“It’s just a part of the morphing into a new role,” said the 50-year-old forever-young-looking Miller, enjoying another ice tea at an outdoor restaurant Wednesday on a non-snowy winter day in Hollywood. Miller logged 17 years at ESPN, spending many a night on “SportsCenter” or “Baseball Tonight” or as a dugout reporter on regional games. It was ESPN who sent him out this way in 1999 to succeed Chris Myers as the host of Roy Firestone-created “Up Close.” That only lasted three years before the show was eventually, and unfortunately, phased out. In the process, he met his future wife, Lisa Marie, a North Hollywood native and graduate of Louisville High in Woodland Hills who was the show’s office manager. Taping the show out of the Anaheim ESPN Zone restaurant, Miller was able to start a family in Santa Ana with now 5-year-old daughter Calle and 2-year-old son Rigley (that’s as in Wrigley Field, but minus the “W”). Some regional biases die harder than others. But Miller knew as soon as he landed in this part of the country that he wanted to stay. “I knew as I was doing (‘Up Close’) that it was the greatest job I’d ever have, and looking back, I think the industry as a whole is missing a good, unedited interview show like that one,” Miller said. “It bugged me that the network was going more and more away from interviewing athletes and more to having their own analysts like (Peter) Gammons or a (Sean) Salisbury provide the soundbites to the day’s news. Maybe it’s because they’re not afraid to say things that an athlete that’s too middle-of-the-road won’t say.” We interrupt this story for an “Up Close”-esque segue: Some in the media industry assumed Miller’s reassignment to California was part of a career makeover. It came a year after an infamous incident in Cleveland, where Miller went through the embarrassment of an arrest for urinating out a second-story window onto two off-duty police officers on the night before the Cleveland Indians were to play the Baltimore Orioles in an American League playoff game at Jacobs Field. Do an Internet search for the story, and the version of what happened in the newspapers, and what Miller actually remembers taking place, are quite different. Miller says he was definitely drinking at the open-bar party, hosted by the American League. He needed to use the restroom but the lines were too long, so he grabbed an empty beer bottle and filled it up. The next thing he knew, he was getting a tap on the shoulder by police officers and being handcuffed. Newspaper reports quoted the police as saying he had “an instrument used for drugs” – Miller said it was a plastic dental pick – and the reported “residue” in his pockets were from aspirin and Rolaids. Charged with indecency, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Miller immediately pleaded not guilty, and changed it in the December trial to no-contest. The way the story was reported – and it happened shortly after media frenzy over Marv Albert’s bizarre arrest for assaulting a sexual partner in a hotel room – has a profound affect on how Miller takes his journalistic approach to dealing with information about an arrested athlete or someone who’s going through public scrutiny. “I was angry about all the misinformation, and I was aware of it immediately,” he said. “When I was released, there were other reporters waiting to talk to me and I said, ‘You better get your facts right before you put them out there.’ “All that really did change me. It’s not like I was 20 in a frat house where it was some badge of honor. The thing that bothered me most was that the stories said, ‘Gary Miller, 40 …’ That’s not what I wanted to be doing with my life. I haven’t had a drink since. “But I did put myself in that situation. Since then, I had to interview athletes such as a Doc Gooden or Darryl Strawberry, and I guess I felt I could relate more to them after having my own public incident and the repercussions that go with it, having your life played out in the media. “Obviously, I don’t ever want to be put in that situation again. At least I didn’t hurt anyone. It was fairly minor-league stuff. I still get upset, though, when I see how lenient the courts can be with a DUI, or, especially here in Hollywood, when a celebrity is in the middle of a rehab and they’re allowed to come out to a movie premiere. I also don’t think I can listen to an athlete who blames someone else for their actions – like Evander Holyfield, an ordained minister who has all these children out of his marriage and says it’s because that’s what his father did. “I think they’re mixing the message there.” A strong spiritual force in Miller’s life