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Editor, The Konformist
Video Game Sheds NFL License, Gets Violent
By NATHANIEL HERNANDEZ, Associated Press Writer
Sun Dec 25, 2005
In a gritty new video game about a fictional football league,
players cripple their opponents, gamble and use performance-
"Blitz: The League" is able to feature the graphic violence and
adult themes not usually seen in sports video games because it was
produced without an NFL license and the restrictions that carries.
Developed by Chicago's Midway Games, "Blitz" is the first unlicensed
football title to hit store shelves since the NFL reach an exclusive
agreement a year ago with Electronic Arts Inc., makers of the
popular "Madden NFL" franchise. "Madden NFL" and the company's
edgier "NFL Street" series are both rated E for everyone.
"We decided that we wanted to make this a mature-rated game for
adults, and that opened up a whole lot of doors," said Mark Bilder,
executive producer for "Blitz."
Because the game is unlicensed, it can't feature markings of real
teams, NFL stadiums or images of NFL players. The star of this title
is New York Nightmare linebacker Quentin Sands, a fictional player
voiced by former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
Bilder said "Blitz," which was released in October and has sold
350,000 units, fictionalizes real behavior that the NFL tries to
downplay, such as off-the-field fights and wild parties. Its release
came around the same time authorities in Minnesota launched an
investigation after allegations surfaced of misconduct during a boat
party attended by several Minnesota Vikings players.
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper and three other players were charged
Dec. 15 with three misdemeanors each for taking part in a party some
"It's further reinforcement that these things do happen," Bilder
The NFL, though, says consumers are more interested in
an "authentic" experience in football video games than in fictional
"We want to be associated with partners that portray the NFL in the
best light and (with games) based in true reality," NFL spokesman
Brian McCarthy said.
McCarthy said the league is not overly concerned with the negative
portrayal of football players in "Blitz."
"Our fans are sophisticated enough to know that the overwhelming
majority of players are excellent people both on and off the field,"
Consumers bought 8 million football video games last year,
generating $300 million in sales, said Michael Pachter, an analyst
with Wedbush Morgan Securities. About 6 million units were copies
of "Madden NFL."
Electronic Arts' five-year deal with the NFL gives gamers who want
to pit the Colts against the Eagles only one place to go until 2009.
The company also has exclusive deals with NASCAR, FIFA, the NCAA and
the PGA Tour.
Pachter said most fans would probably rather play a football game
that features the Dallas Cowboys than the Dallas Aztecs in "Blitz."
"The reason we play football (games) is because of the
identification with the players," Pachter said. "The reason we
update is because we care that Randy Moss isn't with the Vikings
Previous versions of "Blitz" were developed with an NFL license and
featured over-the-top gameplay but no graphic violence or
questionable behavior off the field. Then, in 2003, Midway went to
the NFL with a proposal for a more untraditional approach.
"They wanted to move in a direction that we weren't comfortable with
for 2004. So, we mutually parted ways," McCarthy said. "That
direction was where they are evidently heading now."
Jordan Edelstein, a spokesman for Electronic Arts, said the company
does not consider "Blitz" a direct competitor.
"We kind of got our eye on a different ball," he said.
Chris Rock's Show Says Santa Doesn't Exist
Thursday December 22, 2005
Yes, Chris Rock, there is a Santa Claus. Parents with young children
who happened to watch "Everybody Hates Chris" in the past week had
some explaining to do when the character of Rock's brother suddenly
told his younger sister that Santa doesn't exist.
"Everybody knows there's no Santa Claus," Drew said to Tonya on the
UPN sitcom. "Come here, let me show you something. I'm taking you to
the toys ... Santa doesn't come down the chimney. We don't even have
a chimney. We have radiators."
Disillusioned, she stomps out of the room.
But wait. It gets worse.
Put on the spot, Tonya's dad Julius tells her the Easter bunny and
tooth fairy don't exist, either.
"Somebody better give me my teeth back," the girl fumes.
A blindsided UPN received "a handful" of complaints about the Santa
expose on its sitcom based loosely on comic Rock's life growing up
in Brooklyn, a spokeswoman said. This is a series whose use of the n-
word in its first episode passed with relatively little notice.
