Tackling One of Cinema’s Conundrums: Which Sports Film Is All-Time Champ?

MSG Network Looks to Answer Question with 'The Lineup: Best Sports Movies'
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In its third iteration, MSG’s Emmy Award-winning franchise The Lineup looks to tackle a question for the ages — or at least for the 20th and 21st centuries: Which is the greatest sports fi lm of all time?

Each 30-minute episode of The Lineup: Best Sports Movies — premiering Monday, April 8, and running through Thursday, April 18 — will present five films in one of eight different categories: baseball, basketball, football, boxing, golf, hockey, horse racing and miscellaneous.

A panel comprising director Spike Lee; actors Robert Wuhl and Chazz Palminteri; and film critic Jeffrey Lyons will debate the merits of each movie until they ultimately decide on the best of the group. Numerous athletes and celebrities will also share their views on the films. Veteran broadcaster and former Yankees catcher Fran Healy is the host.

Lyons, at an MSGN event at the Flatiron Room in Manhattan on April 3, told The Wire that of all the sports movies, there are “really only about 50 great ones” and “almost all of them” are featured in the series.

“Sports are so much better in real life, that when a movie captures something special about the sport, you really love it,” he said.

He disagreed with Wuhl’s contention that the mano-a-mano, winner-vs.-loser nature of boxing makes it the top subgenre for sports fi lms.

“I love a good baseball movie like [the soon-to-be released Jackie Robinson biopic] 42, which I hadn’t seen when we taped the show,” Lyons said, quickly listing a lineup of Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, The Natural and Eight Men Out.

As to basketball, Lyons quickly hailed Hoosiers and, when pressed, expressed some love — “it’s fun, it’s entertaining” — for The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, featuring one of The Wire’s all-time favorites, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, as Moses Guthrie. Lyons was more effusive in support of 1954’s Go Man Go, starring Sidney Poitier as a player and Dane Clark as Abe Saperstein, the creator of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Noting he had seen hundreds of films since The Lineup taped in January, Lyons said he would have to go down the list to point to other surprises, before mentioning 1969’s Downhill Racer, with Robert Redford and Gene Hackman. “I’m not a skier, but I like that film,” Lyons said.

AMC Spokesman Sends a [Love/Like] Letter to Cable Scribes

And we thought only The Wire had a wicked sense of humor.

Jim Maiella, spokesman par excellence at Cablevision Systems, left that post after 11 years to move to AMC Networks to run business and trade media relations for AMC Networks (AMC, IFC, WE tv and IFC Films).

Last week, he sent out new contact info in an e-mail that — though it went out on April 4, not April 1 — had some fun with the journalists he has been helping make news and deadlines while at Cablevision.

Under the header, “New Contact Info Template — DRAFT,” read the following:

Dear [Journalist],

As we’ve enjoyed a [friendly/productive/contentious] relationship in the past, I wanted you to have my new contact information at AMC Networks.

I have always [respected/acknowledged/begrudged] your work, and [hope/assume] we will continue to have reasons to be in touch.

[Applicable personal rapport-building anecdote] Thanks. You are a [smart/talented/functional] journalist, and I am [looking forward to/girding for] the next time we have occasion to work together.

Jim

Maiella confirmed it was an intentional riff , not a slip of the mouse or a reason to scramble for the “recall” button.

Nice.

- John Eggerton

Kept in Translation: How Honey Boo Boo Sounds in Portugese

If you think Honey Boo Boo’s accent is hard to pierce in English, try her in Portuguese.

The pint-sized phenomenon’s show, TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, launched internationally earlier this year in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Asia- Pacific, Australia and Latin America.

The show, about 7-year-old beauty-pageant veteran Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson and her quirky family, has been a U.S. ratings hit for TLC and is quickly gaining an audience overseas. It’s the third-most-popular show in Poland, where it launched Feb. 13, according to TLC parent Discovery Communications.

But the characters’ thick Southern accents and regional vocabulary can be hard to understand: Portions of the show are subtitled even in the U.S.

International markets present an even bigger challenge — just how do you translate “vajiggle jaggle” in any language?

At Discovery Networks International’s upfront breakfast in New York last week, executive vice president and chief content officer Luis Silberwasser said DNI is developing an international glossary to better explain what the characters are saying.

He said the programmer also has hired voiceover actors in certain markets to dub characters in the native language.

“It has a language that is difficult to understand even if you speak English,” Silberwasser said. “That is a challenge, and we are experimenting with different things.

“The way we translate, in some cases we are actually employing comedians, to make sure it has a special voice, to try to make it not a straightforward documentary voice,” he added. “We’re experimenting on the language side, and that will play a big part in whether she works [internationally] or not.”

Among the show’s biggest attributes are the distinctive Georgia accents of the characters, and Discovery wants to retain that essence.

“In some cases, we try to find people who can make an accent that is sort of an equivalent,” Silberwasser said. “In Brazil, we tell the dubbing house we need to fi nd somebody who is not just speaking Portuguese in the normal accent, but that has an accent that represents how somebody from a rural area of Brazil would talk.”

Silberwasser said whether the show is a hit internationally remains to be seen, but added that despite the unusual things the family does, its underlying premise — a close-knit family that cares for each other — resonates with all audiences.

“People at the end of the day may look at it differently, but they’re a family and they are dealing with the same issues we are,” Silberwasser said.

- Mike Farrell

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