also helped him reach a moment of epiphany after the incident. Having thick skin helps, too, when an employer lets you go without warning, which is basically what happened with him when KSPN-AM dropped him suddenly in November. Station management said Miller wasn’t opinionated enough, but somehow, the show he co-hosted with D’Marco Farr was successful enough that performance bonuses were kicking in for reaching certain ratings plateaus. Miller says he’s still receiving checks in the mail for that. “Based on my experience in the industry, it was not related at all to the content of the show, but to save money,” said Miller, who had been at the station for several years prior to the regular spot. “I’ve experienced almost every manner of discontinuation, but being let go for too much success and record ratings was a first. It was dumbfounding, especially when management said it takes 18 months for a show to really get running, and we had been doing it just a year.” Miller’s easygoing personna – something he says was molded by having Bob Costas as one of his broadcasting role models – wasn’t going to change. But that’s why he figured the station hired him in the first place, as a voice of reason to help shape Farr’s scattered opinions. The “bad taste” he says that is left from that radio gig is compounded by the fact that Farr, whom he recruited to join him for the show, hasn’t made any contact with him since then. There must be some strange reason, then, why KCAL feels compelled to keep Miller on the payroll. “We hired him knowing he had a lot of momentum and didn’t have to recreate any buzz based on who he was and the mark he’d already made in sports broadcasting,” said Scott Henry, the senior executive producer for sports at both KCAL and KCBS who hired Miller in December 2005. “He gave us instant credibility, especially for the Dodgers shows. By the end of last season, he and Eric Karros were really clicking on the pregame.” From his days 25 years ago at CNN, when he used to do weekend anchoring with Dan Patrick,. then to ESPN, where he rejoined Patrick and befriended a whole other lot of now-familiar sports personalities, Miller said he always had a fascination with living in the West, but never thought he’d be here. Now he can’t imagine leaving. “Not many people leave here once they get ingrained with it, as I guess millions upon millions of our neighbors and freeway travelers can attest to that,” Miller said. “I’d like to make it permanent – as permanent as anything can be in this ludicrous industry.” Contact media columnist Tom Hoffarth at [email protected] (818) 713-3661 The best and worst of L.A. sports — TV anchor/reporters The top 10 1. Bill Macdonald, FSN After long consideration, we finally decided we shouldn’t be as amazed as we have been all these years about the way he transitions from anchor to reporter to sports awards show co-host. At last, one of the few who’s been with the cable network since the pre-historic days deserves to wear the crown. He’s not blushing. That’s a natural orange. Last year: 6 2. Fred Roggin, KNBC Channel 4 Combining the success of “The Challenge” interactive trivia show on Sunday nights during the NFL season and re-emerging on morning-drive sports talk boosts his Q-factor and keeps him ahead of the curve in that all-important exposure factor. Last year: 2 3. Jim Hill, KCBS Channel 2 Not to be blinded by all the stuff Mr. Snappy Dresser does off-camera, but serving as the acting grand marshal of the recent Martin Luther King Jr. Kingdom Day parade and his inclusion on the Hollywood Walk of Fame again show his importance in the community. Last year: 1 4. Lindsay Soto, FSN Earning more and more responsibility and respect with the network decision-makers, and for all the right reasons. Last year: 5 5. Curt Sandoval, KABC Channel 7 An ironman on and off the sports desk, he starts his 20th year as an on-air sportscaster (says his Web site, www.curtsandoval.com). Last year: 3 6. Patrick O’Neal, FSN So pop and step brother are having a heated discussion, apparently with a fireplace utensil, and estranged step-sister adds her two cents, and Gloria Allred jumps into the fracas … Sorry, man. We won’t ask. Last year: 8 7. John Ireland, KLAC Channel 9 According to his Internet Movie Database site link ( http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0409869 ) , he died in 1992 from leukemia. All things considered, he still looks good. Last year: 4 8. Gary Miller, KCAL Channel 9 Says Dodgers pregame partner Eric Karros about Miller, considering they also worked on ESPN regional baseball games: “Gary is genuinely interested in what he does, from being