The team that helped make John Madden’s TV career


John Madden

Q: I was saddened by the news of the death of John Madden. How long did he and Pat Summerall work together broadcasting football? — Mark Troy, via email

A: One of the most iconic teams in sports announcing first was brought together in 1981 by CBS, where they would call five Super Bowls together. In 1994, they moved to Fox, which made a winning bid for television rights to NFC games — and they called three more Super Bowls there. Though Summerall intended to retire from broadcasting in 2002, Fox brought him back and paired him with others, since Madden (who won Super Bowl XI himself in 1977, as the then-coach of the Oakland Raiders) had moved to ABC after his contract with Fox had ended.

Q: Will Piper Perabo be back in some form in Season 2 of “The Big Leap”? — Denise Gates, Stuart, Fla.

A: Though Fox hasn’t canceled the show as of this writing, a second season isn’t guaranteed, despite all the hints the show-within-the-show dropped about what it could do “next season.” Without spoiling anything for those who haven’t seen Season 1, it’s possible that Perabo could be present in the way she was toward the end of the first round … though the creative forces also might elect to leave that alone.

Piper Perabo

Q: Why does Bellamy Young keep going from show to show? — Carrie Powell, via email

A: She’s wanted, she’s available and she’s willing. Not long after her seven-season run on ABC’s “Scandal” ended — and once you’ve played the first female U.S. president, there must be a lot of thought that goes into your next move — Young was enlisted for Fox’s “Prodigal Son,” which lasted two seasons. Now, she’s back on ABC as a vineyard-operating family’s enemy in “Promised Land,” premiering Monday, Jan. 24.

Q: I watched “FBI” over the holidays, and Maggie was back with her fellow-agent boyfriend. Was that a repeat? — John Casey, Delta, Colo.

A: It was, from last season. If they aren’t preempted outright, most broadcast drama series go into rerun mode during the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Day, since the networks figure viewers will be occupied with other things … so new episodes are saved for after the holidays. That’s what happened with that entire Tuesday night of the “FBI” franchise recently on CBS — which, incidentally, won that evening’s ratings.

Q: Is there a certain reason “It’s a Wonderful Life” always is shown on Christmas Eve? — Terry Marks, Kansas City, Mo.

A: It’s more to maintain a holiday television tradition than anything mandated. Particularly during the 1980s — after the film had fallen out of copyright and any TV station that could get a copy could show it without having to pay anyone for the right to do so — it generally could be found starting on the hour on some channel on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.

Republic Pictures then acquired the rights to the movie via ownership of the story it was based on, and made a deal in 1994 with NBC for the picture to be televised there exclusively. Comments made by the network at the time indicated how respectful it was to the film’s history, extending to that Christmas Eve tradition … which has remained, though NBC also presents an earlier airing of the movie each holiday season.

Q: I enjoyed the Turner Classic Movies tribute to Ingrid Bergman in December. How many Oscars did she win? — Alex Light, St. Clairsville, Ohio

A: Three … for “Gaslight,” “Anastasia” and “Murder on the Orient Express,” all of which were shown by TCM during that salute. In fact, so were three of the four other films for which Bergman was Oscar-nominated: “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and “Autumn Sonata.” The only one missing was “Joan of Arc,” and that likely was a rights issue, since not all movies are necessarily available to TCM when it might want to show them.

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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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