Tessitore, Blackledge Talk 2016 College Football Season In Media Conference Call

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN Sunday College Football Broadcast Team: L – R: Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe, Joe Tessitore. Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Joe Tessitore and analyst Todd Blackledge sat down with members of the media this week to talk about the 2016 college football season and all things college football.  The pair talked with the media about their thoughts on the season’s major Heisman candidates, coaches’ QB choices, and what they think are some of the season’s most anticipated matchups.  The in-depth conversation is noted in full below.  Tessitore and Blackledge will join fellow reporter Holly Rowe this  Sunday, September 4th as Texas and Notre Dame face off live on ABC.  Coverage of the game is expected to begin at 7:30pm ET.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone, for joining today’s call, and welcome to the start of the college football season. As mentioned, today we have Joe Tessitore and Todd Blackledge and John Moline, who will be working together this season. Holly Rowe will join them throughout the season as their reporter. Joe and Todd will be in Austin on Sunday night for Notre Dame and Texas on ABC. As a heads up, we will have a transcript of today’s call so we will be sending that out this afternoon. We’ll get things started by tossing it over to Todd who will give some opening thoughts on the season. Joe will do the same and then we’ll get right into questions. Todd, why don’t you take it away.

TODD BLACKLEDGE: All right, well, it’s good to be with everybody here this morning, and obviously looking forward to the start of another great college football season. I think the thing that I’m most excited about, and I think everybody at ESPN is, just the magnitude of the opening weekend, the games that are making up the opening weekend spanning over a couple days is it pretty impressive and worth getting excited about, and I just can’t think of any better way to kick off college football than to have this type of a presentation right out of the gate.

I think the College Football Playoffs and the excitement around that and the importance of strength of schedule has had an impact, and certainly this first weekend of games, we’re going to find out a lot about teams.

I think it’s great as a team to play a high-caliber opponent early. I think it motivates you and it adds energy and juice to your preseason practice and your training camp, and a loss in a game this early against a high-quality opponent does not remove you from the championship picture. So I think it’s a win-win for everybody, particularly the fans, and for Joe and Holly and I, we’re thrilled to be in Austin on Sunday to call the Notre Dame-Texas game. A lot of intrigue around that game and probably as much as any one particular spot at the quarterback position on both sides of the field.

You know, we’re probably going to see four guys in the game. I don’t know how much we’ll see of each guy or what the rotations are going to be, but I think both head coaches have talked about playing two guys, and in the case of Texas, I wouldn’t be shocked if we don’t see a third guy in there in a wildcat type situation in special situations.

First games there’s a lot of intrigue, a lot of mystery, a lot of wondering how guys are going to respond on a big stage, and we’re excited and thrilled to be there to cover it.

THE MODERATOR: Joe, why don’t you give your thoughts on the opening of the season.

JOE TESSITORE: Good morning, everybody. This is Joe Tessitore. Thanks for your time. I think Todd brings up a great point in talking about the opening weekend and the influence of the College Football Playoff now that we’re a couple years in and realizing what it’s done scheduling-wise. I think everybody realizes it’s the best opening weekend the sport’s ever had. But when I look through, and Derek, you asked for season overall thoughts here, I look at the schedule even beyond opening weekend, and I feel like everywhere you turn, you see these potential College Football Playoff eliminators or games that will help us decide some things. I think the season is filled with them, it’s just that we have this overflow in week one that makes it so exciting, but whether it’s Bama-LSU, Clemson-Florida State, Michigan-Ohio State, I feel like we have that everywhere you turn.

I also think the sport is really blessed and it continues to be this way, and we know some of the ways college basketball is panned, but the returning established stars, when you have Fournette, McCaffrey and Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield and Dalvin Cook, I was just doing a Heisman special the other day, and I started putting this list together and everywhere you look, you have these established stars and these known qualities, and I think that’s good for the sport and really good for the fans.

I can’t get away from what Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh have been up to this off-season, and the fact that we have these two huge names in coaching with all the other big names, but with Saban, does the legacy and the dynasty grow even bigger would be one of the big headlines I’m looking forward to this season, does Harbaugh deliver on the hype.

As for the hype for our game, on a personal note, I’m absolutely honored and thrilled to work with Todd and Holly, and I think I speak for Todd in saying that with what Holly has been through this year and this off-season and the fight and the courage and what she’s shown, and I know her battle has been a little public, to see Holly on Sunday night in primetime on ABC, a game like this, Todd, I know we’re all going to be just so thrilled to have that group together, and she’s the absolute best in the business, as is Todd, at what he does. I’m thrilled to be a part of this team now.

I think the Notre Dame-Texas game personally, more could be revealed in this game than perhaps any other opening weekend game out there because I think Notre Dame, of course, top-10 team but very much perceived as a team with enough new talent to reload in spots where they need it and a team capable of putting it all together for a run to the playoff, but yet there’s still a lot that has to be decided.

Todd talked about the quarterback battle. I want to see who emerges at wide receiver and fills some of that void at tight end, who steps up on the defensive line where they do have some players that are back again and others need to step up.

And for Texas, you feel this buzz this off-season as this is the point of the breakthrough and the true freshman quarterback, but yet Swoopes is still there and the big dominating tandem in the backfield. But there are still the issues from last year that you want to see resolved, the run defense. Yeah, they’re a year older. Yeah, there’s a new offense, an exciting young new offensive coordinator, but is it too big of a leap to go from where they were to now what’s expected, and I think very early on on Sunday, we may start to get some of those answers, and if we do in a positive direction, this is going to be a thriller on Sunday night.

I’m very excited, and with that, Derek, I guess we can open it up for some questions.

Q. Question for Todd: Coach Strong is still not really releasing who he’s going to start as a quarterback in the game on Sunday, and Coach Kelly said he’s going to play both guys. What’s kind of the strategy behind do you think coaches trying to keep some of that stuff mum until the last possible second?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, you know, I mean, I guess if you can do that, what you can do in college football a little differently than you can in the NFL, (inaudible) preparation. Now, the positives of Notre Dame is they’ve had all off-season. It’s not like it’s (inaudible) week where they’ve only had four or five days to do preparation work for two quarterbacks or two different styles of quarterbacks. So they’ve had extra time. I think just as (inaudible) quarterback is going to be is I would imagine Notre Dame’s defensive staff led by Brian VanGorder has probably spend as much time studying and dissecting film from a year ago to get familiar with the offensive plan and system that they might see from Sterlin Gilbert’s offense in the ballgame. More so than which guy is taking the snaps, I think they’ll spend more time being concerned about the style of offense and maybe the tempo of the offense that they’re going to face.

Q. Todd or Joe, when is the last time that you actually saw a two-quarterback system be effective and actually work, keeping both guys happy?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, I mean, I think you have to look at what Ohio State was able to do. I mean, last year was not great (inaudible).

