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Happy New Year, and welcome back to the Spotlight! If your New Year’s resolution is to get up to speed on the latest in the sports and entertainment business, while also getting the occasional chuckle, you have come to the right place. Skeptical? You have nothing to lose—and I’m far less expensive than that impossible-to-cancel gym membership that you’re never going to use anyway. That being said, if you're trying to cut back on the amount of cheese you consume, then you're out of luck. As we roll into 2024, maybe you’re energized by a clean slate for the year ahead or (like me) propelled forward with a fantasy football championship

    • At the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2024, the copyrights in the original "Steamboat Willie" character on which Mickey Mouse was based fell into the public domain and opened up the door to no shortage of gory horror films (“we’ve got fears, say ”’cheers!’”) featuring the aforementioned mouse. This is great news to those of us who thought parenting wasn't hard enough these days.

    • New York Jets Quarterback Aaron Rodgers strongly implied that late night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s name would appear on a list of associates of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.  With good reason, Kimmel took exception to the jab (apparently motivated by Rodgers’ animus towards Kimmel’s jokes about him), threatening legal action against Rodgers. You might call Rodgers’ grudges his Achilles.

    • In an effort to bring in a new audience for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, NBCUniversal is enlisting the services of Snoop Dogg, who may be utterly disappointed to find out what it means to pass the torch.

For the very last time in 2023, welcome back to the Spotlight! I know there’s still 2 weeks left in the year but I figure my readers are either going to be checked-out or buried in work to complete before end of the year. If you can’t wait for more puns and dad jokes until 2024 (like a shoe store for Shaquille O’Neal, that’s no small feat) you can email me at and/or add me on LinkedIn. But if Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani can wait 10 years to start receiving the $680 million deferred compensation balance of his recently signed 10 year, $700 million contract, I think you will manage. From mega contracts to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, to Messi’s move to Miami, to Taylor Swift’s global domination, to artificial intelligence’s emergence to the mainstream, to the continued growth of women’s sports, to pickleball and the expansion of athletes’ investment portfolios, the year has been packed with huge stories and developments in the sports and entertainment industries occurrences and I look forward to seeing what’s in store for the next pages of the calendar. Until then, I leave you with best wishes for Happy Holidays and of course the following:

    • The Washington Commanders are moving business operations off-site from their home stadium, FedEx Field. No word on whether there are plans to move winning operations in. 

    • The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is due to be featured in a docuseries on streaming platform Peacock, virtually guaranteeing a Sean Astin cameo appearance. 

    • On the heels of the Netflix Cup golf tournament, the streaming service is continuing a push into live sporting events with a tennis match between two Grand Slam champions Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz. A perfect event for viewers seeking to get their net fix.

Sports & Entertainment SpotlightWelcome back to the Spotlight! This past Tuesday, I was fortunate to attend sports business publication Sportico’s Influence live event in New York City. Besides having the pleasure of meeting a number of interesting (dare I say “influential”) attendees involved in various facets of the sports, entertainment and media business, I got to hear firsthand accounts and advice from sports executives who have adapted to the current landscape and expanded their influence through a singular attribute: authenticity.  That common denominator pervaded every panel discussion, from Barstool Sports’ growth through its creation of original content, to the origin story of the management group behind Travis Kelce and his banner year, to the unparalleled rise of Wrexham A.F.C. in the public’s consciousness to an NBA owner’s genuine love for his organization (and a tequila co-founded with other NBA owners including some guy named Michael Jordan).  In this age of disinformation and misinformation, authenticity reigns supreme. In many ways, it underpins this blog, as I strive to package authentic news and insights with authentically cringe-worthy dad jokes.  Now if you’d excuse me, I am going to celebrate the New York Yankees acquiring Juan Soto with a glass of a new favorite tequila (talk about being under influence!), but not without some parting gifts below.

