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Vince McMahon, Tom Rinaldi Producing ‘Pinned’ Wrestling Drama for NBCUniversal

Pinned will be an “adrenalized” drama that follows the behind-the-scenes workings of a fictional wrestling promotion and the “unforgettable” characters featured in the ring.

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For as much as professional wrestling is already dramatized, the dramatization of pro wrestling is increasingly drawing interest at broadcast, cable, and streaming networks.

According to Deadline, NBCUniversal is developing a new drama set in the world of professional wrestling titled Pinned.

WWE chairman Vince McMahon is an executive producer on the project, along with Fox Sports reporter Tom Rinaldi. Craig O’Neill is writing the series. He’s been an executive producer on CSI: Vegas and MacGyver, and will have the same role on Pinned.

According to producers, Pinned will be an “adrenalized” drama that follows the behind-the-scenes workings of a fictional wrestling promotion and the “unforgettable” characters featured in the ring. Stories will also look at the culture of wrestling and the drama that takes place among the wrestlers outside of the ring along with the executives who run the promotion.

If that sounds a lot like Starz’s recent wrestling drama, Heels, starring Stephen Amell and featuring former NFL linebacker James Harrison, that’s the territory being covered. Although the wrestling promotion covered in Heels is a regional endeavor in the fictional small town of Duffy, Georgia.

Perhaps Pinned will follow a more national promotion that works in multiple territories throughout the country like WWE and AEW. And with NBCUniversal and big names like McMahon driving it, maybe the series will attract bigger names for the cast. However, Heels drew good reviews from critics and fans.

Other dramatized, scripted wrestling series that have aired or are currently in development include NBC’s Young Rock, which follows Dwayne Johnson’s life growing up as the son of pro wrestler Rocky Johnson with performers such as Andre the Giant, the Iron Sheik, and Randy “Macho Man” Savage hanging around regularly.

Blumhouse TV is also developing The United States vs. Vince McMahon, a dramatization of the 1994 WWF steroid trials in which McMahon was alleged to provide illegal steroids to his performers. WWE and McMahon are producers on that project. (The WWF steroid trials were also recently covered on VICE TV’s Dark Side of the Ring docuseries, which features dramatic re-enactments of certain events when necessary.)

As of yet, Pinned is not set up at any NBCUniversal network (NBC, USA Network, Bravo, etc.) or streaming platform. But it sure sounds like good content for Peacock, which already features WWE programming.

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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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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