THE MODERATOR: Todd, your phone is breaking up a little bit here. Why don’t we go to Joe.

JOE TESSITORE: It’s funny, Todd and I got on a conference call last week, and one of the things we started discussing was Brian Kelly’s success at Cincinnati, and we really started focusing in on that, where Coach was very comfortable in having two talented guys and guys that in the circumstances created that, but still, they did have success at times when they were using a two-quarterback system. It can be done. The reason why it’s being done may not be the same, but obviously they’re blessed with the talent that’s there.

But I don’t know, I think one of the great curiosities of this game and opening weekend is to see how this will play out. But there have been spots of success, and Brian is a coach who has been one of those guys in recent years of college football who’s actually done it.

THE MODERATOR: Todd, let’s try to go back to you and see if we can hear you a little bit better.

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Yeah, I mean, I’m not — as a former quarterback, obviously I’m not a huge fan of playing two quarterbacks. But by the same token, I’m not necessarily all in with the idea that if you — the adage if you have two quarterbacks then you really have no quarterbacks, because again, in today’s world of college football, I think you have to have at least two guys ready to take first-team reps and ready to play at a high level because of the effectiveness of quarterback run game in offenses today.

You know, the offenses that are really prolific, you either have an NFL-type quarterback who can make every throw, or you have an element of quarterback run, and when you do that, you put the guy at risk. So again, I live in Ohio, and watching what Ohio State did on their way to a National Championship, you know, they ended up going through three quarterbacks because of injury, but the key was that each one of them was ready to step up and play at a high level when their number was called.

So early in the season you start out by saying, okay, look, we’re going to play two guys. But eventually I think they’ll work into one guy as a starter, but you want to make sure that other guy is not only happy but ready to play at a high level when his number is called, because you are one play away from being a starting quarterback if you’re a backup.

Q. I kind of want to go along those same lines but take it a step further with the SEC specifically. It seems like the conference kind of has a rep of we’ve got talent coming out of the ears at every position, developing players except for quarterback. Is that kind of a fair analogy, and if you think it’s true, why do you think it’s true?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, I don’t know if it’s a fair analogy or not. Certainly maybe other positions have developed quicker or they’ve put more guys in the league that are playing at a high level, but I think quarterback play is kind of cyclical. I think there are times when it may be down in a league like the SEC, but there’s other times when it’s pretty good. I just think that that league, one of the things that’s different is the defenses are very good in that league, and the type of defensive talent that you face week in and week out is a little bit different for a quarterback than playing in some other leagues across the country.

I think that has something to do with it, but I just think overall it’s cyclical. I don’t think they do a bad job of developing quarterbacks. I just think it might be a little bit more difficult to play week in and week out at that position, as well.

JOE TESSITORE: I think Todd is right when he points to the defense as being part of the explanation. I also think that every conference takes on a certain offensive identity as to what’s the norm, and we know what that’s been in the Big 12 in recent years, and you’ve seen certain coaches who were holding out on that now give way and conform. Gary Patterson finding great success with what he did at changing offensive coordinators in recent years, Texas now going down that same road. Some of those same things aren’t asked of quarterbacks in the SEC. It’s not the same conforming culture of offenses in the SEC.

Yes, for some quarterbacks you’ll see those stats, be it with what you see out of Chad Kelly or perhaps even Trevor Knight at Texas A&M this year, knowing what they are going to ask of him in that offense, but with others managing the game, playing two back play action with the emphasis on power run, you’re not going to see some of the same stuff. But undoubtedly what Todd said with the level of defense and the front sevens that they’re facing every week, it’s a different beast.

Q. Todd, if you don’t mind momentarily skipping ahead to week two, Pitt-Penn State, first time in 16 years, renewal of a rivalry, two things: Number one, do you think this game should be played every year? Number two, can you share some of your memories from whether this likely or definitely may be the best Penn State (inaudible) in the history of the series in 1981?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Yeah, in answering your first question, I wish they would play every year. I know logistically they may not be feasible, but to me one of the greatest things about college football and the thing that sets it apart from the NFL is rivalries. When I was at Penn State, the Pitt-Penn State game was as good a rivalry game as there was in college football, and it had its own niche, that Friday after Thanksgiving, the battle of route 322, a lot of the in-state competition, even though I was an Ohio guy, I found out pretty quickly how important that game was.

Also, when I was at Penn State at that time in the early ’80s, the talent on both of those teams, the NFL caliber talent was unbelievable. It was a great rivalry to be a part of. I wish that they played every year.

The memories I have of the ’81 game, and I’ve done a few interviews about it already this year, this summer, I have very distinct and fond memories of that game. It was a bizarre game. They were ranked No. 1. We came in with two losses, but we were a really, really good football team, and we were ranked No. 1 earlier in the year and got beat by Miami and then lost again to Alabama. But we knew we were capable of playing with Pitt even though they had a great team. And yet it didn’t look like that early on. We were down 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, and I think I’m correct in saying we had minus one yard of total offense in the first quarter and just showed no signs of being able to stay on the field.

And Pitt was driving again early in the second quarter, and we got an interception on a beautiful play by our safety Mark Robinson down by the goal line, and that just kind of stopped the avalanche for a minute, and we were able to tie it up before halftime 14-14 and then it was a completely different game in the second half.

Our defense forced turnovers and our offense came up with big plays in the passing game, and we ended up scoring 48 unanswered points to win 48-14.

It was a crazy game, a great game for Penn State. Yeah, I have great memories of that because we also — we didn’t have to go back to school right away because it was Thanksgiving break, and I remember going with my family and Kurt Warner and some other guys to Klein’s Restaurant downtown Pittsburgh, and just an incredible weekend capped off by that game.

Q. Rightfully Clemson and Florida State get most of the media attention that comes out of the ACC but I’d like to get North Carolina’s week one matchup with Georgia and the effect that that game will have on the Tar Heels’ season.

JOE TESSITORE: I broadcast last year’s opener for North Carolina, which I think we look back and shake our head at now, but this is actually a team that I like a lot, and I think obviously with what they’re facing week one, that would be a signature win non-conference-wise that could really propel them to something special. But I just look at their offense, and there is so much talent on that side of the ball, and I think Trubisky could be even better for them than what we’ve seen in recent years. I think Hood is one of the most underrated running backs in the country, and Hollins on the outside is a big-bodied receiver. Switzer is as dangerous in the slot in the return game as anybody is in the country. Any time he touches the ball, he could really go. They’ve got returning guys on the offensive line, so they’re going to be very consistent and dangerous offensively.

