Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ESPN Sr. NASCAR Producer Arrested (Updated 5PM ET)

It's been a very difficult day for ESPN. Network veteran Neil Goldberg, pictured above in the NASCAR TV production truck, has been arrested in Connecticut on four criminal charges. Goldberg is currently the Sr. Motorsports Producer for ESPN.

The nature of the charges makes it all the worse as ESPN has a long history of sexually-related incidents and arrests. The story is already making its way through the sports blogs and will no doubt be in the mainstream media soon.

Here is a concise summary from the website:

An ESPN producer turned himself into authorities on Tuesday after he was caught peering into a neighbor’s window and masturbating while she was getting dressed.

Neil Goldberg was charged with public indecency, simple trespass, disorderly conduct and breach of peace, according to police in Connecticut. Last month, a neighbor walking her dog spotted Goldberg standing on a stool and masturbating while peering in a window. Goldberg later admitted to police that he watched his neighbor get dressed in her bedroom.

The 52-year-old Goldberg is a senior producer for ESPN’s motorsports coverage. He posted $1,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court later this month in Hartford, CT.

Update: At 5PM ET ESPN advised that they are still in the process of looking into the situation. Goldberg will not be traveling to California for the ESPN NASCAR coverage. Sr. Coordinating Producer Jill Fredrickson will be producing the Sprint Cup Series race from Auto Club Speedway on Sunday.

Earlier this year, the network suspended analyst Randy LaJoie for failing a NASCAR drug test. LaJoie has been reinstated by NASCAR, but remains suspended from ESPN. Columnist Jay Mariotti was involved in a domestic incident in Los Angeles resulting in his arrest. Mariotti has not worked for ESPN since that time.

In the interest of fairness, I have known Goldberg since the 1980's when we worked on the ESPN NASCAR and Formula 1 telecasts. I have not been in contact with him for over a decade. He is one of the most veteran motorsports producers in the country.

Once ESPN releases a statement on this issue, comments will be opened.

Wednesday TV/Media Notes

Here we go with some mid-week NASCAR notes:

Aretha sang "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" and that was the NASCAR Fan Council email topic this week. Do your friends and family respect you when they find out you follow NASCAR? Are your personal values the same as the sport of NASCAR?

Other marketing research questions concerned the quality and length of the Kansas races as well as TV viewing habits. The Fan Council is a group of volunteers used to get timely data about various topics within the sport. Click here for the website.

It's true, the boys from South Park have a NASCAR-themed episode ready for airing Wednesday night at 10PM on Comedy Central. "Poor and stupid" is the title of the show, so it's probably a good idea for folks not familiar with the adult content and harsh comedy to take everything with a grain of salt. Click here for a brief preview.

The TV ratings for the Sprint Cup Series race from Kansas are out and the trend of smaller audiences continues. Here is the official scoop from

ESPN's live telecast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 3, earned a final national household coverage rating of 2.3, averaging 3.7 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. Last year's race aired on ABC and earned a 3.2 rating.

To put these numbers in yet another perspective, last week's Jersey Shore on MTV attracted 6.7 million viewers on cable while Sunday Night Football boasted 15.9 million on broadcast TV.

Just a heads-up that next Wednesday is the Hall of Fame selection day. TV coverage is on SPEED at 3PM with an edited preview show and then the live announcement in the 4PM hour. One of the potential nominees is working for SPEED.

"I’m going to be crying either way," said Darrell Waltrip. "If I am lucky enough to get in this group, it will be very emotional and if I don’t I will be really disappointed and sad. I’m one of those guys who can’t cover up his emotions."

"I think my record as a driver is as good as anybody’s," Waltrip continued. "In the modern era, since 1972, I’ve won more races than anyone."

Ironically, Waltrip will be joined on SPEED for the telecast by Mike Joy, Ken Squier and Kyle Petty. All three of those NASCAR personalities are also voting members of the selection committee.

In reference to the audio problems on Sunday's Kansas pre-race show, ESPN is in deep denial. Nationwide on ESPN2 there was nothing but static for 33 minutes on both cable and satellite providers. Hundreds of fans confirmed the problem from coast to coast. The ESPN2HD feed was fine, suggesting the problem was in Bristol, CT.

Here is the official ESPN response to NASCAR fans who emailed about the situation:

Your feedback is appreciated and will be passed on to our technicians for review.

However, please note that the feed send out by ESPN is being monitored constantly for quality assurance and no such technical problems have been detected.

Please contact your local cable or satellite provider regarding the technical difficulties you're experiencing, to make sure the problem does not stem from their transmission or your outlet.

Part of the problem with denying the issue was the fact that ESPN2 never ran a crawl telling affected viewers to tune to ESPN2HD if possible. As a matter of fact, no crawl appeared at any time to help viewers understand the overall situation.

ESPN did remind us that a Twitter message was sent and Allen Bestwick apologized on the air once the problem was fixed. The network is still trying to determine exactly what happened.

On the TV scheduling front, BET moved Changing Lanes from 8 to 10PM ET Wednesdays without even a press release. The series will finish the season at that time. Not a classy move by the network for a new original series.

NASCAR - Next Generation is a quiet little show at 7:30PM ET Wednesday nights on VERSUS. Produced by the NASCAR Media Group, it's a nice look at the up and coming racers. Great show to record for later viewing.

If you are a fan of classic NASCAR tracks, the ARCA Series returns to Rockingham Speedway on Saturday for the season finale on SPEED at 1PM. Always good to see that track back in use with stock cars. Steve Park, Ty Dillon and Tim George will mix it up with ARCA regulars Patrick Sheltra, Craig Goess and Tom Hessert.

The full TV schedule is on the left side of this page and is continually updated with announcers and show guests. Please click the comment button below to leave your opinion on any of the topics mentioned above. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.