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October 06, 1989 - Image 95

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



Special to The Jewish News


ernie Smilovitz's
story is not unusu-
al. He was a boy
with a love for
sports who lacked
the rare talent it
takes to be a profes-
sional athlete. So
instead, Smilovitz decided to
work in a sports media pro-
fession. At the age of five, a
young Smilovitz proclaimed
his future intentions. But
he did not see himself,
30-some years later, achieving
fame for popularizing sports
"bloopers" in Detroit.
"I met Mayor Coleman
Young at the Fox Theater,"
Smilovitz says. "And he walk-
ed over to me, and he said,
`Blooper Boy!' I went home
and told my wife, 'I'm 36, and
they're calling me Blooper
Boy: But that's O.K. I'm hap-
py to be known for
Aside from Bloopers fame,
Smilovitz has four local Em-
my awards under his belt.
Smilovitz came to Detroit
and WDIV three years ago.
He replaced Eli Zaret, now a
competitor on Channel 2, who
was leaving for a New York
Smilovitz's style was dif-
ferent from the gravelly-
voiced Zaret, who specializes
in biting, pointed commen-
taries. Smilovitz uses a light
touch, a lot of highlights. and
— of course — bloopers.
Sports bloopers, by
themselves, were little-used
until recent years, except for
the slapstick-style "Football
Follies" programs produced
by NFL Films. Since
Smilovitz took over, bloopers
have gained in popularity.
While he developed his
style, Smilovitz, as a sports
fan, first imagined himself in
the viewer's chair, then did
the types of things he liked to
see. He wants the images he
presents not only to grab and
hold the audience, but to stay
with them the next day.
"If they (viewers) did not en-
joy what they were seeing,
they weren't going to watch
you. And I never really en-
joyed. watching anyone who
was doing it (sportscasting) in
a rather straightforward

Bernie's Bloopers have made
him a star; how did he do
it? We've got highlights ..

OCT. 6-OCT.12


Smilovitz stayed at WTOP
for four years, during which
time he also played host to a
sports call-in show. He then
went to work for the Fox-
owned WTTG-TV.
For seven years, Smilovitz
developed his on-air style in
Washington; then he brought
it to Detroit. "I made the
move," he explains, "because
one, it's with a network af-
filiate — I was with an in-
dependent before; two, it's a
terrific station; and three, it
was a market that had not
seen, I guess, what do, and
I wanted to see if it would
work here the way it did in
Washington." The Tigers,
whose games are broadcast
on WDIV, were another factor
for the move, as Smilovitz
took over Zaret's Tiger pre-
game show, along with the
6 and 11 p.m. sportscasts.
On paper, Smilovitz's rise
seems quick. Did it seem that
way to him? "I remember the

"I don't consider
myself to be bigger
than life, as many
TV performers do."

Bernie Smilovitz is all smiles at WDIV.

manner with a lot of commen-
taries . . There's really not a
lot of time to do TV sports. So,
I figure, you've got to enter-
tain, and you've got to in-
He hopes that the question
asked by workers around the
water cooler the day after his
sportscast is, " 'Did you see
what Bernie had on last
night?' Plus, I also find that
a lot of women who hate
sports, love to watch what we
do because it's entertain-
Smilovitz and his staff tape
three or four games each
night. Then he, along with
two or three producers, "sit
down and really search and
find a lot of different stuff."
From such stuff bloopers are

Smilovitz, a native of the
Washington, D.C. area, re-
mained there until his move
to Detroit.
Smilovitz was the house an-
nouncer for his high school,
Northwood, in Silver Spring,
Md. In college, he studied
radio and television and jour-
nalism. As a sophomore, he
did a once-a-week sports show
on small radio station,
A college internship at
Washington's all-news radio
station, WTOP, became a
$2.25 per hour job upon
graduation. The work involv-
ed gathering details of traffic
problems. "I took that job just
to get into the building," he
says. Within two months
WTOP's sportscaster was
fired. Smilovitz got his break.


two or three months when
didn't work, called everybody,
trying to get a job. It goes
slower when it's happening
but, yeah, looking back I
guess it did happen pretty
"I have the freedom to do
anything I want. I thank
management for that because
that's the big key. There's a
lot of places where they might
stop you. Not here. They just
tell me to keep doing it, and
do more of it:'
He adds, I wouldn't trade
jobs with anybody in the
Smilovitz particularly en-
joys the banter with news an-
chors Mort Crim and Carmen
Harlan, "wondering what
they'll say next, or what I'll
say. None of it is rehearsed;
all of it is ad-libbed. It's a
great situation to be in:'
The banter led to headlines
recently when Smilovitz
goaded Crim into accepting a
dare: Crim would shave his
head if the last-place Tigers
won eight straight games.
The Tigers' August hot streak

Dearborn, "Fifty Years of
TV," through Jan. 2,
admission, 271-1620.



13750 Tireman, Detroit;
The Ron Coden Show,
8:30 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Fridays and Saturdays,
through Oct. 21,
admission, 846-0737.


32332 W. 12 Mile Road,
Farmington Hills, Mr.
Roberts, through Nov. 18,
admission, 538-1670.
Wayne State University,
Detroit, The Philadelphia
Story, through Nov. 11, -
admission, 577-2972.
Wayne State University,
Detroit, Mister Roberts,
through Oct. 15,
admission, 577-2972.
135 E. Main Street,
Northville, The Desert
Song, through Oct. 29,
admission, 349-8110.
415 S. Lafayette Avenue,
Royal Oak, Carousel,
through Oct. 22,
admission, 541-6430.
Oakland University,
Rochester, The Diary of a
Scoundrel, through Oct.
29, admission, 377-3300.
Birmingham, Social
Security, through Sunday,
admission, 644-2075.
17630 Woodward, Detroit,
Safe Sex, through Nov.
18, admission.
3011 W. Grand Blvd.,
Detroit, Les Miserables,
through Nov. 26,
admission, 872-1000.
408 W. Washington, Ann
Arbor, Trane—Beyond the

Continued on Page 78



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