Defensively, need to step up. Need to keep developing. Didn’t see much defense last year, but you’ve got to hope that year two under Chizik, guys having more experience, they’re just better. But I think North Carolina is sneaky good and very capable week one against the Dawgs, especially if the Dawgs are finding their identity offensively a little bit, depending on what we see at quarterback.

I think nobody should be fooled thinking that Georgia is lacking talent. That roster and that recruiting has never turned itself off.

But I actually think, and we were talking about this, as good as this opening week is, if you were to tell me what games do you feel like are undoubtedly final-possession games, that’s very high on the list. I think that’s going to be a highly competitive game that is played to the wire on Saturday.

Todd and I having a Sunday game, God, I feel like this is a great luxury for us. On Saturday we get to watch football and enjoy this thing. That’s definitely the game I’m going to be locked in on Saturday afternoon. I’m looking forward to it.

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Yeah, I would just echo that I think that that’s a great opportunity game for North Carolina. They finished with a lot of confidence. They had a really solid season last year, and they’re going against a team that a lot of people are going to go in and well, think, Georgia is more talent, SEC, blah blah blah, but Georgia has a lot of answers — they have a lot of questions to figure out on both sides of the ball. If anybody has been around Alabama at Nick Saban’s defense and Kirby Smart’s defense, it’s not a simple system, and it doesn’t happen right away, and so it’s — I think it’s going to take them a little bit of time to get real comfortable in some of the things he wants done defensively. They’ve got questions an offense, and as Joe mentioned, a lot of talent, but I see North Carolina going into that game as a very confident football team and looking at that game as a chance to really kick this season off in a positive way.

Q. You guys were talking a little bit about big name quarterbacks. Obviously with the Auburn-Clemson matchup, Deshaun Watson is a player that everybody is going to be watching. What are you looking to see out of players whose names are already in the Heisman conversation?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, my biggest thing, when I think of a guy coming off the kind of year that Watson had last year, and he was fun to watch. I had him in the semifinal game and he was spectacular, he was great in the final. You know, the biggest thing is, okay, how does he take the next step in his development, and really the thing that’s really impressive about him beyond his skill set is his poise. His poise for a young player was pretty impressive, very unshakeable. And so the biggest thing now is, okay, how does he progress, how does he take the next step in decision making, in how quickly he sees and recognizes things on the field, taking a little bit more command of things.

And the only thing I would worry about with a guy like that is that he doesn’t try to do too much, that he doesn’t try to get outside of himself and do too much and try to make every play, but that doesn’t really fit his personality. I wouldn’t expect that to be a problem for him. But can he get better? Yeah, he can get better, and that’s pretty scary for people that are going to play him.

I just like everything about him. I like his skill. I like his athleticism, and I really like his poise and his demeanor playing that position.

JOE TESSITORE: Was your question specifically Watson in terms of expectations with the Heisman hype, or did you want me to go beyond Watson?

Q. Watson, but also beyond Watson.

JOE TESSITORE: Todd is going to give you a far better breakdown on the field and he just did and what to look for from him personally, but just as somebody who tracks the Heisman voting through the years and Heisman campaigns through the years, the thing with Deshaun is he comes into the season in a very unique position because we always have the candidates who in advance of the season come in with a certain level of status, where if they do what’s expected of them, if their teams and the individual have similar seasons to what they just had, undoubtedly they’ll be in the front row in New York.

This year it’s Watson with two running backs. It’s Watson, Fournette and McCaffrey who carry that status going into the season. Deliver on what you’re supposed to do and what you’ve already done, and you’ll be in the front row in New York.

What we’ve been noticing when we track the Heisman in recent years is with the internet voting and everybody voting online after the championship games, he who moves last moves best. You don’t want to be out in front of the Heisman race early. You want to make your move in November and surge. His biggest Heisman defining moment will come on October 29th at Florida State against another Heisman candidate just a notch below him in terms of perception in tears, against Dalvin Cook. And then in the month of November, up until he plays in the ACC Championship game, Deshaun is going to have a lot of games where he’s expected to win easily, to put up stats, but nothing that’s going to grab everybody’s attention. It’s Syracuse and Pitt and Wake Forest and South Carolina. So come the week after that, it’s Leonard Fournette and the question of can he finally get over the Alabama mountaintop on November 5th in a game that’s very similar in my eyes to the Florida State-Clemson game in sort of a de facto in-conference playoff eliminator.

So I think Deshaun is going to be just fine, but October 29th will define whether he’s in that lead seat heading into November of the Heisman race, but then Leonard Fournette is going to have an opportunity, as he did a year ago but then was overtaken by Derrick Henry, to then take the next step back and surge ahead.

But he’s in phenomenal shape, and he’s a young man that I had the chance to broadcast last year, and I can remember broadcasting the Orange Bowl a few years ago with Clemson and Ohio State, and the coaching staff, because he was an early enrollee, being able to talk about him, and sitting there telling all of us, oh, no, the best guy is coming in in a week. Well, we get the best guy in about a week and a half, and boy, he’s delivered on every bit of that. I’m just excited to see him play.

It’s another game Saturday night we’ll be dialing up late when we’re down there prepping this Texas-Notre Dame game that comes out of the chute at Auburn. But I look through the person of how the Heisman can be won, and that’s the way I see it for Deshaun.

Q. I want to go back to the Notre Dame-Texas game. What stands out to you about both Kizer and Zaire, and secondly, we’ve talked a lot about the offensive side of the ball, but defensively, who are a couple guys on both teams that you’re looking at to kind of keep your eye on for the game?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: Well, I’ll talk about the quarterbacks a little bit. I went out and watched Notre Dame practice last week, and they’re both impressive guys. I think that — I don’t think Brian Kelly is trying to play any games by saying, you know, what he said about the quarterbacks and playing two guys. Both guys are competitors, and they want to be the guy, but they’re two of Brian’s best playmakers. And not only best playmakers but most experienced playmakers. He’s got a lot of youth at wide receiver, and so those two guys have proven that they can play winning football for Notre Dame.

The idea of playing one and keeping the other one on the bench for 60 minutes, that’s not the best thing for that team. They’re both talented. It’s unique to me that one is right-handed and one is left-handed. If I had to distinguish between the two, I think Zaire is going to impact a game and affect a game more with his feet, and Kizer is going to affect a game and impact a game maybe more with his recognition of what the defense is, staying in the pocket, seeing over the rush and making throws down the field. Not that he’s not a good runner or a capable runner because he proved that, but I think he’s more comfortable staying in there and seeing the field and beating you that way.

They’re both very talented. They’re both bright. They both have proven themselves, and the question is now how do they break up the playing time between them on Sunday night, and at what point in the game do they decide or will they decide, hey, one of them gives us the best chance of going ahead and winning this football game. That will be the real interesting thing to see how they manage.

