By Tom Hoffarth
Daily News, Los Angeles.
Man, oh, man, does anyone know why there hasn’t been a sports show on TV dedicated to women in the know?
No need to go past Tuesday’s launch of a new CBS Sports Net show called “We Need To Talk.”
And don’t ask why it took so long. Amy Trask, the former Raiders CEO and a member of the CBSSN NFL pregame show, has a better response:
“Irresponsive if it should have been done in the past, it’s being done now and that’s exhilarating, and I could not be less surprised that it is happening in the CBS family,” Trask said Thursday morning.
(Those blushing at ESPN have to be envious. All those channels in the corporate roster, and none could have had the nerve to pull this off? Watch it and weep).
The concept involves a weekly discussion panel that starts with a dozen well-known females in the sports-media business — starting with Lesley Visser, Andrea Kremer and Trask — then pulling four or five of them out to go at it, on whatever is in the news and beyond.
The pool of on-air talent includes former WNBA Sparks star Lisa Leslie, Southern California-raised Olympic swimmer Dara Torres and former pro tennis player and first VP of the USTA Katrina Adams.
Emmy Award-winning coordinating producers Emilie Deutsche and Suzanne Smith, the only women in the business producing or directing NFL games these days, are the show’s behind-the-camera leaders, with Amy Salmanson and Julie Keryc producing.
Comparing it with ABC’s “The View” or CBS’ “The Talk” is almost a bit condescending to what is trying to be accomplished here.
“This is nothing less than a cultural pivot point,” is how Visser frames it.
The hourlong shows are taped live to air at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and there is no shortage of subjects, especially these days with the obvious NFL domestic violence and child-rearing issues.
“I don’t believe any one group of women have the same point of views on a topic that warrants discussion any more than all men have the same view on topics that warrant discussion,” Trask said. “I would assume, and hope, that if five women are talking about a topic, we will have five different views and opinions. That goes to the nature of the topics. We all assess sports and its role in society slightly differently than one another.”
Visser says the show has been in the works for more than a year and, because she has always had an “attitude of gratitude,” thanking network CEO Les Moonves, sports division chair Sean McManus and sports president David Berson is a priority for getting this done now.
“It might sound easier than it is, but CBS had to commit a budget, network time, producers, directors, a studio and contracts to the right people — and they all had to be women,” said Visser, the former Boston Globe reporter and longtime CBS reporter who participated in a New York rehearsal Wednesday.
“Personally, I come from a place where I was the only woman 40 years ago covering the NFL, when the credentials said, ‘No women in the press box’ — this wasn’t the 1880s, or 1910, but 1974. I’m just thrilled this show is happening.”