staff to tell the story of inside each contest.

David Wright: This is an exciting day for Drake University and our production. For 28 years we’ve been doing sports production at Drake. We are incredibly excited about the expertise that ESPN will give us and the infusion of excitement of students getting involved in more and more production. This is a new era. What I really am excited about it is it will put athletes and academics together at a greater level than we’ve ever before had at Drake. We are very excited about this.

Gregg Marshall: It obviously gives us an opportunity to play on national television and many different stations across the ESPN brand. We had GameDay here last year. I thought it was tremendous the way they were received as well as the way the league presented itself with the Northern Iowa team coming in as a top-10 team, we were top-10. It just made for great theater with the regular-season title on the line. I know we have the mandate from the league that our teams are supposed to try to participate in the exempt tournaments that are showcased on ESPN over the holiday season. We’ve been doing that for several years. We’re just excited and ecstatic to be able to showcase our league and our program at Wichita State on ESPN.

  1. Coach Marshall, how do you think this agreement maybe puts you closer, or more on par with, other conferences that you not only compete against but recruit against?

Marshall: Well, I think any time you can appear on ESPN, it helps you with not just your regional but national exposure. You can go anywhere and get ESPN channels, and now with ESPN3 from your laptop, which I’ve learned how to do myself. We have an Apple TV. We can watch just about any game now. The Valley is going to be able to talk about how many times you’re on television.   I think every game we played last year was on television. If it wasn’t on ESPN or CBS, then it was on statewide in Kansas. That was only a handful of times. We were on regionally and nationally 20-something times last year, which is great.  Now the other schools will be able to say the same thing. I think it really helps us from a recruiting standpoint, as you mentioned.

  1. Doug, what does it mean to the brand to have your Olympic sports more exposed to a larger audience? Secondly, you’ve been the commissioner for 28 years. There have been a lot of historic moments as commissioner. How does consummating a deal with the number one brand name in the world, how does that rank among your many accomplishments as the commissioner?

Elgin: It’s right up there at the very top. We’ve never underestimated the promotional power of ESPN. When you think about networks that you can partner with, you certainly look to the worldwide leader. I think through the years we’ve had probably seven or eight different contracts with ESPN. This one kind of fills in all the cracks, all of our sports programs are going to benefit. I think the programs that are going to gain the most are those that have been exposed the least. Those would be the Olympic sports. Baseball has been great. We’ve had three teams in the baseball tournament this year, and many years in past history.   I do think this is going to help our recruiting, our coaches, and every program will have the opportunity to tell recruits and their families they’ll be able to watch their sons and daughters play every game of their college careers essentially at home.

  1. Doug, I was curious, what is the financial benefit for the schools out of this deal?

Elgin: Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to talk about the finances of contracts that we have with media companies. I can’t really expound upon that.

  1. Commissioner Elgin, can you speak to the role that the students will have in this production? Is it the full scope of it? To what extent? Is there any concern or consideration for how this would impact quality since you’re lining that up against perhaps some more veteran, more experienced crew members?

Elgin: I’d like to kick that question to associate commissioner Jack Watkins who has been out in the field.

Jack Watkins: ESPN has been largely involved in this process even when we did not have a contract. There have been production professors, if you will, that have been involved with conference calls that have actually made trips to campuses to meet not only with athletic staff, but individuals like Professor David Wright at Drake, to help convey what ESPN expectations are, that production guidelines are met.   To answer your question about the involvement of students, it can be from either running cameras to directing or producing.  The long-term is to have as many students engaged and involved. This whole process with the build-out on campus began in earnest in September of 2014. As Doug communicated earlier, we are looking for a launch date on ESPN at or around September the 4. Our institutions as well as ESPN personnel have been in consistent dialogue to move forward and to produce the very best product we can on air.

Ben-Hanan: In addition to all the benefits and procedures and plans that Jack has described, the opportunity for a deal like this to help deepen and diversify our talent pool, find future people that can work for us or other media companies, is a great asset and part of this deal, something we’re excited about.

  1. Doug or Jack, I want to make sure I understand right. In previous years I could watch Valley games on ESPN3.  Educate me how this is different going forward. Secondly, I noticed in the release, there was a buildup, because it talks about a minimum of basketball games in the six-year agreement. Explain how this is going to roll out. What will fans notice different than in past years? 

Elgin: As Gregg Marshall pointed out, people are becoming much more comfortable accessing live content through mobile apps and WatchESPN. That’s going to be the biggest change. Every game we play in conference in men’s and women’s basketball will be televised in the early years of this agreement. We’re going to start with the court sports, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball. There’s going to be an eagerness by our conference institutions to produce as many events as they can. They will have a blank page to write on. They can produce as many outdoor sporting events as they can capably handle in the early years. But we’re going to peak at literally 800-plus events a year in the final six years of the agreement.   We’re stair-stepping up to that with numbers that we’re capable of achieving. This is going to be a big endeavor for our schools. I think there’s going to be a lot of excitement on campuses. We’re going to tell stories that couldn’t be told on linear networks. We’re going to have opportunities to talk about individuals on campus, faculty members, students that are achieving in the classroom. I just think there’s going to be a whole new wave of opportunity to market and sell our schools.

