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Archive for September, 2011

Did Larry Merchant Go Too Far or Did Floyd Mayweather Jr. Lose It?

Larry Merchant has been a staple in professional boxing for years.  This HBO commentator and sports writer is often referred to as the “greatest boxing analyst of all time.”  His credentials notwithstanding, Merchant has actually clashed with a number of fighters in the past, including greats like Mike Tyson and Oscar de la Hoya. 

Oscar de la Hoya actually tried to have Merchant removed from HBO after the sports journalist said that Mariachi music, of which he is normally a fan, “stunk” since it was being used as de la Hoya’s ring entrance music.  Merchant issued an apology on air shortly after the incident.

Now comes an even bigger incident concerning Merchant and Floyd Mayweather Jr.  Mayweather had just defeated Victor Ortiz in a controversial finish, one involving a miscommunication with the referee that led to Ortiz taking a fall.  Merchant, as is customary, questioned Mayweather about his victory, to which the athlete retorted, “You never give me a fair shake…They can put somebody else up here to give me an interview.  HBO need to fire you.  You don’t know sh** about boxing…”

Mayweather more than implied that Merchant has no idea what it’s like to be a fighter, a point to which Merchant bravely contested, “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your a**!”  Why all this trash talking in boxing?  Mayweather and Merchant going at it in the pressroom was actually more exciting than the majority of boxing interviews, which mostly feature restrained comments of mutual respect.  In any event, Merchant’s conduct (admittedly nothing new) prompted Mayweather to demand the commentator’s firing from HBO.

While plenty of people mirror Mayweather’s feelings that “Everybody is tired of Larry Merchant”, the fact is that Merchant is well known for his hard-hitting, concise and very often aggressive interviewing style.  This is what the sport wants–or at least what it used to want in the 1980s and 1990s, when Merchant made a name for himself.  Yes, Merchant divides fans for sure.  The question is, has boxing outgrown Larry Merchant or is Mayweather taking criticism like a big boxing baby?

What do you think?


Live a Childhood Dream and Visit the Price is Right in Las Vegas!

Didn’t you used to dream of entering the television set and playing The Price is Right as a youth?  At first, you watched the game show because there was nothing else on, but eventually you came to love Bob Barker’s avuncular way with words, not to mention the contagious joy you had whenever Rod Roddy added, “or…a new car!”

Everyone wanted that new car, even though they respectfully smiled at the cabinets and dining sets.  They wanted that new car so much they were willing to play all sorts of absurd and sometimes confusing games such as The Big Wheel, Plinko, Hole in One and “The Showcase.”  Well, expecting Bob Barker or even Drew Carey to point out your “new car” is a bit of wishful thinking.  However, you can relive the authentic The Price is Right experience by coming to Las Vegas’ own Bally’s! 

The popular game show you know and love is located here and anyone can play.  Hold on though, you’re not just playing for nostalgia.  You’re also playing for cash and prizes, just like you would expect!  This is a live show and the atmosphere feels like that of the original, with the audience, the sound effects, the stage settings (taken from the actual 35th anniversary season) and of course, the gorgeous game show models. 

The Price Is Right Live game show selects contestants randomly just like producers do it on TV.  Over 50 audience members will have a chance to play.  And in case you’re wondering, yes, you do get the “come on down!” whenever your name is called.  Last but not least, the host even reminds the audience to spay and neuter their pets–why it’s as if Bob Barker’s spirit is overseeing the event!  Of course, Bob Barker is still alive and well, but you get the point.  The real Bob Barker is far too busy fighting for animal rights to show up everywhere that prizes are given away!

You can find Bally’s Showroom on South Las Vegas Boulevard, but don’t forget to buy your tickets in advance!  These shows are a lot of fun and will feel just like a childhood fantasy!


Amy Winehouse Duet with Tony Bennett to be released

Fans were hoping that they’d get one last taste of Amy Winehouse’s music with an album released posthumously, but now they’ll get one better – a new song and a new video recorded by Amy and Tony Bennett will be aired for the first time on MTV tomorrow.

The video, which features Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett singing a beautiful duet of “Body and Soul,” one of Bennett’s biggest hits, was originally made for a documentary of Bennett’s. But with such a tragic turn of events before its release, all proceeds from the song and the video will now be donated to the Amy Winehouse Foundation. The song will also appear, as was originally planned, on Tony Bennett’s newest album, Duets II, to be released soon.

The recording and release of the song is meaningful in many ways. The day of its release would be Amy’s 28th birthday. “Body and Soul” is also the favorite song of Mitch Winehouse, Amy’s father. And in an interview where she talked about the recording, Amy spoke of how it was a song she grew up on.

The song and the video will first be aired at 6:00 am on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 on MTV, VH1, MTV Hits, and mtvU. After its first airing it will then be played on all stations every hour for the entire morning. Previews of the video show Amy looking happy and healthy as she twirls her hair and sings in perfect harmony with Tony Bennett.

