Archive for Friday, February 8, 2002

Olympics to rule television

February 8, 2002


The opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics (7 p.m., NBC) promise to combine pageantry and patriotism. Athletes from more than 80 nations will carry their flags in a parade attended by President Bush.

NBC and its cable affiliates CNBC and MSNBC have scheduled a total of 375.5 hours of Olympic coverage, more than double the number of hours available from the 1998 games from Nagano, Japan. CNBC will provide 76 hours of hockey coverage  more live coverage of hockey than any team sport has ever received at any Olympics. MSNBC will air 55 hours of Olympic sports seldom seen by American television audiences, such as cross-country skiing, biathlon and curling, as well as both men's and women's hockey games. A total of 21 curling matches will be aired on MSNBC. Neither NBC nor its cable cousins have quantified the number of hours devoted to those cloying "human interest" stories, but let's assume the time will be considerable.

Commentator Bob Costas will announce his fifth Olympic Games and his fourth as a primetime host. He is joined by longtime ABC sportscaster Jim McKay. McKay, working his 12th Olympics, is on loan from ABC, where he covered 12 Olympic Games.

NBC executive Dick Ebersol gushed about his announcing team. "We're thrilled with the team we're taking to Salt Lake. With Bob Costas as host and Jim McKay as special correspondent, we have the two people who have been most identified as the faces of the Olympics on American television since the beginning of the Olympics on television in 1960. We know they will choose the right words to describe what is sure to be a memorable Winter Games."

McKay's unforgettable Olympic moment occurred at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich. After Palestinian terrorists kidnapped members of the Israeli team on Sep. 5, 1972, McKay held his anchor position for more than 12 hours to cover a sports event that had become a tragic news story. Salt Lake City is McKay's first Olympic appearance since the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. He will join Costas and "Today" correspondent Katie Couric to anchor the Opening Ceremony.

 On tonight's "First Monday" (8 p.m., CBS), a reporter uncovers links between Novelli's uncle and organized crime. On tomorrow night's episode of the CBS drama "That's Life," Dolly's (Ellen Burstyn) election campaign is rocked by the revelation that her father was a felon arrested for armed robbery. Maybe "The Sopranos" isn't the only show to trade in negative Italian-American stereotypes.

Tonight's other highlights

 NBA stars Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing share the court with Bugs Bunny in the 1996 live-action animated feature "Space Jam" (7 p.m., UPN).

 Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) meets a young guy (Eddie Mills) in an ancient locale in the 1998 TV movie "Sabrina Goes to Rome" (7 p.m., WB, TV-PG).

 NHL legend Wayne Gretzky is profiled on a repeat "Biography" (7 p.m., A&E;, TV-G).

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