  1. What does it mean for local packages then, like in Wichita?  Does that go away? 

Elgin: It does not. I think this contract very carefully protects our institutional packages at levels of production in past years, most recent years. We also have protection of our regional syndication. That’s been very important to us, the opportunity to produce games and put them on the regional networks. The best part of that is outside of our five-state footprint, ESPN3 will continue to carry all these games nationally. Again, I credit ESPN for allowing us to spread our games across multiple networks and platforms. We couldn’t be happier with the state of our television operation.

  1. Mr. Ben-Hanan, you talked about the student involvement with the ESPN3 product, with the involvement of each respective Missouri Valley Conference school. I guess on-air is going to be included with that student help. If that’s the case, is there any worry from the on-air quality you are going to get from your student broadcasters?

Ben-Hanan: Thanks for the question. I think all of these things are a process. I think we have had experience with other students involved in our productions at other schools and conferences. So we’re going into this with some expertise and some knowledge of that. Generally speaking, what we’re talking about here from student involvement does not always extend to on-air. Oftentimes we’re talking about the ability to help run cameras, the production truck, run graphics, and the ability to build up and ramp up to production and direction roles.   Certainly there could be an opportunity here or there for students to have some on-air roles. We’ve done things in past years literally involving students embedded in the student section, which gives you a perspective you can’t get otherwise. I think, generally speaking, anyone who rises to that role, we have an expectation of professionalism.  There would be rehearsals and opportunities that hopefully will allow for a level of quality. Having said that, there certainly will be a learning curve. I think we have an expectation that if fans are tuning in to a game, no matter how it’s produced, that it’s credible, that it’s professional, and that it is functional and allows fans to enjoy the game every bit as much as they would otherwise.

  1. Mr. Wright, I know from the Indiana State University campus, there’s a lot of talk about the students being involved primarily with the on-air stuff. From the Drake perspective, what are you planning on doing with your students? 

Wright: Excellent question. We’ve been doing video production for about 28 years in my time at Drake, starting from a delivery truck where we had folding tables. We train our students in a number of the production classes, but now we also have a production division that’s doing work for our steaming and scoreboards. We’ve already made investments in equipment in our production area in the journalism school that are actually very similar to the switcher, a little more powerful than the switcher we will be using in the athletics area. So we are starting to infuse that technology.   What we’re really excited about is the expertise ESPN brings on the graphics side, on the ‘look’ side, and also on the on-air talent side. We’re using a lot of students for on-air talent for some of our cablecasts streaming now. I think the initial thing will be working on the packages, behind the scenes, really understanding what’s going on in the different sports that would be hard for a crew that was coming in from out of town to really know that insight.  That’s where I see that coming eventually. I hope with training, the recruiting is going to change. We’re excited about releasing this to prospective students to say, Look at the opportunities you have to start working towards this.  Hopefully by the time they get to their senior year they’ll be up to snuff. My background says we can do this; we can produce the quality to be on ESPN.

  1. Doug, what is a good audience for the ESPN3?  What are kind of the projections since more and more people are cutting the cord on cable a little bit?  Is this a move towards the future? 

Elgin: I think we’d like to kick that question to our friend in Los Angeles, Ilan Ben-Hanan.

Ben-Hanan: For us a good audience is fans can see the game. We’re really not as concerned with the individual game metrics and trying to determine on a game-by-game basis the total size of the audience. A deal like this is both qualitative and quantitative in nature. And the ability to get these games on in a form that wasn’t even possible just a couple years ago, the ability to not have to worry about the shelf space concerns that have always been limiting for the amount of total games that can be on. That’s what is game-changing about a deal like this. Ultimately our hope is that for the student-athletes, their families, the fans of these schools, the fans of basketball in general, even for the selection committees in the various sports to see these teams, I think that has an impact, not just how many people are tuned in to a given game, but a team’s quest for championships.

  1. – Question regarding current access and the games moving to ESPN3 –

Watkins: Part of this deal, the commitment in the first year is to the core sports of volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball. But the long-term viability and sustainability of this network is to add more sports as the years go on. As part of the deal, those previous sports that were webcast will now be the exclusive property of The Valley on ESPN3.

  1. What kind of investment has The Valley estimated most schools are going to have to put into this to pull this off?

Elgin: I think that varies at each institution. As Professor Wright pointed out, Drake has long made investments in their infrastructure. They’ve been leaders in institutional telecasts. I think that commitment will continue.

  1. For ESPN, has the network ever done anything like this before with any other conference or any league? Is this completely groundbreaking in its nature? 