The song was recorded on March 23 at Abbey Road Studios, four months to the day before Amy died from unknown causes in her London apartment.


Beauty and the Beast Live – Relive the Best of Menken and Ashman

Kids love Beauty and the Beast for the lovable characters and the wonderful artwork. However, many parents and young adults love the film for its music. The collaboration of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman gave us some of the most beloved movie songs of the 1990s, including “Beauty and the Beast” (performed by Angela Lansbury), “Belle” and “Be Our Guest.” The latter is a song so ingrained in public consciousness (and so often used in commercials) that many people swear it’s been around for ages. No, it’s definitely a new age “classic”, as Beauty and the Beast was released in 1991.

The popularity of the movie’s music explains why Disney and film producers were so interested in adapting the musical to the stage where great music, singing and dancing are truly the number one attraction. The film itself is unique because many of the songs performed actually describe action happening, in opera style. “Belle” is a notable example of this. Therefore, seeing Beauty and the Beast on stage is a musical lover’s treat–not to mention a child’s dream.

The classics of Menken and Ashman are back, though some lyrics were actually written by Tim Rice after Ashman’s death. You can definitely hear the difference and appreciate how much the two creative fellows complemented each other. Menken has gone on to score many other great compositions (most recently Tangled), but no songs to this day have the beastly power or dreaming beauty of this pioneering Best Picture nominee.

It should delight you to know that when you see Beauty and the Beast in the theater, you also get to hear seven additional songs besides the original soundtrack. The most popular new songs include “No Matter What”, sung by characters Maurice and Belle, “How Long Must This Go On?” by the Beast, and “Human Again” sung by Lumiere and castle company. (This song was actually cut from the original film!)

This production was nominated for multiple Tony Awards in 1998 and actually won an award for Costume Design. It didn’t quite beat “Passion” for the grand prize but still cemented Disney’s place in the Broadway scene. Come experience this new age classic live and on the front row!


The Latest News on the NBA Lockout – Jordan Inserts Foot in Mouth

Just a few months removed from a great championship game that saw the Dallas Mavericks make history, we are facing the very real possibility of an NBA lockout. You might think that such a time would require great restraint, and exceptional prudence, as no one wants to raise a ruckus and inadvertently cost us an NBA season next year. For the most part, players have been keeping their mouths, even though they continue to remind their bosses that they have options in Europe.

Then there’s Michael Jordan. Maybe he’s so used to being the big elephant in the room that he’s become accustomed to telling it like it is, but the NBA wasn’t amused at some of the comments he made to the press. Jordan told The Herald Sun that he believed revenue sharing was necessary and also dropped a player’s name; Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut. The NBA has currently banned public mention of the lockout as well as mentioning players by name.

The NBA meant business and fined Jordan, the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, $100,000. Jordan’s ideas are not necessarily ill-advised; after all, the revenue-sharing plan already has precedent in the NFL and the MLB. Nevertheless, the NBA side of the lockout claims that the sport actually lost $300 million last season and that losing more money due to profit sharing is not feasible.

Breaking the golden rule was Jordan’s mistake, and can only be interpreted as zesty rebellion or startling ignorance, since the league made this rule clear as early as July 1, 2011. Nevertheless, it’s understandable why this could happen, since players and owners are being stressed out over the ramifications of a no-show season.

We’re glad to know that the NBA players are still taking the sport seriously and keeping in practice. In fact, Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns and 70 or so other players are meeting in Las Vegas in the month of September to work with the Impact Competitive Basketball League. This is a smart strategy, as it is definitely possible that the two sides could come to an agreement. And if and when that happens, the players don’t want to be lacking–not if they succeeded in getting the raises they requested. Time will tell what happens with the lockout, but it’s good to know that our favorites are just itching to play!


Lady Gaga Announces She’ll Play In NYC On New Year’s Eve

It’s hard to imagine that there’s anything Lady Gaga hasn’t done, but playing Times Square in New York City on New Year’s Eve is one of them. This year though, she’ll be able to scratch that off her bucket list, as she’s just announced she’ll be playing there this year to help fans ring in the New Year!

Gaga is one of what’s sure to be many performers attending this year’s 40th anniversary edition of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2012. And while she’s sure to wear, bring, or be someone surprising at this year’s event, she’s also already made news as one of the performers. While the show is generally filled with A-list celebrities and the current top musical acts, Gaga isn’t just performing in the show; she’s doing an entire show of her own before the actual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show begins. That show will be two hours long, and it will be the first time that fans have been able to show up at the Square so early, and get this type of entertainment while they wait for the annual show to start at 11:00 P.M.

Ryan Seacrest was the first to announce the news about Lady Gaga tickets yesterday on his radio show. As the holiday draws closer, we hope to get even more announcements about who will be at this year’s show.


After Horrific KHL Plane Crash, What Happens Now?