JOE TESSITORE: Defensively, I’m looking forward to getting your thoughts on the guys I’m going to mention when we go to practice down in Austin later this week, but I know Jefferson is going to get a lot of attention for Texas, but just even this weekend in doing some of my prep, I look at the five defensive backs that can be on the field for Texas, and I see size and athleticism, and I think Devante Davis is a guy as a corner with his size and his range and his physicality who NFL scouts are going to be drooling over in the coming years, but I look at Hall and Haines and all that talent in the defensive backfield, but then I ask myself, is the front seven, and really the guys up front, are they going to be capable of stopping the run against Notre Dame and putting the defensive backfield in position to have a big impact on this game, or is Notre Dame going to have their way in running the ball against Texas.

If I’m a Texas fan, whether it’s Poona Ford or somebody, Nelson or Boyette, I need to hear one of their names a lot on Sunday night. I need somebody there to just be flat-out better than they were. I know what that defensive backfield is going to give me with Texas, but I’m not quite sure what the big guys up front are going to deliver.

And then for Notre Dame, obviously there’s talent to replace both with the situation off the field at safety but also at linebacker with the talent that departed. But I think having Jones 94 and Rochell 90 up front, those could be some special players for them this year.

But the question marks for me would be defensively, the defensive line for Texas, and are they capable and can they step up in a spot like this.

Q. On the candidates for Heisman, are there any dark horse candidates you guys would consider? I know Fournette, McCaffrey, Watson, a lot of those guys are getting a lot of the main attention. Are there any dark horse candidates for Heisman that you guys might suggest?

TODD BLACKLEDGE: I’m going to let Joe talk about this, because I’ve told Joe before and I tell people, I personally — I don’t like talking about the Heisman until we get to the month of November. Just like I don’t like talking about who’s the top five or two whatever until we get to the month of October. But obviously I know that’s part of it, and people want to hear about it, and Joe specializes in it, so I’m going to let him throw out some names for you.

JOE TESSITORE: To Todd’s point, Todd obviously has more college football in his pinky than all of us combined on this call and years and years of seeing it, and he knows very well that you don’t win the Heisman in September or October, you only win it in November, and all you can do in September is really get into the starting gate of the Heisman, to then have the race be won.

But if you’re looking for names out there of guys that could potentially at least get into the starting gate that aren’t the obvious choices, and I would consider the obvious choices in the guys who are going to have those post positions already set for them to be Watson, Fournette, McCaffrey, and then J.T. Barrett and Baker Mayfield and Chad Kelly and Dalvin Cook and potentially Josh Rosen and Nick Chubb, depending on what happens opening weekend with both playing two very difficult non-conference games, UCLA and Georgia.

The longshot guys I would throw in there are the fact that the Baylor quarterback is going to be the Baylor quarterback, and there’s a certain status that comes along with that. So Seth Russell is back healthy. Luke Falk at Washington State should put up ridiculous stats. Royce Freeman at Oregon is one of these guys that’s grossly underrated and outstanding and talented. Barkley at Penn State is going to put up great stats at running back and out of the backfield and potentially could get a good upset win. If Tennessee is an SEC Championship contender, Josh Dobbs is going to get consideration depending on what they look like offensively. The two intriguing ones, quarterbacks for me, would be Greg Ward at Houston and Lamar Jackson at Louisville, the reason being is they’re both dynamic dual-threat guys who have the opportunity in Houston to have signature non-conference wins right out of the gate against Oklahoma, and for Louisville, the chance to either upset Florida State or Clemson and have really gaudy stats.

There’s always going to be a Alabama playmaker. There’s been a recent voting trend in the Heisman of a default vote of best player on best team. Somebody from Alabama, whether it’s the quarterback, the featured running back, Calvin Ridley or even a defensive star will get consideration to at least get votes to get to New York.

And then real, real extreme longshots, I would tell you Trubisky at North Carolina; Brad Kaaya if Miami has a good year and makes it to the ACC title game. Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech may be the most purely talented stat gatherer in the country; JuJu Smith-Schuster at USC, but they would have to find team success; Mike Weber at Ohio State now getting the ball and taking the reins from Zeke Elliott if they have great team success. And the outlier candidate that could make it to New York would be a guy like Jabrill Peppers at Michigan if they are national title contenders and he’s the showcase of what they do defensively.

But that would be the list that I put together preseason for some of our ESPN work that we’ve already done for the Heisman.

Mill Creek’s ‘Bump In The Night’ Re-Issue Is Imperfect But Still Enjoyable

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

In October 2014 one of the most important eras in television’s history came to an end.  The era in question was that of Saturday morning cartoons.  For so many decades, children across America would get up every Saturday at the crack of dawn and watch cartoons while eating countless bowls of sugar-laden cereal until noon.  But on the weekend of October 4th, 2014 the final nail was put into the proverbial coffin for Saturday morning cartoons when The CW ran its final “Vortexx” programming block.  Being that weekday morning (and afternoon) cartoons had already gone the way of the dinosaur many years before, it was also the true end of a whole generation’s innocence.  The 24-hour news cycle took over along with streaming media and FCC demands for more educational programming.  Thankfully though, many companies out there have made it their sole mission to keep that age of innocence alive with DVD and Blu-ray releases of those classic bygone cartoons.  They include the likes of Shout! Factory, Scholastic, 20th Century Fox, and the focus of today’s review, Mill Creek Entertainment, among so many others.  While Mill Creek Entertainment does not normally have the best reputation within the home entertainment arena there have been times when the independent outlet has been worthy of at least some praise.  Its  re-issue of ABC’s short-lived Saturday morning series Bump in the Night earlier this year is one of those examples of Mill Creek deserving at least some praise.  That is due in part to the set’s packaging. That will be discussed later.  While not perfect it does have at least some positives.  The presentation of the episodes themselves is also worth noting in this recently re-issued set.  It will be discussed later.  Last but hardly least of note in examining Mill Creek’s new re-issue of Bump in The Night: The Complete Series is the series’ writing and its affordable price.  It is one of a small handful of saving graces for the collection.  Each element plays its own important part in the whole of this set.  Collectively they make Mill Creek Entertainment’s re-issue of the series a welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library even despite its imperfections.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s recent re-issue of ABC’s short-lived Saturday morning series Bump in the Night is not a perfect presentation by any means.  However, considering how much worse it could have been (especially considering the company’s general reputation with re-issues) it is surprisingly worthy of praise.  That is due in large part to the company’s overall packaging of the series.  Each of the series’ two seasons is presented on its own disc on its very own spot inside the set’s case.  This is a major departure for Mill Creek.  More often than not, when it presents multi-disc sets, it places them one atop the other on one single or in ordinary CD sleeves that are then placed atop one another in the same format as its other multi-disc sets.  Neither practice is ergonomic nor safe for the sets’ discs.  Keeping that in mind, seeing Mill Creek take the proverbial road less traveled here makes the company and the set’s presentation deserving of praise.  Now having noted this one cannot ignore a point at which Mill Creek came up short in the set’s presentation.

