ESPN casts into past for `Sportsman' show

Adventure series will use Gowdy program as model

BASS Classic notebook

July 28, 2002|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - ESPN hopes to tap into the future of outdoors sports shows by taking a page from the past.

This fall, the sports network will debut The New American Sportsman as the centerpiece of a prime-time block of shows on ESPN2 targeted at anglers, hunters and campers.

The hour-long show is an update of The American Sportsman that was hosted by Curt Gowdy from the 1960s to the 1980s. The program followed celebrities on adventures around the world.

A preview of the new show featured actor Greg Kinnear on a photo safari to watch scientists track the migration of rhinos and golfer Jack Nicklaus tarpon fishing.

"We're going to try and broaden the audience," said Mark Quenzel, senior vice president of programming for ESPN.

The show hasn't selected the Gowdy 2002 model yet, but Quenzel promised a fresh approach, with "a good, young host" and some young celebrities to tape segments.

And he promised other shows in the prime-time block that will show "exciting places to go and open up the world."

The inaugural airing of the show will be 8 p.m. on Sept. 9.

Tip of hat to Clunn

BASS honored four-time Classic champion Rick Clunn yesterday, awarding him the first "Outstanding Achievement" trophy.

Clunn won 13 BASSMASTER events, collected almost $1.5 million in prize money on the circuit and made 28 consecutive Classics, before missing the cut this year.

The 55-year-old angler from Ava, Mo., hoisted over his head the crystal-and-gold trophy depicting an eagle in flight with a fish in its talons. He thanked the fans, calling them his "extended family."

As part of the ceremony, the same eagle that flew at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics made a short flight inside the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center arena.

Maryland takes bow

The Maryland B.A.S.S. Federation took top honors for best publication of the year at the awards ceremony yesterday.

The 1,160-member club puts out a full-color quarterly magazine that covers local tournaments and conservation efforts.

The New York club, with 800 members, won Federation of the Year for raising $6,000 for the World Trade Center relief efforts and $4,500 for academic scholarships.

The Maryland group was represented at the luncheon by Scott Sewell, the conservation director, and Roger Tragersen of the executive board.

Youngsters on target

The annual Casting Kids competition crowned two national winners during the Classic.

Rex Rodanas, 12, of Bedford, N.H., won the 11-14 division with a score of 140 points. Benjamin Tawney, 10, of Parkton, N.C., collected 130 points to win the 7-10 division. Each received a $5,000 scholarship.

Anglers are graded for accuracy in flipping, pitching and casting to a bull's-eye. A perfect score is 150 points.

Rodanas, a six-time state champion, was half of a brother-sister team at the competition. Vanessa, 10, finished in fifth place.

Tawney is a two-time state champion.

Casting Kids was established in 1991 to help attract youngsters to fishing. The program has had more than 1 million participants and given out more than $2 million in prize money.

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