'Real Sports' not afraid to tackle truth


No one connected with HBO's "Real Sports" magazine intends for the program to be a vehicle for crusades and the uncovering of wrongdoing, but if some muck has to be raked in the course of a show, so be it.

"Good solid broadcast journalism is just telling the truth and uncovering stories that are swept under rugs for years and years. We just want to find them," said Ross Greenburg, HBO Sports' senior vice president and executive producer.

"I'm not Ralph Nader. None of us are. We're not trying to change the world. We're just trying to tell good stories and, if good comes out of it, great."

For the second installment of the quarterly show, which airs for the first time Sunday at 9:45 p.m., two of the three long-form "Real Sports" pieces have the air of muckraking about them.

In one story -- anchored by Larry Merchant and produced by award-winning producer/director Julie Anderson, who helmed the network's splendid Arthur Ashe biography -- "Real Sports" looks into how NFL team doctors struggle with their responsibilities to the players they treat and the teams they work for.

A second story, reported by James Brown of Fox, looks into the relationship between players and their agents, examining three athletes, baseball player Jody Reed, football's Leonard Russell and Chris Webber of the Washington Bullets.

In a related story, host Bryant Gumbel will talk with Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers, one of a group of dissident NBA players seeking to decertify the players' union, presumably at the behest of their agents.

The final long piece, a 12-minute profile of Lenny Dykstra of the Phillies, narrated by NBC/HBO's Jim Lampley, is most notable for the presence of two-time Academy Award-winning producer Barbara Kopple. "She has a real artist rendering of how to put together a profile," said Greenburg of Kopple. "It [working in television] is a little bit of a challenge for her because she's used to one or two hours to tell a story. Her first edit on this piece came in at one hour.

The final component of "Real Sports" is a review of the career of Howard Cosell.

What? No Bullets again?

The Washington Bullets, who last appeared on an over-the-air network telecast during the Pleistocene Era, have been shut out of NBC's 1995-96 NBA schedule, released late last week.

In fact, the Bullets will make just one scheduled, league-mandated national network appearance -- the same as the new Vancouver and Toronto franchises -- a Dec. 27 home meeting with the Golden State Warriors on TBS.

NBC will carry 25 regular-season games and the All-Star Game from San Antonio in a package that begins Christmas Day, with a doubleheader, pitting the Spurs against the Suns in the early game and the two-time defending champion Houston Rockets taking on the Orlando Magic in a championship series rematch in the late game in prime time.

The Magic and the Chicago Bulls each will make eight NBC appearances, followed by the Spurs, Suns and Rockets, who each make seven, and the New York Knicks, who will appear six times.

On the cable side, TNT will carry 45 regular-season contests on Tuesdays and Fridays, and TBS will air 25 games, all on Wednesdays. The Bulls and Magic each will get 14 plays on the two networks, with the Hornets and the Knicks appearing 12 times and the Suns getting 11. The Rockets will show up eight times on the Turner networks.

Frank, Sonny and Sam return

Infinity Broadcasting has announced that the longtime Washington Redskins radio trio of Frank Herzog, Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff will return this fall for their 14th season together.

The Redskins radio rights have shifted from Washington's WTEM (570 AM) to Infinity, which operates WJFK (106.7 FM in Washington and 1300 AM in Baltimore).

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