Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts
Mixed Martial Arts

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Welcome to my blog which deals with mixed martial arts betting and preview with a detailed analysis on the world of MMA. This blogs covers anything relating to the UFC, Strikeforce, Dreams or any other MMA organization.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Power of Celebrity

Once upon a utopian time, broadcasting a sport was just about that sport.

Now? Not so much.

Now it is increasingly becoming about celebrity. Our culture has been programmed by Hollywood to be celebrity obsessed. Since the first commercial films were produced early last century, the moguls running the studios understood that mass marketing of their “stars” made the sheep fans lineup at the movie houses.

Moviegoers were programmed into thinking the lives of those they were seeing up there on the silver screen were simply fabulous. In reality, again, not so much.
Yet the power of celebrity continues. From the seemingly inexplicable obsession with a has-been small-talent teenybopper named Britney, to sites like TMZ.com that live off, and make a fortune from, catching the rich and famous being stupid and pathetic, we apparently can’t get enough.

Today’s entertainment moguls running sports broadcasting have clearly noticed – and they have recently – to borrow a phrase from another of the entertainment industry’s manufactured talents – bumped it up a notch.

The Kentucky Derby has been on television since 1952. For more than half a century the coverage has been all about racing tradition, the Derby’s history, the great horses from previous years, the possibility of one of the field becoming the next legendary 3-year old, the mint juleps, and the drunks in the infield.

Now? To start the coverage on Saturday we got perhaps the B-est of all B-celebrities, Jennifer Tilly.

Tilly has three claims to fame as far as I know. First and foremost is her cleavage. Second, once she was in a lesbo-sex scene with Gina Gershon and third, she is a celebrity poker player.
Was it those gambling skills that got her on the tube? Not when the only insight she could offer was: "I don't know a lot about horses. I'm not a scientist of it."

Shortly there afterwards came Nick Lachey, the once 98 Degrees boy-band member whose greatest accomplishment since has been seeing his ex-wife, Jessica Simpson naked. He was showing off his new girlfriend, C-celeb, Vanessa Minnillo and the fact that he was less of a scientist than Tilly. Some sports guys did show up shortly there afterwards: Byron Leftwich and Michael Strahan. What did those two football players know about handicapping? Nothing it turns out.

But the icing on the cake came from actor Jerry O'Connell, who you of course remember as the fat kid from Stand by Me, (No?) who said he had just met the Queen, (who was at the race adding some much needed class)…

…in the port-a-potty line.

Oh, and the laughter that ensued.

NBC does have a problem broadcasting the Kentucky Derby. How do you fill a three-hour time slot when the object of the exercise is a sporting event that lasts two-minutes? It appears that, just like the folks who make movies, those in television have also run out of ideas.

The Derby is just the latest victim. This has been raising its ugly head in all major sports television properties, but it seems to me recently, even more so. Watching the NBA post season coverage, that sport is even more celebrity obsessed than the rest.

In the Raptors Nets series, the producers couldn’t get enough of James Gandolfini. The Sopranos star was there supporting the Nets, and the only interest he added to the broadcast was trying to figure out how he fit his bulk - he looked even larger on the NBA small screen than on the HBO series - in that little courtside seat. Bruce Willis was also there in all his glory. The difference was they gave him a microphone clearly not realizing he was two-sheets to the wind. They got their celebrity on their air – and they got that celebrity to swear! Ratings jump!
Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria is engaged to San Antonio Spur Tony Parker, yet despite her sitting in the stands, she’s getting more airtime than him. The irony of it all is she couldn’t look more bored whenever she’s on camera.

Not all the celebrity content is bad. Interviewing Wayne Gretzky on the sidelines of the Suns-Spurs series, he did offer some insight into how his playmaking ability on the ice is similar to Steve Nash’s on the court. Then after being asked if Nash playing with six stitches was part of a Canadian hockey player mentality, Gretzky revealed he once got cut for 78 stitches. Frankenstein Lives!

Those occasions are rare. It remains a mystery to me why those in sports television are so obsessed with getting celebrities in the broadcasts. It couldn’t be that they are as celebrity obsessed as the rest of us could it? The bottom line is this: The games in the NBA post season have been great. The Kentucky Derby was as well. Why do we need all that so-called “sizzle” when the substance is so good?