The Santa episode, titled "Everybody Hates Christmas," aired on Dec.
15 and was repeated on Monday.
"`Everybody Hates Chris' is a semi-autobiographical show," said Ali
LeRoi, its executive producer and co-creator. "We try to get humor
out of tough subject matters. It never occurred to me what a 6-year-
old would think about the subject of Santa."
Not, at least, until busted by his own 6-year-old son. LeRoi
admitted that his boy was upset when he saw the episode.
"My wife told him it was just a TV show and to ignore it," he
said. "It worked. He believes her. Kids trust their parents that
There's no word on whether Rock knew his show could be a holiday
spoiler. His spokesman didn't return telephone and e-mail messages
On the show, young Tonya becomes a lot more cynical. Her mother
explains that Santa Claus is a symbol and asks: "So you do
"Yeah," the girl replies. "It's OK to lie."
Chronic (What?!) Chles of Narnia rap
Jim Emerson / December 28, 2005
Parnell and Samberg on a movie date.
It's the biggest pop-cultural happening on "Saturday Night Live"
since Sinead O'Connor ripped up a picture of the pope: "Lazy Sunday"
(aka "The Chronic [What?!?!] Chles of Narnia Rap" video) has become
one of the most downloaded pieces on the Internet since... well,
since that trailer for "The Shining" from a few months back. Andy
Samberg and Chris Parnell make plans to get some cupcakes before
heading uptown for a matinee of "Narnia," sprinkling their rap with
other references to non-testosterone-driven movies like "The
Notebook" and "Ghost." (My favorite line: "I love those cupcakes
like McAdams loves Gosling!" I had to look it up even to know what
they were talking about, and I'm glad. I have too much other useless
celebrity crap in my head. Of course, now I have that, too, so
there's no reason to be glad anymore.)
The video -- already the funniest and most-quoted "SNL" piece since
the immortal "More Cowbell" sketch (how many more such "since"
comparisons can I make in this post? Just watch...) -- is a
collaboration between Parnell and "The Dudes," three LA-based
comedians (Samberg and childhood friends Jorma Taccone and Akiva
Schaffer), who, working together as "The Lonely Island," have made a
number of equally good homemade shorts (which can be seen at
www.thelonelyisland.com), that suggest they could be the next Bob
and David. (See, there I go again.) Jorm provided the beats, Kiv
directed, and they all wrote the "SNL Digital Short" together.
Fortunately, The Lonely Island did not have to break into three
smaller islands when Samberg landed a featured player role at "SNL"
in NY; the show soon, wisely, hired Schaffer and Taccone as writers.
I particularly like their "Just 2 Guyz" rap video (Parental Warning:
Links May Contain EXPLICIT Language And Probably Do); their Channel
101 Malibu-based parody series, "The 'Bu" (particularly Episode 1 in
3-D and Episode 8, which appears to be shot on the Universal
backlot -- look for familiar props from "Jaws" and "War of the
Worlds"); and "The Lonely Island" sitcom episode about the perils of
teeth-whitening addiction, "White Power."
But back to "The Chronic (What?!?!) Chles of Narnia" video (how do
you do that joke in print? -- you tell me): Another free association
(on the topic of cannabis references in children's entertainment)
reminds me of "The Altered State of Druggachusetts," the genius "Mr.
Show with Bob and David" sketch based on the hallucinogenic works of
puppetmeisters Sid and Marty Krofft ("H.R. Pufnstuf," "Liddsville" --
notice any marijuana references in those titles?). Anyway, it's on
the third season DVD, and if you haven't seen it you really should
because it is funny.
SNL's Narnia Rap: "Lazy Sunday"
19 Dec 2005 by Paul Martin
Contributing sources: YouTube.com
SNL's Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg created a music video for the
Chronicles of Narnia. It's a rap, based on a couple of friends going
to see the film. It's a very funny video, and really relatively
clean. There's one instance of cursing, but it's bleeped out. The
video is called "Lazy Sunday" and features both Chris Parnell and
Andy Samberg. Here's a quick transcription of the lyrics:
Wake up in the late afternoon
Call Parnell just to see how he's doin'
What up, Parn!
