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FOX Worried John Madden Wouldn’t Appear In All Madden Doc

“Zynotz, Santos, and Rinaldi were not entirely sure they could get him to appear on camera and share his memories of his impact on the broadcasting world.”

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Richie Zyontz is the man that deserves credit for getting the ball rolling on a documentary honoring the impact John Madden had on the game of football long after his retirement. Zynotz is the lead NFL producer for FOX Sports. He also happens to be one of Madden’s very best friends.

The two text daily. Madden introduced Zynotz to the woman he would go on to marry in a ceremony that happened at the former Raider coach’s home with the man himself standing by Zynotz’s side as his best man.

While Joel Santos and Tom Rinaldi are credited as co-producers and co-directors of All Madden, the documentary that will air on Christmas Day on FOX, it was Richie Zyontz that approached FOX Sports boss Eric Shanks with the idea.

“I had thought about this for a long time and it bothers me that people think history began last year or last week,” he told The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch. “Flavors of the day come and go, but Madden is a giant who forever changed the way sports are presented on TV. Shanks loves and respects John as much as I do, so it took no convincing.”

One person that did take some convincing was Madden himself. The former coach was always willing to be a part of the project. Zynotz, Santos, and Rinaldi were not entirely sure they could get him to appear on camera and share his memories of his impact on the broadcasting world.

“We knew John would cooperate, but would he participate?” Rinaldi said. “It was a huge question for us. Would he sit for an interview, the first lengthy on-camera interview of any kind in well more than a decade, essentially since he left the stage? When you’re fixed in the public’s mind for so long looking and sounding a certain way, you’re almost not permitted to age and only because you’re fixed in this one image.”

“He hadn’t been on camera in eight or nine years, and while that mind remains a steel trap, he has hearing issues and his voice understandably isn’t as strong as the voice we all remember,” Zynotz added.

The crew started with an introductory visit just to get John Madden reminiscing and telling stories. They wanted him to be comfortable with his ability to speak on some of the topics that they wanted to hear him address.

After that, filming sessions began. Rinaldi notes that some tweaking had to be done, but in the end, he thinks the audience will be very satisfied with the version of John Madden they see and hear.

“One of the challenges of the interview is John’s voice,” Rinaldi continued. “At times at the end of a longer answer, it wouldn’t be as strong as it was at the start of the answer. So he would take a drink or have lozenges and things like that. We’ve since gone up and had a few short audio sessions with John to have him amplify a particular answer. But overall, I think everyone who has seen and heard John, they’d say that’s John Madden.”

A special treat for Madden himself will be hearing from participants just how much he has impacted the NFL. The crew filmed 38 interviews for the documentary. No one they asked turned them down and they had every one of them deliver a personal message to the former coach and broadcasting icon.

Those messages have been cut together into a 50-minute montage that will be delivered to John Madden on Christmas Day so that he can watch them with his family.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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