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ESPN Details 25 th -Anniversary Programming

5/26/2004 6:45 AM Eastern

New York -- ESPN will kick off its 25th-anniversary programming May 30 with the first edition of “The Moments” -- Gene Larkin’s pinch-hit single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Minnesota Twins a 1-0, game-seven triumph over the Atlanta Braves in the 1991 World Series.

The 30-second vignettes, narrated by Chris Berman, count down the leading remembrances. Premiering on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, the vignettes will run daily in that time slot until Sept. 7, the network’s birthday, when the top one will be revealed.

Robert Abbott, coordinating producer of “ESPN25,” the in-depth multimedia initiative commemorating the past quarter century in sports, unveiled the rest of the TV lineup at ESPN SportsZone restaurant in Times Square here Wednesday.

On June 8 at 7 p.m. (EST), Dan Patrick hosts a two-hour special, Then and Now, documenting the changing face of sports over the last quarter century.

Patrick will host segments, framing the show, from locations that were home to sports dynasties of the period: Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers Chicago Bulls and New York Yankees.

Then and Now will also present a countdown of the 25 greatest athletes of that time frame, determined by the vote of some 250,000 fans on ESPN.com (msn.espn.go.com).

Abbott said the show -- “a mix of documentary-style story-telling and entertainment” -- will conclude with seven “miracle segments that still resonate with sports fans today.” These components will feature actors voicing over journalistic prose about such events as Boston College’s Doug Flutie’s last-second touchdown heave against the University of Miami or the U.S. hockey team upsetting the invincible Soviet Union.

To that end, a clip at the event had Tom Cruise reading the late Pete Axthelm’s take on the improbable proceedings in Lake Placid, N.Y., for Newsweek: “This was not just a sports story, but a morality play on ice.”

The bulk of the ESPN25’s 32 programming hours begins the following Tuesday and continues in that time slot through the anniversary date.

Who’s # 1, hosted by Stuart Scott at 7 p.m., will center on such lists at the best and worst teams, biggest flops and chokes, best sports commercials and movies. These lists were determined by a vote of a blue-ribbon panel of experts.

That will be followed in the 8 p.m. hour by Bob Ley-hosted The Headlines, which will focus on the biggest stories of the period, replete with fresh interviews from the athletes involved, perspectives from outside essayists, including Walter Cronkite, and a closing panel comprising Ley, writers Tony Kornheiser and Ralph Wiley, plus veteran broadcaster Dick Enberg.

Clips at the event took a look at Ben Johnson being stripped of his 100-meter gold medal, the stabbing of tennis’ Monica Seles and the death of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing’s Dale Earnhardt.

On Sept. 5 at midnight, SportsCenter The Next 25 Years will try to forecast the next quarter century of athletics. Linda Cohn and John Anderson will serve as hosting soothsayers of the show, which will utilize such regular SportsCenter segments as “Top 10”, “Fact or Fiction” and “The Hot Seat” to explore the world that may lie ahead.

ESPN25: Silver Anniversary Special is set for Sept. 6 at 8 p.m., and it will examine the network’s history, development and impact. There will also be a look at milestones, personalities and programs that have served to grow the company, as well as bloopers. Berman will host.

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