Yo Samberg, what's crackin'?
You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?
Man it's happ'nin'!
But first, my hunger pangs are stickin' like duct tape.
Let's hit up Magnolia and mack on some cupcakes.
No doubt, that bakery's got all the bomb frosting.
I love those cupcakes like McAdams loves Gosling.
Two! No, Six! No, Twelve! Baker's Dozen!
I told'ja that I'm crazy for these cupcakes, cousin!
Yo, where's the movie playin'?
Upper West Side, dude!
Let's hit up Yahoo Maps to find the dopest route.
I prefer Mapquest!
That's a good one too.
Google Maps is the best!
True that! Double true!
68th and Broadway.
Step on it, sucka!
What you wanna do Chris?
snack attack, mutha----!
The Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Yes, the Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
We love that Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Pass that Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Yo, stop at the deli.
The theatre is overpriced!
You got that backpack
I'm going to pack it up nice.
We don't want security to get suspicious!
Mr. Pibbs and Red Vines equals crazy delicious.
Reach in my pocket and pull out some dough,
Girl acted like she never seen a $10 before!
It's all about the Hamiltons baby
Throw the snacks in a bag and I'm Ghost like Swayze.
Roll up to the theate
Ticket buying what we're handling,
You can call us Aaron Burr from the way we're dropping Hamiltons
Parked in our seats movie trivia's the illest!
"What Friends alum starred in films with Bruce Willis?"
We had the dope facts, it was scary:
Everyone stared in awe when we screamed Matthew Perry!
Then quiet in the theatre or it's gonna get tragic
We're about to be taken to a dream world of magic
In the Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Yes, the Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
We love that Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Pass that Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Republicans to Poor "Freeze to Death"
Republicans in Congress cut home heating assistance funding to poor
Americans by around $200 million. Democrats were seeking $5 billion.
Republicans approved $2 billion.
Home heating costs are up around 40 percent to 70 percent over last
year depending on the type of heating used.
Oil companies have huge excess profits that could be taxed to fund
the program. Republicans in Congress have effectively blocked any
attempt to tax these excess oil industry profits to help poor
Americans from freezing to death.
Poor citizens do not give huge campaign contributions to Republican
politicians like oil industry executives and oil industry political
action committees. The poor tend to vote more Democratic than
Republican over economic issues. Freezing to death voters who might
support opposing political parties might be good politics but is
both un-American and un-Christian. The Republicans in Congress
should be kinder to their less fortunate American citizens and try
to follow the Christian admonishment to help the poor.
These same Republican politicians are supporting cuts in food
assistance and health care programs for poor Americans. The results
will eventually be the same for some fellow American citizens. They
will die earlier and have more unhealthy lives. Is this what America
should be doing this Christmas?
The Republican "War on the Poor" approach to government is
disgusting when contrasted with their strong push for tax cuts for
the very wealthiest of the wealthy. They find huge amounts of money
to fund tax breaks for giant corporations and no-bid contracts
awarded to politically connected companies.
The Republican Party has been relying on Christian voters to stay in
power while not following core Christian teaching about the
treatment of the poor. It is Christmas but the Republicans in
Congress seemed not to have read the Biblical tale of the Virgin
Mary told in Luke 1:56. Here are some important passages:
"1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for,
behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
1:49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is
1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to
1:51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the
proud in the imagination of their hearts.
1:52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them
of low degree.
1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he
hath sent empty away.
Republican efforts to cut the huge budget deficits created by their
tax policies, the unjustified Iraq War and the growing national
security state created after 9-11 should not be at the cost of the
lives or health of poor Americans. All citizens should contact their
representative in Congress and demand help for the poor from our
federal government this Christmas. We should ask ourselves "what
would Jesus do." This Christian believes that Christ would help
feed, cloth and keep warm the poor.
Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio
http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com ). Mail: P.O. Box 283,
Earleville, Maryland 21919. Email: midsouthcm@... . Phone: 443-
Feel free to publish at no charge without prior permission.
