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Jennifer Gilbert To Host National Sports Show

September 14, 2010

By Dave Hughes,

Jennifer Gilbert
For an hour on Sunday mornings, Baltimore will be the center of the sports TV universe.
"The Real Score," which debuted Sept. 12 featured Channel 45/WBFF news anchor Jennifer Gilbert as a top sports TV show host seen from coast to coast.

The one-hour, pre-football game-day show "fundamentally believes that the viewer is much smarter than they are being given credit for," said David Hersh, the show's creator and executive producer.

Hersh heads a Tampa-based start-up company and its first project was a new Sunday sports news show, merging concepts from NBC's "Meet The Press" with the Fox Business Network and CNBC.

The program is geared to intelligent sports fans interested in what's going on behind the scenes in the fascinating corporate sports business world.

"We intend to give the viewer access to some of the best minds in the sports industry and have them discuss the issues of the day or use these leaders to provide an in-depth look at how the sports business works," Hersh said.

Armed with an idea for a new and innovative show, Hersh said he didn't want someone with a traditional sports background to host. Too many sports reporters and anchors are beholden to teams and sports TV networks, he said.

"We want it to be hard and real," he said. "We wanted a reporter to host it. Someone who doesn't have their integrity compromised. We were more comfortable with a hard news anchor."

When producers talked with Baltimore-based group TV station owner Sinclair about carrying the show, the people at Sinclair suggested Gilbert as host. Hersh initially resisted the move -- until he met Gilbert and was impressed.

Having worked at Sinclair's WBFF since 1993, Gilbert has won two Capital Region Emmy Awards and, in 2002, was named "Best News Anchor" by Baltimore magazine. In addition, she has won numerous awards from the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists.

"We are trying to tell independent sports news with integrity, with a fresh sense of eyes," Hersh said. "We want to bring out information that can't be told elsewhere."

"The Real Score" is produced at Baltimore's WBFF studios and distributed to dozens of stations. To date, the show has been picked up in 30 markets, including Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and has a potential to reach more than 22 million homes with more markets expected to be announced shortly. The show is seen on many stations owned by the Fox/News Corporation group, including Washington's Channel 20/WDCA.

The new role will not affect Gilbert's anchoring duties at WBFF, according to Bill Fanshawe, the station's general manger.

The initial list of contributing talent for "The Real Score" includes: CBS Sports veteran Neal Pilson and Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten, plus other sports notables including Jerry Rice, Ron Shapiro, Peter Luukko, Pat Williams, Randy Vataha, Vince Dooley, Steve Phillips, Jim Tressel, Carl Peterson, Phil Esposito, Dawn Hudson and Edward DeBartolo.

The top of each show includes an "In The News" feature, with a summary of the sports news of the week past and a view of the week ahead as presented by Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily. Abe Madkour, executive editor of both publications, will join Gilbert for that segment.

Also, famed TV producer and director Garry Marshall provides an end-of-show feature, "Marshall's Law," an Andy Rooney, "60 Minutes"-type commentary.

Joe DeFeo, a media information expert and former vice president of Sinclair's news division, is the show's producer.

The show's parent company, The Real Score Productions, is a small, tightly-knit news organization working on its first project. Hersh hinted if the show is successful, more programming would be coming.

"The Real Score" is "live to tape," actually shot the day before it airs. It runs on Channel 45 at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays, just before the Fox affiliate's NFL coverage. It's also slated to air in Washington on Channel 20 from 9-10 a.m. on Sundays.

Issue 153: September 2010