DiMaggio, reluctant near-myth, suddenly in the booth, on tape

Media Watch

October 24, 1997|By MILTON KENT

Just as when a celebrity or member of royalty passes through a room, there were, no doubt, more than a few gasps across the country earlier this week when Joe DiMaggio turned up in the NBC booth during the World Series.

Decades after he last patrolled center field in Yankee Stadium, DiMaggio still projects a near-mystical aura, which, combined with his reluctance to be seen publicly outside occasional stadium appearances, make him sports' answer to late actress Greta Garbo, who wanted very much to be left alone.

The timing of DiMaggio's appearance couldn't be better for a new HBO documentary, "Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio," that will appear on the pay-cable channel through the next month, including tomorrow at 9: 45 a.m. and Tuesday at 6 a.m. and 10: 15 p.m.

The hourlong piece, which features film footage and photos, chronicles the life and times of the Yankee Clipper from his early days in San Francisco through his playing days and into his later years through the words and remembrances of many of his former teammates, contemporaries and biographers.

Though such notables as former President Bush, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and former Yankees Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra and Jerry Coleman offer up thoughts on DiMaggio, the one voice not heard is that of the man himself.

That's in keeping with DiMaggio's supreme reluctance to go anywhere near the public spotlight. Author David Halberstam describes DiMaggio as being "pathologically suspicious" of just about anyone, especially after his failed marriage to actress Marilyn Monroe.

Yet, the DiMaggio who emerges from the biopic is a warm man, who simply wants to take in the world on his own terms, and the documentary is yet another piece of work from HBO, which has announced plans for a similar project on Babe Ruth that will run next August.

Truth Squad, Week 8

Poor Larry Brown. The Oakland Raiders cornerback has been torched all season, and the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player got nailed Sunday on the NFL pre-game shows, as all four cited his suspension.

However, contrary to reports from CNN, Fox and NBC, a settlement of Brown's contract has not been announced.

CNN's Peter King also reported that CBS will try to get back into NFL telecasts by creating a package from Thanksgiving, Thursday night and Saturday afternoon games, if the network can't pry "Monday Night Football" away from ABC. Stay tuned.

Around the dial

The potential of a seventh World Series game between Florida and Cleveland from Miami has set up an interesting quandary for Fox and ABC. Fox is scheduled to carry the Bears-Dolphins contest from Pro Player Stadium on Sunday (Channel 45, 4 p.m.), but that won't happen if the Marlins and Indians go to a deciding game Sunday night in the same park.

If that happens, the football game would be shifted to Monday night, marking only the second time that two games would be played on Monday night. However, only Chicago and Miami would see the Dolphins-Bears, while the rest of the country would get the Green Bay-New England game (Channel 2, 9 p.m.). Meanwhile, Baltimoreans would get Minnesota-Tampa Bay on Sunday in place of the Chicago-Miami game.

Got it?

Soccer's American professional championship gets decided Sunday in Washington as the homestanding D.C. United meets the Colorado Rapids for the MLS Cup (Channel 2, 3: 30 p.m.).

And, speaking of soccer, the local indoor team, the Spirit, opens play tomorrow night in Philadelphia on its new local radio station, WCBM (680 AM), with Gary Stein on the play-by-play and Art Sinclair doing color on all home games and some road contests, as well as being host to an expanded pre-game show. Tomorrow's game will air at 7: 07 p.m.

The latest in Robin Roberts' series of celebrity interviews, "In the SportsLight", will air tonight on ESPN at 7: 30, with comedian Drew Carey and political analyst George Will getting the grilling.

CBS, fresh off a college football ratings win last weekend over ABC and NBC, has a pretty attractive game tomorrow with No. 21 West Virginia host to 19th-ranked Virginia Tech (Channel 13, 3 p.m.). And Maryland will try to stave off another loss at home against Clemson (Channel 2, 3: 30 p.m.)

While CNN brings back "This Week in the NBA" Sunday at 11: 30 p.m., just in time for the coming season, its corporate cousins at TNT wrap up a fine half-season of NFL telecasts with the Atlanta-Carolina game Sunday at 7 p.m. with the pre-game show. Though Sunday's contest isn't up to the standard of the early part of its schedule, TNT, as always, has done a great job -- the best of any of the NFL carriers -- and hopefully will be back next year when the new contract is settled.

Pub Date: 10/24/97

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