Clock runs out on ABC's 'Monday Night Football'
By HAL BOCK, AP Sports Writer
December 25, 2005
From its inception, ABC's "Monday Night Football" was a risky
experiment that defied American sports tradition. From Howard
Cosell's pontification to Don Meredith's down-home songs to Dennis
Miller's arcane analogies, it dominated TV viewing in homes and bars
across the nation.
The broadcast was a hodgepodge of personalities and indelible
images, defining moments and follies, eye-popping on-the-field
performances and the kind of impromptu silliness that only sheer
boredom can create.
In short, it was exactly what ABC Sports boss Roone Arledge hoped it
It was theater.
Television sports reaches the end of one era and the beginning of
another Monday night when ABC signs off on its prime-time weeknight
coverage of the NFL for the final time and hands off to sister
The 555th Monday night game on the network is itself of little
consequence: The dismal New York Jets play the New England Patriots,
who already are playoff bound but have no chance to improve their
The series switches networks next season, when ESPN begins paying
$1.1 billion per year for Monday night rights in an eight-year deal.
"'Monday Night Football' is the premier property in sports
television," ESPN president George Bodenheimer said. "All the
players get up for it. All the teams watch. It's a national
showcase. To be able to transition it to ESPN is an honor."
There was no ESPN when ABC began its MNF run on Sept. 21, 1970, with
the Jets playing at Cleveland. It was the beginning of 36 seasons of
one of television's most valuable franchises, a compelling three
hours that became the longest running prime-time sports series in TV
Municipal Stadium was jammed with 85,703 fans that first night as
ABC began a broadcasting odyssey with Keith Jackson doing play-by-
play and ex-quarterback Meredith sharing analysis and wisecracks
with Cosell. The three-man booth was new territory for sports
television. But then, so was this whole MNF adventure, the invention
of NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and Arledge.
It was a bold step because, for the longest time, football in
America fit neatly into a three-day weekend. Friday night was
reserved for high school games. Saturday belonged to college
football. The NFL played on Sunday.
Rozelle wasn't about to lock the NFL into that pattern. The league
had experimented with occasional weeknight games and the
commissioner thought it was a perfect place to grow his product.
Similarly, Arledge believed sports was the perfect product for
Rozelle needed a network partner and Arledge needed a foot in the
NFL door. With CBS and NBC locked into NFL games on Sundays, ABC was
the perfect fit for MNF. But it took some persuading.
Rozelle's trump card was syndication on the Hughes Sports Network.
On and off for two years, Rozelle and Arledge would meet for lunch,
usually at Manhattan's posh 21 Club, haggling over details. Arledge
felt he was always on the defensive, especially when Rozelle
"I had about as much clout as the Dalai Lama has dealing with the
Chinese army," he once said. "You know where the power was."
Arledge persuaded reluctant ABC higher-ups to sign off on the deal,
but then Rozelle almost pulled the rug out from under him.
"He said, 'Of course, you understand we have to offer it to CBS and
NBC first because of existing contracts,"' Arledge said. "I was
about to slit my throat."
The other two networks passed and the deal went to ABC for $8.5
million a year, a rights fee that ballooned over the life of the
partnership to $550 million a year, half of what ESPN will pay.
It was the start of something very big.
Arledge's plan was to use the up-close and personal approach he had
applied to ABC's coverage of the Olympics. There would be nine
cameras instead of the usual four or five. Producer Dennis Lewin was
there at the start and later moved to the NFL as head of
"We approached every game as if it was the Super Bowl," Lewin said.
The selection of the announcing team was vital. The plan was to have
ex-NFL star Frank Gifford in the booth, but Gifford had a year
remaining on a contract at CBS and he recommended his pal, Meredith.
Arledge added the bombastic, often abrasive Cosell for analysis,
with Jackson doing play-by-play.
The interplay between the urbane Cosell and Meredith the country boy
made the broadcasts tingle with electricity. Cosell took to calling
Meredith "Dandy Don," and the quarterback would serenade blowout
games by singing, "Turn out the lights, the party's over."
Once, when the cameras zeroed in on stony-faced Minnesota coach Bud
Grant, Meredith changed his tune, singing, "You are my sunshine, my
only sunshine ..."
