Sunday, May 25, 2008
Anyone Heard From TNT Lately?
The TNT.tv website stares back at NASCAR fans with the faces that they have come to know all too well. Kyra Sedgwick is still The Closer. Holly Hunter is still Saving Grace.
One click of the SPORTS button reveals the love of the network for the NBA. There are videos, articles and even an NBA Message Board section. At the bottom, there are lots of pictures of Dennis Rodman celebrating his birthday. Apparently, they were taken prior to Rodman being arrested for domestic violence and checking into an alcohol rehab facility.
What there is not on the TNT website is any mention of the fact that in less than twenty days the network will be taking over the TV coverage of one of the biggest professional sports in North America. On June 8th, TNT will cover the Pocono 500 live as they begin a six race TV package of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.
Over at NASCAR.com there is a link to NASCAR on TNT. The updated video content is directly from the NASCAR.com site. The headline on the page says TNT information will be "coming soon." TNT announcer Bill Weber's last story is from November of 2007. Where NASCAR is concerned, TNT seems to be frozen in time.
At Pocono, TNT will not be televising practice or qualifying. Those sessions will be carried on SPEED. The first time we will see the TNT crew is on the pre-race show for the Cup race on Sunday afternoon. How long that show will be is not available, as TNT only provides the program schedule online two weeks in advance.
Last season, it was TNT's own Marc Fein who handled the show host role. Fein does some on-camera work for NASCAR.com, but hosting a multi-hour live high-profile race telecast was over his head. He is comfortable on-the-air with stick-and-ball sports, but since TNT originates no other NASCAR programming, Fein is out of the NASCAR TV loop.
Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds are the new kids in the TNT mix. Last season, they continually rescued the fractured telecasts with their veteran perspectives. Despite the problems Petty experienced in Sonoma, he got comfortable in his analyst role very quickly.
Throughout the telecasts, TNT primary analyst Wally Dallenbach was relegated to the role of beginning every sentence with "just like Kyle said." Having two drivers in the TV booth did not work. There was a good reason why.
Seated down on TNT's outdoor spinning stage was Larry McReynolds. Relegated to the infield by Dallenbach, McReynolds continually performed as if he was actually in the broadcast booth. Focused for the entire event, McReynolds provided strategy and technical knowledge. The telecasts often turned into conversations between McReynolds and Petty.
Viewers know that Weber has been around NASCAR for a long time. Last season, it often appeared that he wanted to be anywhere but at the track for TNT. Fein had taken his pre-race host role, Petty and McReynolds dominated the telecasts and the surprising pit reporters filled-in the gaps. It didn't take long for Weber to get mad, and stay mad.
After the problems that ESPN experienced in 2007, that network made wholesale changes in both personnel and production. The results have been the most dramatic turn-a-round in recent NASCAR TV history.
With less than three weeks before being live on-the-air, nothing has come from TNT about their NASCAR plans for 2008. What elements will change, what will remain the same and how TNT will approach the July race in Daytona are certainly going to be interesting issues to discover.
The featured information currently on TNT.tv is that all-new episodes of The Closer will be coming in July. That may be the last thing some fans want to hear, but it is almost certain that they will be reminded of it a time or two this summer.
The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.