well-prepared, well-informed and if he stands a stand, it’s not just for the sake of argument. He’s one of the most informed guys I’ve been around in the media.” Last year: 10 9. Jim Watson, FSN Asked to do more and more play-by-play assignments, he’s still the go-to guy if you need someone at the last minute to shag postgame quotes from the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen catcher. Last year: 9 10. Tom Murray, FSN His re-emergence on Kings and Ducks games as a rink-side reporter hopefully will be the first of an extended return for the former KCAL Channel 9 anchor. Last year: Not ranked Honorable mention Petros Papadakis, FSN; Kevin Kennedy, FSN Dodgers; Eric Karros, KCAL Channel 9 studio analyst; Paul Westphal, FSN basketball; Mario Solis and Bill Seward, KNBC Channel 4; John Hartung, KABC Channel 7; Christine Nubla, FSN; Rick Garcia and Rory Markus, KTTV Channel 11. The bottom 5 1. Jack Haley, FSN basketball studio. When Max Headroom moves those mechanical lips, it takes away all that distraction caused by fans waving behind him on the other side of the Staples Center studio glass. Perhaps they’re just trying to alert the people at home that there’s smoke coming out of his battery pack. Haley’s stratospheric comments are truly from another planet. Last year: Ignored 2. Steve Lyons, FSN Dodgers studio Can’t he just look at Kevin Kennedy and resist that urge to contribute something we already know? Maybe FSN will have him back this year; maybe not. Last year: Barely tolerated 3. Eric Dickerson, KCBS Channel 2. Please, stop living off the NFL Hall of Fame credentials and actually learn the craft now. Last year: Given another free pass 4. Alan Massengale, KCAL Channel 9. Why can’t we get over that smarmy smirk while he’s delivering his pitch? It’s as if he just heard a dirty joke off air and can’t wait to tell it when the segment’s finally over. Last year: Horrible mention 5. So whatever happened to Jennifer Gould? According to her vanity Web site (www.jennifergould.com), the former KTTV Channel 11 bar-hopper-with-a-microphone says she’s writing and producing feature fluff for the E! Entertainment Network. Which apparently still exists on some cable systems. Horrible mention Michael Eaves, FSN; Rob Fukuzaki, KABC Channel 7; Damon Andrews, KTLA Channel 5.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! How can it not crack Gary Miller up every time he’s walking through an airport or a crowded baseball stadium and he gets recognized. Sort of. “Someone will say, ‘Hey, I just saw you last night on ESPN,”‘ Miller said. “OK, even though I haven’t done a ‘SportsCenter’ in eight years…” For the Chicago-area native whose sports TV career was shaped by long stops at all-sports monolith in Bristol, Conn., as well as in Atlanta during the growing stages of CNN and Headline News, the mistaken identity is understandable. But a year has gone by since KCAL-Channel 9 hired him as a weekend anchor and co-host for the station’s Dodgers pregame telecasts. A recent year-long run on KSPN-AM (710) as an afternoon host on a show called “West Coast Bias” could be an even bigger clue to his region of choice for those still confused.
“I want to thank the fans for your support throughout the four years we’ve spent together.“I can proudly say it was an honour to play in front of you.”Everton’s record Premier League goalscorer with 68 posted his comments on Instagram from Los Angeles where he is on holiday with now United team-mate Paul Pogba.United’s pre-season tour is in serendipitous fashion beginning in Los Angeles.Lukaku added: “To the staff at the the stadium and training ground thank you for making me feel home from the first day I walked in.“To technical staff thank you for helping me become a better player. Working with you guys has been a pleasure and I’ll take your advice throughout the rest of my career.“Thank you Everton football club.”Lukaku — who Everton made a tidy profit on having bought him in 2014 from Chelsea for £28m — joins United after turning down the most lucrative contract offered by the Merseyside club at the end of last season.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku is Everton’s record Premier League goalscorer with 68 goals after joining the Goodison Park side in 2014 © AFP/File / Glyn KIRKLONDON, United Kingdom, Jul 10 – Romelu Lukaku bid a fond farewell to Everton as he contemplated life with Manchester United following his move for a reported £75 million ($97m, 85.5m euros) transfer record deal between British clubs.“I want to say a big thank you to all the people involved at Everton,” the 24-year-old Belgian international striker said.