    • Perhaps unsurprisingly, Taylor Swift was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2023. The news left many of her ardent supporters jubilant over the news, yet flummoxed about what a “magazine” is.
    • NASCAR and the English Premier League each strike media rights deals valued at approximately $8 billion, marking just the second thing the two have in common besides flag signals.
    • NCAA president Charlie Baker circulated a letter to Division I member colleges and universities, proposing the creation of “enhanced educational trust funds” that would enable athletic departments to pay athletes directly (rather than athletes needing to be approached with the nudge/wink deals that have emerged in the NIL era). It’s a concept so logical and reasonable that the NCAA is almost certainly going to mess it up.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! If you’re reading this week, it means that you managed to pull yourself away from your Spotify Wrapped year-end summary. As for your Spotlight Wrapped, I would like to think that your laughs over the past year have been immeasurable (or at the very least, existent) as you’ve joined me for nearly forty installments. Amongst those mentioned most frequently are Lionel Messi and Taylor Swift – the latter being, to no one’s surprise, also the most popular recording artist on Spotify.  Someone whose name has not appeared in the Spotlight this year (until now, that is) is billionaire entrepreneur, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of “Shark Tank,” Mark Cuban. After the news of this past week, his introduction is going to change yet again, as Cuban not only announced that the upcoming sixteenth season of “Shark Tank” would be his last, but also that he is selling a majority ownership stake in the Mavericks to the Adelson family’s Las Vegas Sands Corp for a cool $2 billion.  What’s more is that Cuban is going to be retaining full control over basketball operations, all the while presumably lobbying Texas legislators to legalize gambling so as to allow him to fulfill his dream of building a new Dallas stadium complex wrapped within a hotel and casino. I do hope we get to see that someday, too. For now, let’s build upon your 2023 Spotlight Wrapped stats:

    • Famed Rock & Roll duo Daryl Hall & John Oates find themselves on opposing ends of a “v.” rather than an ampersand, as Hall is suing Oates alleging that the latter sought to sell his interest in the duo’s joint venture that administers the duo’s intellectual property assets without the former’s permission. Given their history together, this battle is sure to heat up--like a flame that burns the candle and the candle feeds the flame.
    • A not-so-subtle reminder to hospitality industry to secure music licenses for its establishments, as a Universal Music Group affiliate is seeking $264 million from a Las Vegas karaoke bar for the unlicensed use of instrumental tracks. The final straw, I’m told, is when a patron attempted to perform “Stairway to Heaven.”
    • University of Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule made a bold assessment when asked about the merits of attracting talent with name, image and likeness (NIL) dollars through the NCAA transfer portal – that a quarterback costs $1 to 2 million. Happily he’s a football coach and not an accountant, or we’d all be out between $999,999.75 and $1,999,999.75.  

Welcome back to the Spotlight! With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up next week, the Spotlight will be on a one-week hiatus. But lest you worry, it’s all gravy. I will do my best to load up your plate with all the fixings, squashed into a format easier to digest than your aunt’s dry Thanksgiving turkey. As you’ll find if you take a pecan-side, the cavity below is stuffed with all that’s bean cooking in the sports and entertainment kitchen. Although I am on a roll (I really know how to butter myself up), I will not yam-mer on with my corny puns and wordplay any longer. But on a serious note, despite all the really terrible things going on in the world these days, I challenge you all to set that aside in favor of something or someone for which to be thankful.    

    • Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are adding another World War II project (an AppleTV+ Series called “Masters of the Air”) to go along with “Band of Brothers,” “The Pacific” and “Saving Private Ryan” to their production credits that include “Saving Private Ryan.” A sequel (to the war--not to the series) may well be in development.

    • Entertainment and sports agency, Creative Artists Agency launches a better-for-you snack company called Myna Snacks with the help of a popular digital media streamer and consumer packaged goods (CPG) expert. The products have zero percent dairy, soy, gluten and grains, zero percent artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, and fifteen percent commission. 