It was yesterday morning when not only the hockey world but people across the globe, were stopped in their tracks after hearing the tragic news of a private jet crashing into the Volga River in Russia. The plane was carrying the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team, a professional hockey team in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. Of the 45 people aboard the plane, only two people survived — one was a crew member and the other was Alexander Galimov, a player for the Lokomotivs. Both are in the hospital and listed as being in “very grave” condition. So now that the world has absorbed the shock and tragedy, what happens now?

The KHL is now on a five-day hiatus to try and recoup from the loss and to pay respect to the players that lost their lives and their families. The league will resume play on September 13. But what will happen to the Lokomotivs now that the entire team, save one, is gone?

The first speculations to come after the tragedy are that the league is considering holding a draft. Within that draft, one or two players from every team would be selected to form a new Lokomotivs team and to play under that name for the remainder of the season. In addition to that, 30 — 40 players from the KHL have already volunteered to wear the Lokomotivs jersey and to play for that team this year. And if they’re taken up on those offers, a draft may not even be necessary, as that would be more than enough players.

The Russian Ice Hockey Federation President, Vladislav Tretiak, made it clear in a statement yesterday that the team, and the memory of those players would never die, by saying, “We will do our best to ensure that hockey in Yaroslavl does not die, and that it continues to live for the people that were on that plane.”


Sting Vs. Ric Flair for the Umpteenth and Maybe Last Time

One of the greatest professional wrestling matches of the 1980s was the experienced and primetime Ric Flair vs. the green but talented upstart Sting.  The year was 1988 and the event was the first Clash of the Champions.  This was back in the heyday of pro wrestling, before the fast-paced Monday night segments were the norm.  Sting wrestled Flair for 45 minutes, and the match culminated in a time limit draw.

Sting and Flair had dozens of rematches after Flair left the WWF (now officially the WWE) to return to his home WCW organization, and most of these matches saw Sting triumphing over the legendary “Nature Boy.”  Well, just when you thought you would never see these two titans tumble again (and indeed, just when you thought the 62-year-old Flair was “really” retired once and for all) these dueling banjos are set to go at it one more time. 

Ric Flair is scheduled to take on Sting at the TNA Wrestling Impact show airing September 15th.  (TNA wrestling tickets are still available!)  Anyone who has followed Ric Flair for any period of time knows wrestling is his life, and that even when he “retires” he’s not likely to stay quiet for too long.  Sting, on the other hand, is a come-and-go phantom and perhaps WCW’s last true warrior.  (He is one of the few athletes to have never signed with the WWE.)

Fans of old school wrestling, as opposed to the sugar-charged WWE product, will appreciate one more Sting and Flair match, even as both men shake off ring rust and veteran pains.  Both men are currently working with TNA Wrestling and thus the perfect opportunity to settle old scores presented itself.  These warriors will renew and perhaps finish their feud come September, a feud that has lasted since 1988 and down into the 1990s where Ric Flair harassed Sting as the masked “Black Scorpion” character. 

TNA, of course, wants to keep things interesting so they are attaching stipulations.  If Ric Flair wins, Sting retires.  If Sting wins, he gets a shot against Hulk Hogan.  We’re not even second-guessing who’s going to win…we’re just wondering if Flair still has the power and durability to do his infamous upside down turnbuckle flip!  Come see TNA Wrestling live and relive the magic!


Kobe Bryant Isn’t Welcome Just Anywhere

He might be the biggest name in the NBA. And he’s definitely on the list of the most important players the league. But that doesn’t mean that Kobe Bryant is untouchable, or that he can just play ball wherever he chooses. At least, not according to Brandon Jennings, who hails from Compton and is currently the point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s not happy that Bryant is currently playing in the Drew League alongside Jennings and Jennings says, he’s not from LA so, he just doesn’t belong there.

The Drew League is a special league made up of LA players who were born and raised in the area. And, after finding himself with some free time during the lockout, Bryant looked to the league as a way to continue playing ball until a deal in his own league was worked out. But this willy-nilly attitude about joining the league doesn’t sit with Jennings because Bryant isn’t from LA, and so it goes directly against what the league stands for.

But, Jennings may want to think twice about kicking one of the world’s greatest players out of the league. Many feel that even if Bryant isn’t from LA, he should be given a pass on this one, and maybe even a ‘thank you.’ It’s thought that with Bryant’s phenomenal reputation and global stature, the publicity he will bring to the league will do it far more benefit than any harm would ever be incurred from allowing a non-local to join.

But Jennings doesn’t see it that way, even going so far as to demand to see a birth certificate, an outcry that the public is getting a little tired of hearing. Likely, the entire thing will be dropped and if Jennings pushes it, it could be bad news for Drew and attract the wrong kind of attention to the league. Even though Jennings has a legitimate argument in the fact that the Drew League is a pure representation of LA basketball, most people will just see banning certain players as an exclusion. And that doesn’t usually bode well for those doing the excluding, especially when it’s Kobe you’re talking about shunning.