The first game included an electrifying 94-yard return of the second-
half kickoff by Cleveland's Homer Jones, played and replayed by
ABC's army of cameras, and a dramatic portrait of Jets quarterback
Joe Namath, shoulders slouched at game's end after an interception
that sealed the victory for the Browns.
It was must-see TV and the country responded. The first-year rating
was 18.5 with a 31 percent share of the viewing audience. When
Gifford replaced Jackson to do play-by-play the next year, the
rating went up to 20.8.
Rozelle and Arledge had a hit on their hands.
Much of the success had to do with Cosell. His nasal, New York tones
delivered a know-it-all message that often infuriated audiences.
"Howard made people listen," Lewin said. "He made people think and
he made people watch. You didn't always agree with Howard, but he
was never afraid to say what he thought."
Then there was Arledge's unique production.
"Roone felt it was important to personalize the athlete, to
transport the viewer from the couch to every part of the stadium,"
Gifford said. "Roone Arledge turned a football game into live
Gifford functioned as a traffic cop, an x's and o's football
fundamentalist, while Cosell and Meredith provided comic relief. It
worked famously, benefited by some terrific games and occasionally
interrupted by some dramatic news. It fell to Cosell on Dec. 8,
1980, to announce, in the middle of the broadcast, that Beatle John
Lennon had been shot and killed.
Some of the more memorable Monday night moments include:
-- Tony Dorsett setting a record with a 99-yard run from scrimmage
for Dallas against Minnesota on Jan. 3, 1983.
-- Green Bay defeating Washington 48-47 on Oct. 17, 1983, as the
teams combined for 1,025 yards of total offense in the highest-
scoring MNF game, a contest not decided until Mark Moseley missed a
potential game-winning 39-yard field goal with 3 seconds to play.
-- Miami ending Chicago's shot at an undefeated season, beating the
Bears 38-24 on Dec. 2, 1985, as alumni from the Dolphins' undefeated
1972 team cheered for their record to be protected. The game set an
MNF record with a 29.6 rating and 46 share.
-- Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway and Joe Montana facing off
in a dramatic duel won by Montana, who threw a TD pass with 8
seconds remaining to give Kansas City a 31-28 victory over Denver on
Oct. 17, 1994.
-- The Jets roaring from behind in the fourth quarter, scoring on
four straight possessions to wipe out a 30-7 Miami lead and then
again with 42 seconds left in regulation before winning in overtime
40-37 on a 40-yard field goal by John Hall on Oct. 23, 2000.
-- Brett Favre throwing for 399 yards and four touchdowns in Green
Bay's 41-7 victory over Oakland on Dec. 22, 2003, one day after the
sudden death of his father.
Over the years, the package changed. Meredith fled Cosell's
overbearing presence, joining NBC in 1974 before returning three
years later. Arledge moved to head ABC's news division in 1977.
Cosell departed in 1983 but not before taking a parting shot at the
NFL, calling it boring.
MNF always battled boring. ABC dressed its announcers in outrageous
canary yellow blazers for a while. When ratings began to dip, the
network tried different starting times and different broadcasters,
even hiring comedian Miller for two seasons. Some ex-players-turned-
announcers stayed longer than others. Fred Williamson never made it
out of the preseason in 1974. Gifford stuck around for 28 years.
There was a tawdry cross promotion involving Philadelphia wide
receiver Terrell Owens for ABC's "Desperate Housewives" series last
year that raised some eyebrows. The signature opening recently has
had country star Hank Williams Jr. singing, "Are you ready for some
Al Michaels took over play-by-play duties in 1986 and will follow
the series to ESPN next season, joined by ex-quarterback Joe
Theismann, who provided one of the more dramatic MNF moments in 1985
when his leg was broken on a sack by Lawrence Taylor.
Bodenheimer said ESPN will try to turn MNF into the kind of defining
event the program was in its early years.
"ESPN plans to create an immersive experience for the fans," he
said. "It will be a happening in each MNF city. We look to take the
best that ABC has done in 36 years and create a new era on ESPN."