Ben-Hanan: We have had some experience working with some individual schools in doing these kind of what we call ‘school production deals’. We’ve had some conversations with some conferences that have kind of opened the door for the opportunity to do this. I think something like this done at the conference level with the support of both the academic and athletic sides of the house from the very beginning of the deal, that I think is what makes this very unique. We’ve had some experience, but doing something this comprehensive from the very beginning is something we’re really excited about.

  1. On the investment question. What about the actual equipment, cameras, things like that? Is ESPN going to be involved in helping foot that bill or is that up to the schools? 

Watkins: Any cost will be between the conference and the schools as it relates to the production build-out for our institutions. Again, it’s an initiative. Each school is different in terms of the equipment needs and the infrastructure. Any costs to acquire that equipment or those amenities to make the network viable will be between the conference and our 10 member institutions.   I think it’s important to recognize from the Missouri Valley Conference’s perspective that we have a co-branded channel mark in The Valley on ESPN, that the conference has a mark of which it’s proud. It’s a co-branded mark as a leader in the industry. I think that really becomes our calling card from this point forward.

Elgin: One other thing that differentiates our deal from the others is the tonnage, the sheer number of events that are going to be produced by our campuses and by The Missouri Valley for distribution on ESPN3. More information on ESPN’s coverage of Missouri Valley Conference athletics is available online along with all of the latest sports headlines at:

Website: http://espn.go.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPN

  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Deep Purple Takes The Stage This Morning On The Today Show

Courtesy:  earMUSIC

Courtesy: earMUSIC

Veteran rock band Deep Purple will perform live this morning on NBC’s Today Show.

The band is scheduled to perform at 8AM ET live from Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The band’s performance this morning is in support of its latest livereleases due out this fall. From The Setting Sun…(In Wacken) and To The Rising Sun in Tokyo will be released Friday, September 18th via earMUSIC. The playfully titled companion recordings will both be released on in their own standalone triple-disc sets composed of two CDs and a DVD and their own triple-disc LP sets for fans of vinyl. From The Setting Sun…(In Wacken) will also be made available on Blu-ray while To The Rising Sun in Tokyo will be made available in its own special 3D Blu-ray platform.

Courtesy:  earMUSIC

Courtesy: earMUSIC

From The Setting Sun…(In Wacken) was recorded at the band’s performance at the 2013 edition of the annual festival. It was filmed using a total of nine HD cameras. To The Rising Sun in Tokyo in April 2014 at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo. It was filmed using a total of twelve HD cameras throughout the venue. The audio mix for both shows was handled by Eike Freese and Alex Dietz (Heaven Shall Burn) in Hamburg, Germany. Roger Glover supervised the mixing process personally.

More information on both recordings is available online along with all of the latest news from Deep Purple at:

 

Website: http://www.deeppurple-nowwhat.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/officialdeeppurple

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Goes Lightspeed Next Month With Its Latest Power Rangers Release

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands

Shout! Factory continues its ongoing series of classic Power Rangers series next month when it releases Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue.

Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue will be available on Tuesday, August 11th in its entire forty-episode run. It will be available in stores and online and will retail for MSRP of $19.97. The second “post-Zordon-era” installment of Saban’s hit franchise, it is also one of the most standout installments of the franchise. That is because it is the first of the Power Rangers series to establish the Rangers’ powers through a terrestrial means rather than that of aliens from other worlds or mystical beings. In the case of this series this Power Rangers team is a semi-militaristic organization established to protect the colony of Mariner Bay. Even the team’s members are more relatable to audiences than before as each team member comes from a normal walk of life—a paramedic, a firefighter, a pilot, an extreme sports athlete and enthusiast, and a martial arts master. And instead of fighting aliens from other worlds, the Rangers in this case fight the evil Queen Bansheera, who is a demon, and her evil minions.

Over the course of Power Rangers Lightspeed’s forty-episodes, audiences see the return of the villainous Trakeena, from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy in the two-part episode “Trakeena’s Revenge.” This episode sees the Lightspeed and Lost Galaxy rangers having to team up when Trakeena returns to Earth with the aim of destroying it. Olympius and his evil forces cause their share of problems for Trakeena interestingly enough, proving that even among villains there is no honor.

In another of the series’ more notable moments, Carter is caught in a loop that sees him repeating the same day over and over again in “Yesterday Again.” With each repetition, Carter gains new knowledge in his fight to save the Rangers from being destroyed by Olympius.

“The Omega Project” is one more key moment from Lightspeed Rescue. This episode is one of the series’ rare moments in which the Rangers are taken out of Mariner Bay in order to save it. This episode sees the Rangers having to stop an asteroid pulled toward Earth by Olympius. It means having to initiate the “Omega Project,” which introduces the Omega Crawler and Omega Megazord. Both are formed through the use of the new Omega Zords.

The episodes noted here are just a few examples of what fans can anticipate from the upcoming release of Power Rangers Lightspeed. The series will be available in whole on DVD on Tuesday, August 11th. It will be available in stores and online and can be pre-ordered online now at a discounted price of $16.97 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-action-adventure/power-rangers-lightspeed-rescue-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.