    • Major League Baseball’s owners unanimously approved the plans to have the Oakland Athletics viva in Las Vegas. Next item up for voting is whether to give the Vegas team 162 home games.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! It seems the spotlights on film and television sets across the country are primed to be turned back on, as actors’ union SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) finally reached a tentative agreement to extend and modify the expired collective bargaining agreement. That the strike lasted for over six months – the longest of its kind in history is notable and raises questions about why the parties waited so long for this breakthrough.  Perhaps the AMPTP thought they could win the war of attrition, but ultimately underestimated the actors’ skill at being waiters (many of whom will remain as such notwithstanding the strike ending). Perhaps SAG-AFTRA was satisfied that the wage and pension benefit increases and accompanying restrictions around the use of artificial intelligence in productions under the final proposal were indeed the “best and final” offer from the AMPTP. Or perhaps both sides felt that there were more compelling stories to tell and portray than that of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce (blasphemy, I know). Whatever the reason, it sounds as if we will be assured at least three years of a détente between actors and studios. Until then, let the champagne (and popcorn) pop and revel in that and other news in this installment of the spotlight.       

    • Death, taxes and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” invading the airwaves during the holiday season – those things are certain.  Another possible entrant might soon be copyright litigation around the lattermost.  Clearly, plaintiffs are misinterpreting the lyrics.

    • As the dust settles from FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried being convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges, additional pressure is put on the various athletes and entertainers (Tom Brady, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry David) facing lawsuits for their roles in having endorsed the platform. Short of settlement of the lawsuits for pennies on the dollar, the best outcome might be an appeal that renders Sam Bankman, freed.

    • Hedge fund billionaire and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is leading the charge on an $8 billion bid to bring a casino to Flushing Meadows, Queens right across from the Mets’ CitiField ballpark. If the move encourages wagers on the Mets to win, it might be the ultimate hedge.

While many of you come down from your Halloween sugar high, Taylor Swift remains in another stratosphere. Not because of sweets (although I hear Donna Kelce’s pre-game chocolate chip cookies are not to be missed), but rather because of domination of the music industry en route to recently having her net worth eclipse $1 billion.  In that regard, Swift is something of a unicorn (incidentally, her fanbase’s second most beloved animal behind Swift’s cat, Olivia Benson), because while other recording artists have spun off CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands – whether in fashion, apparel, beauty or liquor – the lion’s (not Olivia Benson’s) share of Swift’s fortune has been built almost exclusively on her music. Swift’s decision to re-record her back catalog of albums and monetize them on her own terms, through record sales, touring and her film chronicling her touring has been nothing short of genius. This gives me hope that perhaps someday, I’ll be able to recycle some of my best hits from prior Spotlights, such as this one from February 17, 2022

Actor Stanley Tucci inks a multiyear endorsement deal with Italian sparkling mineral water company, San Pellegrino, in which bottles will be branded “Stan Pellegrino.” An infinitely better proposition than a diaper rash ointment deal pitched to him for “Tucci Cream.”

I mean…that’s a billion dollar joke right there. For now, I’ll continue to build my own catalog through this week’s installment of the Spotlight: 

    • Kim Kardashian’s Skims brand flexes its sports marketing chops in becoming the official underwear partner of the WNBA, NBA and USA Basketball.  Here’s hoping they don’t take that too far and create a “nothing but net” product.
    • The University of Houston Cougars Football program received a cease and desist letter from the NFL for the Cougars’ wearing confusingly similar uniforms to those of the NFL’s legacy franchise the Houston Oilers (the rights to which are owned by Oilers’ successor franchise, the Tennessee Titans). In its letter, NFL asserted that the colorway and trade dress of Cougars’ “H-Town Pride” tribute uniforms were confusingly similar to those of the Oilers’ “Luv Ya Blue” uniforms. Were the Cougars to wear the uniforms again, they might need to call them the “We have a problem” uniforms.  
    • Flag Football is enjoying something of a Pickleball moment, seeing an influx of tens of millions of dollars as the sport rises in popularity (and will soon be an event at the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles), though it is unlikely to be a hip replacement for those who have hip replacements.

