By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
February 24, 2012
The days leading up to Sunday, February 26 are a confluence of sports and entertainment events like no other. This week, we’ll take a look at the remaining events on our DVR list for Sunday – the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, and the 84th annual Academy Awards on ABC Sunday night.
This year, lines between the two might be a bit blurred – “Forget the tux; Billy Crystal will host the [Academy Awards] show in a Lin jersey,” says the Washington Post’s Tracee Hamilton, commenting on the popularity of Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. (Despite that Crystal is a diehard LA Clippers fan.)
61st NBA All-Star Game, Orlando FL
Returning to Orlando for the first time since 1992, the 2012 NBA All- Star Game is shaping up to be one of the hottest tickets in the event’s history. The game, carried by TNT, is scheduled for Sunday at the one-year-old Amway Center in Orlando, and is estimated to reach fans in over 200 countries and territories in 40+ languages. Tickets are not available to the public, causing the secondary market to set exorbitant prices.
The Orlando Sentinel recently reported that 3,000 tickets were sold in a lottery to Orlando Magic season ticket holders, with face value tickets priced at $750 for lower bowl seats and $500 for upper bowl seats. Recent listings on Stubhub show the cheapest tickets priced at well over $500.
NBA partners love All-Star Weekend for the number of events they can sponsor. On the docket during NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm are the Haier Shooting Stars, Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout, and Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Right Guard® is the associate partner of the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. And in addition to serving as that event’s title partner, Sprint will also be the title partner of the NBA All-Star Pregame Concert, held prior to the NBA All-Star Game, an associate partner of NBA All-Star Jam Session, and the presenting partner of the NBA All-Star E-Recycling event, an electronic waste collection and recycling event.
Orlando projects more than $100 million in economic impact from All-Star festivities. Had the NBA lockout forced the weekend to be cancelled, the effect would have been devastating for the local economy.
While Jeremy Lin’s rise to superstardom occurred after All-Star balloting had closed, the NBA found a way to get him in the door. Last week, Lin was added to the roster for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, featuring rookies and second year players, despite NBA Commissioner David Stern’s insistence earlier in the week that Lin “would not participate in the event.” Rather than face an angry mob of Lin fans stretching from New York to Shanghai, the league allowed TNT commentator Kenny Smith, who serves as “commissioner” of the Challenge,” to add Lin to the pool of candidates for the event. Smith’s colleague Shaquille O’Neal, one of the honorary coaches, promptly snatched Lin up for his team. (TNT deskmate Charles Barkley is coaching the other Rising Stars squad.)
84th Annual Academy Awards
While the annual Academy Awards broadcast is often referred to as “the Super Bowl for women,” due to the strong female viewership and advertisers focusing on this demographic, the 2012 program on ABC may well see an uptick in male sports fans tuning in to observe the fates of two sports-centric nominees.
Based on Michael Lewis’ 2003 bestseller, Columbia Pictures’ “Moneyball” was nominated for six Academy Awards, including being one of nine nominees for Best Picture. Lead actor Brad Pitt was nominated for Best Actor for his depiction of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, while Jonah Hill was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of “Peter Brand” (the onscreen pseudonym for Paul DePodesta). The film was also nominated for Film Editing and Sound Mixing. Said Pitt of the nominations, “It’s a great honor and a real tribute to Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s organization.”
Also nominated for an Academy Award is “Undefeated,” a gripping documentary that follows the Memphis, TN Manassas High football team in its 2009 quest to win a playoff game for the first time since the school’s founding in 1899.
Another actor for sports fans to watch is Rooney Mara up for Best Actress for her role in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Mara is the daughter of Super Bowl champion New York Giants vice president Chris Mara, the granddaughter of late Giants owner Wellington Mara, and the great-granddaughter of Pittsburgh Steelers Founder Art Rooney.
While Disney President and CEO Bob Iger announced earlier this month that the company had sold out of its available commercial advertising time, ratings are always an issue. Last year’s Academy Awards broadcast fell to 37.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen, down nine percent from 2010. Nonetheless, according to ABC, such companies as American Express, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, JCPenney, Kraft, McDonalds, MetLife, Paramount Pictures, Samsung, Sprint, Stella Artois, Travelocity, and ABC’s Walt Disney Studios will be among the advertisers.