The packaging that is used for Mill Creek Entertainment’s recent re-issue of Bump in the Night: The Complete Series is deserving of praise in its own right.  At the same time though, that packaging is not perfect.  Each of the series’ twenty-seven episodes is listed on the cover of each of the sets two discs.  Thy are placed clearly within their given season, too.  This is where the problems begin.  While Mill Creek is to be applauded for doing this, one cannot ignore the fact that they are not listed on the back of the set’s box.  There is also no companion booklet to help guide viewers along the way with either episode guide or even episode summary.  On a related note the only bonus feature included in the set is the series’ special holiday episode “Twas The Night Before Bumpy.”  Other than that there are no bonuses to make up for the lack of episode guides other than the episode listings on each disc.  To that end the set’s overall packaging is hardly perfect.  But it deserves at least some points for effort.  It is not the only element that should be noted here.  The presentation of the episodes themselves is just as important to note here as the set’s packaging.

The packaging method used in Mill Creek Entertainment’s recent re-issue of Bump in the Night is a mixed bag.  It has its positives.  But it also has its negatives.  Considering this the packaging is not a total loss.  But it still could have been better.  Moving on, the set’s packaging is not the only important element to note here.  The episodes’ actual presentation is just as important to note as the set’s packaging.  The episodes clearly have not been touched in their transfer to DVD in this latest re-issue.  Though, in defense of Mill Creek Entertainment here, they don’t look that bad.  Given, they could have benefited from at least a little bit of touching up, but in the bigger picture of their presentation they look just as they did in their original broadcast on ABCs Saturday morning broadcasts from 1994 – 1995.  The look of the series—for those not familiar with the series–was something completely unlike that of any of its counterparts and even any show that has since come along.  It mixed together live action elements with stop motion/claymation for a look that was all its own.  It didn’t have that spit-shined look that so many animated series had at the time nor even more experimental look of a show such as Reboot.  It was its own, look.  And luckily it actually does end up looking quite interesting in its own right.  In turn it makes the episodes presentation deserving of its own praise despite, again, being slightly imperfect, too.  It still is not the last of the sets most important elements.  Last but hardly least of note in examining the series is its writing.  The writing is the set’s primary saving grace.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s recent re-issue of Bump in the Night is not a perfect re-issue.  But it is still deserving of at least some praise in considering.  That is determined in considering the set’s packaging and the look of the series’ episodes.  Neither is perfect by any means.  But they could also have been much worse.  That’s especially considering Mill Creek Entertainment’s overwhelming reputation.  Having examined both of the noted elements there is just one more element to examine here.  That element is the series’ overall writing.  Just as the series’ look was completely unlike that of any other children’s series at the time so was its writing.  In regards to its writing it was a partly goth-style show that would have (perhaps) made even Tim Burton proud.  It follows Mr. Bumpy (Jim Cummings—The Lion King, CatDog, Transformers Rescue Bots) and his pals Squishington (Rob Paulsen—Animaniacs, Darkwing Duck, Danny Phantom) and Miss Molly Coddle (Gail Matthius—Bobby’s World, Tiny Toon Advenures, Animaniacs) as they have all kinds of nocturnal adventures in the room of Mr. Bumpy’s 10-year old boy.  One can’t help but wonder, in considering this what if any role it had to have played in influencing the development of Pixar’s Toy Story.  And there are plenty of laughs to be shared in each episode along with important life lessons, too.  “Better Homes and Garbage” is one of the best examples of what makes the writing so impressive.  It is a classic Odd Couple style story that will leave audiences of any age laughing.  In the end, Mr. Bumpy learns, just as Oscar did in The Odd Couple the value of his counterpart’s friendship.  Therein is the episode’s important life lesson—valuing one’s friends.  On a completely different note, “Danger: Unexploded Squishington” doesn’t really boast any life-altering lesson.  But it does offer plenty of laughs as Mr. Bumpy realizes that his friend might have unwittingly eaten a bomb.  Spongebob Squarepants has a similar episode in which Squidward gives Spongebob a pie laden with a bomb.  So one can’t help but wonder here if the prior might have been an influence for the latter.  “Party Pooper” is another example of what makes the series’ writing so important.  When Molly wants to go to a party being held by the Cute Dolls, she learns an important lesson about being true to herself rather than trying to be what the Cute Dolls think that she should be.  It is a timeless lesson from which audiences of all ages.  These episodes are all included in the series’ first season, meaning that there are plenty of other episodes that could be used to cite the importance of the series’ writing.  Altogether the writing behind this series (including all of the great pop culture references within each episode) proves to be one of just two shining, saving graces in its latest presentation.  The other would be its relatively affordable price.  The set is retailing on average for about eight dollars.  When that and the series writing are set against the set’s overall packaging and the look of the show’s episodes the whole of the set makes it an imperfect re-issue but one that is still a welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library.

Bump in the Night: The Complete Series is, in its most recent re-issue, an imperfect collection.  But even in considering its imperfections it is still a welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library.  That applies especially to families who have knowledge and respect for the cartoons that once made Saturday mornings so great.  There is no denying that its packaging in this new presentation leaves at least a little something to be desired.  Though, it could have been so much worse.  And while it would have been nice to see Mill Creek Entertainment do at least some re-touching in regards to the look of the series, it doesn’t look so bad that it makes the episodes unwatchable.  In fact one could argue that its original look still makes it stand out even today especially against television’s current sea of CG-based children’s series.  The writing behind the series and the sets pricing are the set’s saving graces.  The writing will entertain and educate (so to speak) audiences of all ages.  And the set’s relatively affordable price (averaging about eight dollars) will increase the odds that families will want to purchase the set and consider all of the previously noted elements for themselves.  Each element is important in its own right.  That goes without saying.  It has its pros and its cons.  But all things considered the combination of those pros and cons balances itself out and in turn makes this new re-issue one that its fans will want to add to their own home DVD libraries.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Mill Creek Entertainment’s online store at http://www.millcreekent.com/bump-in-the-night-the-complete-series.html.  More information on this and other titles from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online now at:




Website: http://www.millcreekent.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/millcreekent




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Time Life To Re-Issue ‘The Wonder Years: The Complete Series’ This Summer

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

There is good news for fans of ABC’s classic family drama The Wonder Years.

