Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016



by Steven Travers
American Reporter Correspondent
San Francisco, Calif.
March 15, 2001
LEIGH STEINBERG HAS A TAKE...ON EVERYTHING

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Editor's Note: Steven Travers has worked with superagent Leigh Steinberg to help develop the Sports Movie Channel. Recently, Travers and Steinberg talked about sports, Hollywood, the Internet, and how the 21st Century will be connected by all of them.

AR: We have spoken about a cable tv station called the Sports Movie Channel. Is this the kind of thing that you envision as being part of your merger with Assante.

LS: Assante shares my dream and vision of building a high-quality sports and entertainment net system that delivers a massive network of 24-hour sports related programming to 150 stations, 24 hours per day. The cable stations will need content, and athletics is a natural source of that content.

AR: Time Warner and A.O.L. are now merged. What is your take on this?

LS: The Internet will need content, too--Web sites, video, video games; sports shall provide an endless supply of ancillary revenue. I see sports and entertainment merging, the two fields coming together in a natural progression.

AR: What does Assante bring to the table?

LS: Through Assante we are purchasing Eugene Parker's football agency, and combining agency franchises in hockey, wrestling, tennis andgolf -- we are creating a real multi-sport agency. Each one shall be autonomous, worki= ng as a municipality feeding a massive marketing arm of player endorsements, corporate sponsorships, leagues, teams, new stadia, and each will have special expertise in their field.

AR: You have experience at building stadiums and saving franchises. Have you ever thought about being on the other end of the negotiating table, as an owner?

LS: I've worked with sports teams and municipalities, trying to draw financing and referendums for stadium projects, referendums, p.s.l.'s and naming rights. We were successful in San Francisco, keeping the Giants at Candlestick until the new stadium could be built. We failed in L.A.when the Rams left. For me, there is more freedom working with different athletes, continuing to require that they maintain their civic responsibilities and focus on charitable organizations. I insist that athletes be role models, and that they re-trace their roots to the prep and college levels. An athlete can stand up and say, "Real men don't hit women," or "don't abuse children" and that can have a big impact. I can accomplish more doing what I do now than being tied to any one place as an owner.

AR: Do you see yourself, in your new role after the Assante merger, becoming actively involved with Hollywood from the developmentside as a producer, and if so, will you specialize in sports contentalone?

LS: Ye= s, eventually I want to be active in all aspects of the filmindustry, not j= ust as a "sports specialty," that's part of our mission.For now we are con= centrating on sports-related themes. Of course, thereare a lot of movies," like "Air Bud", in which the sports theme is just acoincidence, so it will all evolve.

AR: Speaking of sports films, was "Jerry Maguire" supposed to beabo= ut you from the beginning?

LS: Cameron Crowe, who directed "Singles" and wrote "Fast Times AtR= idgemont High", approached me in 1993 and asked if he could explore theworl= d of pro sports. He ended up tagging along to a series of events,including the N.F.L. draft when Drew Bledsoe went number one. To behonest, when I fi= rst got married, it was hard on us because of all thetraveling and commitme= nts.

We were in Palm Desert, and I took Tim McDonald to show him off tot= he owners. We were in a room, and the news program "Money Line" was ontelev= ision when Cameron asked him what he was in it for. McDonald pointedto the t.v. and said, "It's the money." Thus was born the phrase "Show methe money= ." I've had extensive experience working with actors. CubaGooding went to= the Super Bowl with us, and his character is based onMcDonald. He even pre= tended to be my client. I worked with JerryO'Connell, who played the young quarterback in the film.

I also worked with Oliver Stone on "Any Given Sunday." He's verytal= ented but not a very nice man. I worked with Al Pacino on his veterancoach character, and spent part of an afternoon with Cameron Diaz on therole of a= woman in a male-dominated world. I worked on "For the Love ofthe Game" -- my partner, Jeff Moorad and I were technical consultants andwe went back to= Yankee Stadium for that.

The company Jerry first worked for was supposed to be I.M.G. Theyde= scended on my office and used my wardrobe, and the view outside is theview from my office in Newport Beach. It's a photo, on a set.

AR: What are your memories of a dormitory at the University ofCalif= ornia?

LS: I was a dorm counselor and Boalt Hall law student, when SteveBa= rtkowski was selected number one in the 1975 draft. I was brimming withlega= l experience not having tried a case. Those were wild days in sportsreprese= ntation, with agents buying players off college campuses. Ownershad the opt= ion of just not dealing with agents if they didn't want to.

AR: Well, only nine years before that, Jim Ringoap= proached Vince Lombardi with an agent. Lombardi excused himself, made aphon= e call, re-emerged and told them, "Mr. Ringo has been traded to thePhiladel= phia Eagles." Still, there had been a period of bidding wars inwhich player= s made huge bonuses. Let's face it, when Pete Rozelle beganthe draft, isn't= that another way of saying he colluded with the owners tohold down prices?

LS: That's exactly what he did, by creating the draft and mergingth= e leagues.

AR: Okay, I'll just say it straight. Rozelle and the ownerscolluded= on the prices.

LS: Right. Joe Namath had made $400,000. O.J. Simpson got $350,000b= efore the merger. The draft is completely unconstitutional.

AR: If S= teve Bartkowski had never come along to change your life,what would Leigh S= teinberg be doing today?

LS: I'd either be a political activist, trying to save theenvironme= nt, maybe a U.S. Senator. Or I might have been involved in someaspect of th= e entertainment business, working in Hollywood. I had a chanceto be a tv ne= wsperson. I definitely wouldn't be a sports agent.

Screenwriter/sports= writer Steven Travers is a former pro baseballplayer, and a product of the U.S.C. Film School and UCLA Writers'Program.

Copyright 2016 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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