We’re just a few days away from Halloween, but I don’t feel the same excitement about the holiday as I once did. Maybe it is because I am older and eat less candy (I have the before and after pictures to prove it).  Maybe it is because the world is a scarier place right now than any horror movie could be.  Maybe it is because I am dreading all of the Barbie-Ken and Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift costumes.  Or, even more troubling, it is because I am looking forward to all of the Barbie-Ken and Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift costumes.  I’ll ponder that some more as I snack on some candy corn (controversial choice, I know--if only that was the most divisive issue facing us in our time…).  In any event, practice safe trick-or-treating: look both ways before crossing the street and carry both a flashlight and the knowledge from this spotlight.

    • Collectibles company Rally is selling fractional ownership of New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle’s childhood home.  One can only assume the space above the fireplace will garner top dollar.
    • Unable to secure the $30 million per year that he was seeking for NBA jersey sponsorship rights for the Las Vegas Sphere, Sphere Entertainment Executive Chairman James Dolan found another suitor: Madison Square Garden Sports Executive Chairman James Dolan. As a result, the New York Knicks’ jerseys and warm-up shirts will bear Sphere branding.  Hopefully, I’ll be as excited to watch the Knicks as I am the animations on the outside of the Sphere – but I’m not holding my breath.
    • Taking cues from Universal Music Group, music streaming platform Spotify unveils a new royalty structure designed to address fraud that siphons royalties away from legitimate human artists. My dog’s recording career will have to be put on paws.    

Welcome back to the Spotlight! As Winston Churchill once said, “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Of course, Churchill predated the proliferation of social media that has enabled a lie to go even further in a fraction of the time.  Earlier this week, we witnessed how damaging the effects can be, as hasty journalists took a genocidal terror organization at its word and reported that an alleged Israeli airstrike on a Gazan hospital caused an explosion that allegedly killed 500 people.  Spoiler alert: the Israelis were not responsible for the blast, but rather the aforementioned terror organization was. Unfortunately, in the click-driven economy we live in, a premium is placed on speed rather than on truth.  By the time the truth came out, mass protests, riots and antisemitic violence (Including the destruction of synagogues) had already taken place.  Worse, because people are going to believe what they want to believe to fit their own narrative or agenda – even in the face of evidence to the contrary – the proverbial bell cannot be un-rung. No retractions, no mea culpas, no apologies.

A microcosm of this (clearly with not the same gravity, but humor me here) was when it was widely reported that now former Major League Baseball pitcher Trevor Bauer had committed heinous acts of sexual assault against an alleged victim. Bauer was dragged through the mud in the media and released by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a result. Just two weeks ago, we learned that after a two year court battle, it was evident that Bauer had been set-up and was the victim of blackmail.  Unfortunately for Bauer, the exoneration story does not get quite the level of interest as the one that implicated him in wrongdoing – and his baseball future in the US (he currently plays in Japan) remains uncertain at best.  The lesson from these parables? Perhaps we could all refrain from rushing to judgment or jumping to conclusions before casting a story in the spotlight. 

Some highlights from the week:

    • Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver Ja’Marr Chase forges a convenient endorsement deal with convenience store chain 7-Eleven because they’re both “always open.”  A much better fit for a wide receiver than a deal with Butterfinger.

    • Milwaukee Bucks Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo sues luxury mattress company Maree for allegedly failing to deliver on quality and quantity while using Antetokounmpo’s name, image and likeness without his consent. Those allegations are enough to lose sleep over. 

    • Taylor Swift’s film chronicling her Eras Tour opened last weekend to millions of screaming and shrieking fans, grossing about $92.8 million in North America and $123.5 million internationally in the opening weekend—a new record for concert films. Fortunately, that should be just enough to cover the cost of repairing the resulting shattered glass mirrors and windows.

Welcome back to the Spotlight. I would have loved nothing more than to write about sports and entertainment with levity and dad jokes as per usual. But, in light of the unspeakable, antisemitic terrorist acts committed in Israel in which no one, not even babies, was spared this past week—let alone the callous, hateful “justifications” for them—I am in no mood. I wanted to skip this week altogether, but could not remain silent—and neither should you. So, no bulletpoints (G-d knows there have been enough of those). If you’re looking for ways to help, I encourage you to donate to legitimate organizations that will provide on-the-ground humanitarian aid to those affected. Thank you for reading and stay safe. Am Yisrael Chai.

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