Summertime and the living is easy. Unless, of course, you're a program director Don Kollins at the FAN 590. He's still looking to fill the vacant A.M. drive slot in time for the crucial fall ratings period. Last week ads were posted looking for someone to replace the departed combo of Don Landry and Gord Stellick. But with six weeks left till Labour Day, the post remains vacant since the George Stroumboulopoulos concept went unfulfilled. (Jeff Lumby's doing the show on an interim basis.)
So Kollins is taking a holiday. "I'm taking a week off," Kollins told Usual Suspects. "It's been crazy busy since I took over the job. When I get back at the start of August we're going through all the applications and then we'll make a decision as a team. There are plenty of terrific applicants and I'm sure we'll have a fantastic person. But I won't name anyone in advance, that's not how I work."
So let us mention former FAN 590 figure Mike Richards, who's already been in for a look-see at the Rogers campus in downtown Toronto. Should the current morning host on Calgary's FAN 960 be the choice to precede newly hired Andrew Krystal on the FAN's morning lineup, Kollins will have his hands full with the politically correct crowd. Considering some of Richards' controversial bits - Bob Cole Chicks I Like, Gay Or Not Gay, Fake Vijay Singh - and Krystal's frank opinions, Kollins will be taking the traditional station format in a whole new direction. (Krystal and Greg Brady, Kollins's other star hire so far, start Aug. 16.) Already he's moved to break up the timing of the commercial breaks that has existed for a while.
With the FAN taking a radical tack in tone, some feel it might be the ideal time for TSN to launch its long-rumoured radio network. Depending who you speak to, the change in tone could leave the FAN vulnerable with its traditional constituents. TSN's sister company CHUM already has sports radio stations in Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal. And some TSN personalities have radio clauses in their contracts - just in case. But sources indicate that TSN is two years away - minimum - from taking on the FAN in Toronto. Plus they have memories of the ill-fated TEAM network which crashed and burned back in the late '90s.
Open And Shut: The Canadian Open tees off tomorrow at Stanley Thompson's historic St. George's layout in west-end Toronto with a stronger field in comparison to recent years. Red-hot Paul Casey, Camilo Villegas, Luke Donald, Tim Clark, John Daly, Hunter Mahan and Retief Goosen have come from the British Open to compete for the third-oldest prize in golf. They'll be joined by the best Canadian players.
Organizers and TV executives hope that the Open has a more compelling storyline on the final day than Sunday's dominating walkover by gap-toothed unknown Louis Oosthuizen at St. Andrew's. The seven-shot romp drew a paltry 2.6 overnight rating in the U.S., down 33 per cent from last year's Tom Watson drama, down 26 per cent from Greg Norman's almost win in 2008 and down 37 per cent from Tiger Woods win in 2007. The move to cable from ABC was the lowest-rated final round ever.
Don't Quote Me: Usual Suspects wasn't enthralled by Dwyane Wade's reality-show-cum-free-agent-act with Chris Bosh. Still, that's no reason to condemn the Miami star for recent comments about the World Trade Center. Wade was explaining how media loses perspective about sports, saying that a two or three-game losing streak was not comparable to the 9/11 destruction of the towers. "You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade has just went down again," he told reporters. "But it's not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games lost and we'll have to get back on track."The self-appointed arbiters of correctness trumped this up into disrespect for the victims. Please, find something more useful to do than vetting media scrums.
On the other hand, there's baseball announcer Tim McCarver. The high-strung ex-catcher went all Mel Gibson that the New York Yankees are disrespecting former manager Joe Torre. "You remember some of those despotic leaders in World War II," McCarver told FOX TV listeners, "primarily in Russia and Germany, where they used to take those pictures that they had ... taken of former generals who were no longer alive, they had shot 'em. They would airbrush the pictures, and airbrushed the generals out of the pictures. In a sense, that's what the Yankees have done with Joe Torre. They have airbrushed his legacy. I mean, there's no sign of Joe Torre at the Stadium. And, that's ridiculous. I don't understand it."
Um, neither do we Tim. But not for the reasons you think.
Larger Than Life: Then there are readers who took umbrage with our description of Oosthuizen as Little Louis. Like he'll need years of therapy to get over it. Hey, the South African is 5-foot-9, 160 pounds and hits it a mile. So his size is a story. Get over it. We know Louis will.
Bid, Bettor, Best: Looking to play a private club that wouldn't let you on the property otherwise? Head to golfcanada.ca where you can bid to play on any one of about 350 of Canada's finest courses. They're having an auction and you might just get a bargoon for a foursome with carts at a super layout. Usual Suspects has already put in a bid to play at Bushwood. Now if we can just get Rodney Dangerfield's electric pink pants.
Holiday Wishes: Finally, you'll be stunned to know who the NBA is lining up for its annual Christmas Day showdown. Of course it's the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami LeBrons. What, you though they'd trot out Oklahoma/Charlotte? And because nothing says big ratings like a dead guy, TBS is showing all ten George Steinbrenner-themed Seinfeld episodes next week. Two a day. If that's not enough of the Sein/Stein zaniness, check out http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/14/opinion/14dowd.html?_r=1&hp.