Time Life Entertainment has announced that it will re-issue the series in a complete series box set next month.  It is currently slated to be released Tuesday, August 23rd and will retail for MSRP of $119.95.  The new re-issue will feature all 115 episodes of the six-season series spread across 22 discs and 12 hours of new bonus material.  Those bonus features include: highlights from the cast’s first reunion in 16 years, a farewell set tour, Exclusive interviews and more.  It also features all of the songs originally used in the series’ 5 year, six season run including: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Joe Cocker, and many others.  The series’ soundtrack in total comes to 300 songs.

Over the course of its six seasons on the air, The Wonder Years was one of television’s most popular series.  It earned a spot on Neilsen’s Top 30 in four of those seasons.  It earned an Emmy® for “Best Comedy Series,” and at age 13 lead actor Fred Savage became the youngest actor ever nominated for “Outstanding Lead Actor For A Comedy Series.”  The series would eventually go on to earn a total of 24 awards and be nominate for 70 more.  Those nominations and wins included: Emmy® Awards, A Golden Globe®, and in 1989 a Peabody® Award for pushing the boundaries of the sitcom format and using what were then new methods of storytelling.  Even after the show ended its run, its impact was still being felt.  In 1997 “My Father’s Office” was ranked #29 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.  The series’ pilot episode was ranked #43 on that same list.

The Wonder Years: The Complete Series will be released in stores and online on Tuesday, August 23rd via Time Life Entertainment.  It will retail for MSRP of $119.95.  More information on this and other titles from Time Life Entertainment is available online now at:




Website: http://timelife.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS




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Time Life, StarVista Give Audiences The Time Of Their Lives Again In ‘The Wonder Years” Fifth Season

Courtesy: Time Life/ABC

Courtesy: Time Life/ABC

Television has come a long way since its golden age.  That isn’t a good thing either.  During television’s infancy audiences were provided with so much variety in their programming options.  Now however, those options are far fewer.  Most of what audiences are being offered are either soulless “reality shows,” rebooted game shows, or any number of crime and medical procedurals, none of which even have any heart in themselves.  Thankfully, the variety once offered during television’s golden age have been resurrected by the increasing number of retro TV networks out there and home entertainment companies such as Shout! Factory, MPI Home Video, and the focus of today’s review, Time Life Entertainment.  Time Life and its subsidiary StarVista Entertainment have proven in recent years to be among the leading names in home entertainment thanks to the release of classics such as: Hee Haw, The Carol Burnett Show, and of course The Wonder Years just to name a few of those classic series.  Speaking of The Wonder Years, Time Life and StarVista released the fifth season of that series this past May.  The series’ penultimate season, it proves in its new home release why Time Life and StarVista are among the leading names in home entertainment beginning with the season’s writing; more specifically its stories.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note as the show’s writing.  The companion booklet that comes with the set is yet another important element to consider in the set’s presentation.  Each element plays its own part in Season Five’s overall presentation.  They are hardly the set’s only notable elements, too.  There is also the set’s collective bonus material and even the very listing of the episodes to consider in the set’s presentation.  All things considered Time Life and StarVista have once again proven with this release why they are among the leading names in the home entertainment arena.

Time Life and StarVista are among the very few leading names in the home entertainment arena today.  That has been proven time and again with every one of the companies’ previous home releases.  The recently released fifth season of ABC’s classic family drama The Wonder Years is just the latest title to prove that reputation.  The series is one of television’s best classic dramas.  That has already been proven over the course of the series’ first four seasons.  Now in its penultimate season it has proven this once again in large part through its writing.  More specifically that writing applies to the stories at the heart of each episode.  While this season’s stories take place in the 1970s their scenarios are just as relevant today as they were in their given age.  “Road Test” is just one key example of that continued relevance.  Kevin faces his driving test in this episode.  And it isn’t easy.  While everyone else is having an easy go of it, he can’t get over his issues with parallel parking.  That is until he finally faces his fears.  It also leads to a heartwarming father-son bonding moment between Kevin and Jack in the end.  This smaller element of the writing will be discussed later.  Of course driving tests have changed a lot since the days of Kevin’s test.  But that fear and uncertainty that new drivers feel is still very much the same, again proving its relevance to the world today.

The Story within “Day One” is another key example of The Wonder Years’ continued relevance to the world today.  This stories finds Kevin starting high school, which means a whole new environment including a new teacher who makes Kevin his personal target.  This comes about due to one joke that Kevin makes; a joke that Kevin finds harmless but the teacher in question doesn’t, thanks to his personal background.  In the process, Kevin learns a very important lesson not only about civics and government but about right and wrong.  It is an important story that progresses Kevin’s continuing coming-of-age that is just as relevant today as it was in its original broadcast.  Sure, there might not be protests along the line of what Kevin and his classmates did.  But it directly echoes that personal emotional growth that every teen goes through, even today.  So it proves, again, to be just as relevant to the world today as “Road Test.”

“Soccer” is one more example of what makes The Wonder Years so relevant to the world even today.  This time Kevin joins a band of misfit students to form his school’s new soccer team.  Of course the result is a classic underdog story that will put a smile on any viewer’s face.  Despite the differences exhibited by the team and its general lack of talent, it still comes together in the end to inspire both each other and its coach, a one-time soccer legend himself.  The coach had signed on very reluctantly and didn’t even show any real interest in the team throughout most of the story.  But the team’s determination inspired him even just a little bit.  So many stories along the lines on this one have been crafted by so many television and movie writers through the ages.  But they have all been so over the top that they are hardly believable.  This story is the polar opposite of those presentations.  It completely pulls in audiences and in turn makes itself entirely believable.  It is just one more way in which The Wonder Years maintains its relevance even today.  It is hardly the last story presented in this season that proves the series’ continued relevance.  “Private Butthead,” “The Lost Weekend,” and “Wedding” could just as easily be used to exhibit that continued relevance as could any of the season’s other episodes, too.  All things considered, the stories that are presented throughout The Wonder Years’ fifth season show from beginning to end the series’ continued relevance and the overall importance of the season’s writing.  The stories alone are just a portion of what makes the writing so important.  The life lessons that are presented within each episode are just as important to note as the stories themselves.

The stories at the center of The Wonder Years’ fifth season are in their own right hugely important to the writing within the season’s presentation.  They are just part of what makes the writing so important.  The life lessons that are presented within each episode are just as important to note as the stories themselves.  Case in point the lesson presented in “Day One.”  The lesson about standing up for one’s own beliefs is one that applies at any stage of life.  While the tyrant here might have been the teacher Kevin still realized that he had to stand up for himself just as people in general must stand up against tyranny, bullies, and the like.  It boasts a certain heart that few if any shows today can say they have.

