ESPN changes: Michelle Beadle gone, more Simmons documentaries

The ESPN corporate presentation about their plans for the 2012-13 television season announced new content, more social media activity, including a deal with Twitter and new "30 for 30" documentaries.

The ESPN family announced the loss of media star Michelle Beadle. In an interview with SI.com's Richard Deitsch, ESPN's President John Skipper expressed regret about not retaining Beadle's services.

The weekday hour-long program which Michelle Beadle co-hosted with radio host Colin Cowherd, "Sports Nation" will continue but it is unclear if Cowherd will remain without his blonde co-host. Read: Michelle Beadle exits Bristol with dig at ex Matthew Barnaby.

Actually, a new blonde will take Michelle's place according to sources leaking news to Jim Miller, author of the recent bestseller about the network. Miller reports that Charissa Thompson is set to slip into that role, leaving the former female darling on the network, Erin Andrews wondering what happened to her popularity in Bristol. Thompson has been with ESPN less than one year.

Skipper told Deitsch, "We are sorry she's (Beadle) leaving. We worked hard to try to keep her but she has some different aspirations and we wish her well on those. She did a great job. Colin did a great job as well. However, as we have discovered, these shows work. If you have a good format, the shows can work when you transition to a different host."

Other changes already announced in broadcast partnerships include the dumping of Ron Jaworski from "Monday Night Football" to feature Jon Gruden with Mike Tirico in a two-man booth. Skipper and the suits at ESPN love Gruden as he told Richard Deitsch.

"...we want to ride Gruden. Gruden is a star. You have seen his QB show. He has a lot of personality. He has a lot to say. There was some concern that he and Jaws sounded a little bit the same in the booth."

Robin Roberts, currently a host on ABC's "Good Morning America" is returning to her roots at ESPN as host of series of interviews. USA Today reported that "In the Game with Robin Roberts" will debut May 17 across SportsCenter, abcnews.com and espnw.com and will focus on top female athletes.

The award-winning ESPN Films initiative "30 for 30" gets a new two-year run and will feature short films. Other changes include the platform for the short films which now includes the network's venture with Bill Simmons. His Grantland.com site will host a new short film each month. Simmons explained a bit about the new format and platform.

"Why expand the series with short films? Because "30 for 30" needed its own Mini-Me. Because live streaming has gotten so reliably fast that we felt like we could pull this off. Because there are stories out there that we loved for four to 12 minutes, but maybe not for a full hour." A clip from a short in the new series entitled "Here Now" featuring MLB bad boy Pete Rose and premiering next Tuesday May 22 is posted below.

The Twitter - ESPN initiative will be centered on specific sporting events or series and will include both ESPN and ABC network games. The first effort is called "Game Face" which will be up and running for the 2012 Finals that begin next month.

Media post.com reported that GameFace will be integrated throughout the live ABC broadcasts and ESPN’s "NBA Tonight" programming with a dedicated Twitter hashtag #GameFace.

Fans will be encouraged to tweet photographs of their “game face" during games. At the conclusion of each, "NBA Tonight" analysts will highlight the competition and reveal the best photographs on-air. NBA analyst Jalen Rose will pick his top five and then reveal the ultimate winner. The prize is a personal tour of the ESPN Bristol, CT headquarters.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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