Remember the XFL? Of course you do. That little one-year football experiment (and I use the term “football” loosely) jointly run by the World Wrestling Federation and NBC. You remember - everybody watched the first week, no one was watching within a few weeks and the whole outfit went kaput after one season and oh, about $70 million in non-charitable donations.
While many on the staff now conveniently leave it off their resumes for some reason, I have always been more than willing to admit - hell, celebrate –my role as PR guy for the league. Not only was it a blast and we actually did some good things, but you definitely learn more from failure than anything else. So I learned a ton, needless to say.
But I also stand by the fact that the PR for the league was fantastic, though that was in spite of me, not because of me. We got something like 48 million people to watch games the first weekend, and that was largely thanks to the fantastic PR staff under Dick Ebersol and Kevin Sullivan at NBC Sports.
Why am I writing about this now? Because three of the key members of that team have gotten great new gigs recently, and deserve a collective shout out.
Mike McCarley, who vaulted up the ranks to eventually run the NBC Sports PR department and more, not long ago took over as the head of the Golf Channel. Lucky bastard, that job must be terrible.
Alana Russo recently joined Paul Hewitt’s PR team at the CW, a big gig at a network whose PR and buzz have far eclipsed its ratings for years.
And just today, came the great news that Cameron Blanchard has been upped to executive vice president of the newly created NBCUniversal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media division. I’m not smart enough to know exactly what that means and good luck getting it on a business card, but it sounds important as hell and Cameron deserves it.
So while the XFL will live on in infamy for as long as the TV business exists, the fact people still talk about it is because a team of people more than 10 years ago did such a good job of launching it in the first place. And judging by the great career moves for McCarley, Blanchard and Russo, plenty of people agree with me. Mazel Tov you three, next round of drinks is on He Hate Me.