“Grandpa’s Car” boasts just as much heart in its story and life lesson as that presented in “Day One.”  This story sees Arnold’s grandfather having to come to terms with his age and his waning abilities.  It presents yet another topic that is just as relevant today as it was in Kevin’s youth.  While the story is powerful in its own right, so is the lesson presented here.  The lesson centers on family.  It presents that important message about looking after one’s family even when family might not agree with certain decisions and actions.  It is one of those lessons (and stories) that will definitely touch audiences so deeply.  And it is hardly the last example of the importance of the lessons to the series’ writing in this season.  “The Wedding” provides one more example of the importance of the show’s lessons this season to its writing.

“Grandpa’s Car” and “Day One” both present lessons that are clearly important to the series’ writing.  They are lessons that ring just as true today as they did during Kevin’s youth.  They are not the only episodes to present such important lessons.  The lesson at the heart of “The Wedding” (no pun intended here) is yet another example of the importance of the show’s lessons to its writing.  It presents the message of social existence.  Just because Karen’s wedding isn’t the traditional wedding does not make it wrong.  It still allows her and her new husband to express their love to one another.  Sadly there are a lot of people who to this day still think that a wedding should be a certain way thanks to social norms and values.  Considering that, the lesson presented here is one from which so many audiences would benefit even today.  Keeping that in mind, the lesson presented here is yet one more example of the importance of the show’s lessons to its writing.  And as with the presented stories, it is hardly the last lesson that could be cited in exhibiting the importance of the show’s writing, too.  There are plenty of other lessons that could be cited here.  All in all they come together with the lessons noted here to show in full that the lessons presented within the episodes are just as important to the show’s writing as the presented episodes.  Now having considered all of this, the stories and lessons that are presented across The Wonder Years’ fifth season show unquestionably the importance of the season’s writing to its presentation.  As important as the writing proves to be to The Wonder Years’ fifth season it is not the only important part of its presentation.  The work of the show’s cast is just as important to note as that of the show’s writers.

The work of The Wonder Years’ writers proves to be unquestionably important to the series even in its fifth season.  That is because the writers have crafted stories that on one level are just as relevant today (yet again) as they were in their original broadcast.  On another level the lessons that are presented throughout give each episode (and the season in whole) just as much heart as the series’ previous four seasons.  While the writing proves to be so important to the series it is not the only important part of this season’s presentation.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note as the writing.  Their work shines through in every episode just as much as that of the writers.  One prime example of this comes midway into the season in “Private Butthead.”  When Wayne decides to join the Army, thinking he’s not smart enough to go to college, he and Jack butt heads over his decision.  What is evident on both parts is the love that Jack has for his son.  The emotion exhibited by Dan Lauria as he tries to persuade Wayne (Jason Hervey) to rethink his decision is so painful and heart-wrenching.  Lauria really makes audiences feel for him.  That is because he is not so much because Jack is mad at Wayne but rather because he is so scared for him and what might happen.  He explains to Wayne that it was different when he went to Korea.  He knows what happens in war.  He just doesn’t want that for his son.  It is a father’s love for his son.  And it shines here so brightly.  On the same note, Hervey is just as believable as Wayne butts  heads with Jack.  He makes audiences believe his performance just as much as Lauria does for Jack.  It would have been so easy for the pair to go over the top here.  But at no point does that happen.  It makes their performance one of the season’s best hands down.  It is just one example of how the cast’s work shines in this season.  Olivia d’Abo is just as impressive when she takes center stage in “The Wedding.”

Dan Lauria and Jason Hervey both exemplify the importance of the cast’s work when the pair take the lead in ‘Private Butthead.”  The duo expertly presents a situation that is just as prevalent today as it was so many decades ago.  The emotion exhibited by both men as they play their respective part in the story makes the story so emotionally gripping.  On another note, Kevin’s personal growth in “Day One” is another example of the importance of the cast’s work this season.  Audiences will find themselves completely enthralled in Fred Savage’s performance as Kevin goes from being a nervous high school “newbie” to being a proud, confident leader of sorts as he eventually leads his classmates in a protest against their tyrannical teacher.  It is so interesting to watch Kevin’s gradual personality change over the course of the episode.  That is thanks, again, to Savage’s attention to the story and control of Kevin’s growth.  It is yet another example of how the cast’s work shines here and most definitely not the last.  On another note, Olivia d’Abo is impressive in her own right during her time at the fore in “Stormy Weather.”

Dan Lauria, Jason Hervey, and Fred Savage all show in their own ways the importance of the cast’s work in this season of The Wonder Years.  Theirs isn’t the only notable work.  Olivia d’Abo deserves her own share of praise for her work as Kevin and Wayne’s sister Karen.  That is especially the case in ‘Stormy Weather.”  Here in this story is d’Abo portraying Karen as a grown woman yet someone who is still so vulnerable.  There is still that aspect of someone so young and inexperienced in life thanks to d’Abo’s performance.  D’Abo’s performance presents Karen as a young woman who is realizing that while she is an adult, she still obviously hasn’t completely found her way or herself.  And the moment at which she realizes this is one of the episode’s most powerful.  It is a subtle moment.  But those who pay close attention will catch it.  In doing so, those audiences will be so moved.  It is just one more way in which the cast’s work shines through in this season and shows its importance to the season’s presentation.  There are so many other moments that could be cited in exhibiting the importance of the cast’s work.  That would take far too much time, though.  Keeping that in mind, it would be safe to examine one more of the season’s important elements, its companion booklet.

Both the writing and acting behind the The Wonder Years in its fifth season do so much to make the show just as solid this time out as in its previous seasons.  They are not the season’s only important elements.  The companion booklet that comes with the set is just as important to note as the writing and acting.  Just as with the series’ previous seasons, this season’s companion booklet presents so much extra enjoyment for audiences.  It presents short but concise summaries for each of the season’s 24 episodes.  There are also some interesting tidbits included that range from behind-the-scenes information to some equally interesting history items.  For instance, in “Hero” it is noted that a then much younger James Caviezel actually had NBA aspirations in real life.  But an injury to Caviezel prevented those dreams from becoming reality, thus leading him to embark on an acting career.  It also presents a note about actor Paul Dooley, who played Kevin’s soccer coach, Pops in relation to the episode “Soccer.”  Audiences learn in watching this episode that Dooley was one of the creative forces behind PBS’ hit series The Electric Company.  There is even a note about author Jonathan Swift in relation to “Frank and Denise.”  It notes that Swift, who wrote Gulliver’s Travels, also wrote the 1,000 line poem “Cadenus and Vanessa,” that gets Denise so emotional in this episode.  The liner notes go on to state here that the poem in question was actually aobut his 17-year affair with Esther Vanhomrigh, whose parents were also friends of Swift.  It’s just one more interesting piece of information provided in the set’s companion booklet.  There is so much more that could be discussed including a little “pop quiz” related to Wayne’s SAT prep in “Private Butthead,” a brief history of the movie Carnal Knowledge and its impact upon its release, and even a little bit about actor Lyman Ward’s guest star appearance in “Of Mastodons and Men” among so much more.  Whether for these pieces of information, those more directly noted here or any of the others, it is clear that the companion booklet that comes with the fifth season of The Wonder Years is just as important to its presentation as the season’s writing and the work of the series’ cast.  Each element is important in its own right.  Heck, even the bonus material included on disc and the clear listing of episodes on the discs deserves being noted here, too.  All things considered, Time Life Entertainment and StarVista have proven once again with this collection why they are among the leading names in the home entertainment arena today.  It also shows why this recently released box set is one of the year’s top new box sets for grown ups.

