If Thea Andrews and Mario Lopez can’t get us excited about the flashy side of jockworld, then why even try? The two, whose combined acting resumes include such memorable roles in “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle,” “Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil” and “Saved By The Bell,” apparently drew the short straws to co-host the latest ESPN info-ainment driven series,”ESPN Hollywood,” slated to air weekdays at 3 p.m. starting Monday. From a TV studio on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, Andrews and Lopez will dive into such pressing issues as Jose Canseco’s wife’s upcoming appearance in Playboy magazine, what aliases athletes use when they check into hotels, what goes on at a Raiderettes photo shoot and whether the reality show by Venus and Serena Williams has any legs. Where, for the love of “The Insider,” is Pat O’Brien when you need him? “I’m blown away by how much great material we’ve had during rehearsals; the only problem we’ll have isn’t sustaining it, but what we’re going to turn away,” said Andrews, the leggy former co-host of “Cold Pizza” who also made some steamy cameos on the ESPN series “Playmakers” but has since escaped the morning chat scene to get closer to more potential acting gigs. ESPN programming whizkid Mark Shapiro adds: “We began by soliciting stories, but now they’re dropping on our front door. Whether it’s movie premieres, music news … its due in no small part to the fact that athletes will view ‘ESPN Hollywood’ as a place to get the word out on their brands and initiatives.” If it sounds like a wicked collision of the star-struck “Entertainment Tonight” and a heavily watered-down “SportsCenter,” that seems to be the formula. After all, you can’t spell the word “thespian” without the letters ESPN. One of the show’s execs, Andy Meyers, produced “ET” for 13 years. Albert Kim, a managing editor at People magazine, has also been brought on as the news director. Bill Bonnell, another exec producer, comes in from the ESPN side of things to mesh this mess together. “It seems like more and more the line between athletes and celebrity is blurring, and athletes now are the celebrity of today, especially for sports fans,” Meyers said. ” ‘SportsCenter’ is serious news about what’s happening on the field. Our show covers what the athletes are doing off the field, the fun stuff. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.” Nor will we. But we’ll monitor such things so that there’s no confusion over what superficial material stays under the Hollywood banner and what ends up trickling over to “Outside The Lines.” Don’t laugh. That happened last week after Lopez did a sit-down with Jose Canseco during one of those “ESPN Hollywood” rehearsals, and it turned out to be somewhat topical enough for Bob Ley’s nightly news analysis show. A lengthy Canseco clip was included on a discussion about the latest steroid revelations, and Ley credited Lopez (gulp) for the piece. The real test beyond the first couple of weeks is whether ESPN can control its own urges and not use this show as a promotional vehicle for its latest ESPN Original Entertainment drama series and movies, which have been competing for airtime against its primary food-group servings of live games and news-driven studio shows. Lopez, for example, is about to start filming a movie with Spike Lee as executive producer called “The Goal,” due out next year. Lopez plays a poor, young soccer player in Rio de Janiero who becomes the country’s greatest star. “We’re not going to use our program for a self-serving interest,” insisted Shapiro, who estimates that, with the latest addition of “Quite Frankly With Stephen A. Smith” on ESPN2 and “Classic Now” on ESPN Classic that EOE programming comprises about six percent of the total viewing hours across ESPN’s kingdom. “If it makes sense to have a big-name actor and it’s exclusive, then absolutely. But if we want to promote our own movies, there are so many other ways we can do that. We don’t need to ram it home through this vehicle.” Added Andrews: “That would end up being one very expensive promotion.” It’s just too bad this show wasn’t around a few months ago to cover the Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony of its own Jim Gray. Imagine Andrews and Lopez trying to keep a straight face while not trying to cross-promote that. Tom Hoffarth can be reached at [email protected] and (818) 713-3661. WHAT SMOKES If the measure of fame can be determined by whether you can be used as a punchline in a Jay Leno monologue, then Carolyn Hughes is on her way to … somewhere. On Monday’s “Tonight Show,” Leno scripted jokefest included: “Big Dodger trade announced this weekend … Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe has traded his wife for Fox Sports reporter Carolyn Hughes (laughter) … Nice to see at least one Dodger scoring this year.” Pa-rump. The Los Angeles City Council’s agenda for today’s 10 a.m. chamber session starts off with a full council resolution honoring Ross Porter for his years as a Dodgers broadcaster and sportscaster. The wording of the proclamation, co-sponsored by council members Bernard Parks and Ed Reyes notes Porter’s “28 years of loyal and dedicated service” to the Dodgers and an “incredible 38 years of uninterrupted announcing in the city of Los Angeles” going back to his days at KNBC-Channel 4. “I’m honored that this presentation is being made and honored to have been able to broadcast to the residents of Southern California for so many years,” said Porter, who says he’ll continue weighing options for possible broadcasting jobs. He’ll fill in for Fred Roggin on his afternoon sports-talk show Aug. 18 and 19 on 1540-AM. Yes, that Michelle Bonner co-anchoring the late-night ESPN “SportsCenter” last week is the same former KCOP-Channel 13 sportscaster who left (or was actually phased out) late in 2001. After a recent stint at CNN Headline News, Bonner was hired as an ESPNEWS anchor in March. WHAT CHOKES A decent idea by FSN West’s “Southern California Sports Report” to devote its entire half-hour show Monday night to the opening of UCLA’s football practice from Spaulding Field. But by taping it in the afternoon in the bright sunlight, it was pretty obvious that they weren’t “live” at 10 p.m. despite how anchor Michael Eaves tried to sell it. The major hitch, however, was that because it was all pre-taped, there was no mention of the major story that occurred later in the evening — the passing of former Angels manager Gene Mauch. Nor was there any kind of preview to the important three-game series between the Angels and Athletics. At the end of Dan Marino’s induction speech during Sunday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies carried on ESPN, the former Miami Dolphins quarterback took a ball and threw a pass. Said ESPN’s Trey Wingo, hosting the festivities: “Was there any doubt that pass was going to end up anywhere else but in Mark Duper’s hands?” Yes — only because it was Mark Clayton who caught it. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!