The Wonder Years: Season 5 is yet another successful release from Time Life Entertainment and StarVista.  It shows once more why these two companies are, along with Shout! Factory and MPI Home Video, among the leading names in the home entertainment arena.  This is shown through the solid writing from the season premiere to the season finale.  This includes both the stories presented in each episode and the lessons (the heart) presented in each story.  The work of the series’ cast adds just as much enjoyment to each episode and the season in whole.  The companion booklet that is included in Season Five’s box adds just as much enjoyment to the set as its writing and acting.  The same can be said of the bonus material included on-disc and the clear listing of episodes on each disc.  Each element is equally deserving of being mentioned.  But there is just not enough time or space to do so.  All things considered Time Life Entertainment and StarVista have proven once again through all of these elements why they are among the home entertainment arena’s leading names.  Altogether they not only strengthen both companies’ reputations in the home entertainment arena but also show why this box set is one of the year’s top new box sets for grown ups.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from Time Life Entertainment and StarVista is available online now at:




Website: http://timelife.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS




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.

The Band Perry To Compete This Week On ABC’s ‘Celebrity Family Feud’

Courtesy:  BBGun Press

Courtesy: BBGun Press

One of country music’s top acts will make an appearance on ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud this Sunday night.

The Band Perry has announced that it will be on the new “spinoff” of the hugely popular trivia-based game show in this week’s episode. Celebrity Family Feud airs every Sunday night on ABC at 8pm local time.  Audiences should check their local listings for times.  The sibling trio act will compete for Teen Cancer America during its appearance on the show, which is part of ABC’s new “Sunday Game Show” programming block.  Also included in that programming block are reboots of Match Game and $100,000 Pyramid.

As an interesting note, The Band Perry’s song ‘Live Forever’ has been chosen as the theme song of Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics.  The 2016 Summer Olympics will be broadcast in the United States by NBC.  Audiences can see the video for the band’s song online here.  ‘Live Forever’ can purchased online now via iTunes.

More information on The Band Perry’s upcoming appearance on ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud is available online now at:




Website: http://www.thebandperry.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thebandperry




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Presenters, Attendees Announced For 2016 ESPYS Broadcast

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Next Wednesday night is the biggest night of the year for the sports world.  That is when ESPN hands out its annual sports awards, the ESPYS.  It was previously announced that WWE Superstar John Cena will serve as host of this year’s gala.  And now more information has finally been revealed about the big show.

Organizers with The ESPYS have finally made official the early list of presenters and attendees for this year’s ESPYS broadcast.  The presenters scheduled to appear at this year’s awards broadcast is (in alphabetical order): Chris Berman (ESPN Sportscaster), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors),Skylar Diggins (Dallas Wings), Lisa Leslie (retired WNBA player), David Oyelowo (Queen of Katwe), Usher Raymond IV (Hands of Stone) Lindsey Vonn (American World Skier), Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls), JJ Watt (Houston Texans) and Zendaya, among others.

The celebrities and athletes that are currently expected to appear at the ESPYS includes but is not limited to: Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys), Kobe Bryant (retired NBA player), Eric Hosmer (Kansas City Royals), Kerri Walsh Jennings (professional beach volleyball player), DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers), Sydney Leroux (FC Kansas City), Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers), Peyton Manning(retired NFL player), Von Miller (Denver Broncos), Danica Patrick (NASCAR driver), JR Smith (Cleveland Cavaliers), Abby Wambach(retired professional soccer player).

Along with all of the regular awards and other happenings, there will also be a very special tribute to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who just recently passed away.  NBA legend and NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Adbul-Jabar will be part of the tribute.  Crown and the M.O.B. will be the house band for the length of the broadcast.  There will also be a special performance by Andra Day.

The ESPYS will air next Wednesday night on ABC at 8pm ET.  It marks the second consecutive year that the annual awards gala has been held on ABC.  It will be televised live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.  More information about this year’s ESPYS broadcast is available online at:




Website: http://espn.go.com/espys/2016

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ESPYS




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Broadcast Teams Announced For 2016 ESPN/ABC College Football Broadcasts

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has announced some big plays for its upcoming season of college football broadcasts.

Officials with the worldwide leader in sports have announced that play-by-play commentator Dave Pasch and analyst Bob Wischusen will be back in the booth this season for ESPN and ABC’s college football broadcasts.  The pair re-signed during the off-season and will be in the booth for the foreseeable future.  New to the team this season are analyst Greg McElroy and reporter Allison Williams.  McElroy will join Pasch and field analyst Tom Luginbill for the networks’ broadcasts while Williams will join Wischusen and Brock Huard.  The exact details of Pasch and Wischusen’s new extensions were not announced nor were those of McElroy and Williams.

Lee Fitting, ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer discussed the new broadcast teams in a statement released to the press.  “The quality and depth of our on-air lineup continues to be one of the strengths of our college football coverage,” Fitting said.  “Dave and Bob will again be front and center on high impact games in key ESPN and ABC timeslots for us. We look forward to seeing Greg and Allison in their new roles.”

Pasch originally joined ESPN in 2003 and has served as play-by-play commentator for college football, men’s and women’s basketball, the NBA, the WNBA, and the Little League World Series.  His new deal will mean that the upcoming season of college football on ESPN and ABC will be his 12th.  He has served as play-by-play commentator for college basketball and football since 2005.  Together with Wisnuchen the pair has no less than a decade of experience at ESPN altogether.

McElroy comes to ESPN and ABC’s college football broadcast team from the SEC Network’s traveling pre-game show SEC Nation.  He is a former national champion-winning quarterback.  Along with his new duties, McElroy will continue to contribute to the SEC Network’s studio show SEC Now throughout the week.  He has served as a studio analyst for the SEC Network for the past two years along with covering a number of spring games, bowl games, and regular season games.

Williams  most recent assignment was working Friday night college football games.  She originally joined ESPN in 2011, at which time her duties included covering college football and college basketball.

More information on the new broadcast teams for ESPN and ABC’s Saturday college football broadcasts is available online now along with all of the latest college football headlines at:




Website: http://espn.go.com/college-football

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/espncfb




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.