Dan Gross: Comcast eyes name change

Posted: May 10, 2011

EXPECT COMCAST SportsNet to soon change its name to NBC Sports Philadelphia.

NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol recently told NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that Comcast's regional sports networks "all across the country will begin to be referred to something like 'NBC Sports Philadelphia,' 'NBC Sports Chicago,' etc.

"That will give viewers a much better sense of who we are wherever they go," Ebersol said on Bettman's SiriusXM Radio show on April 21.

He said that the regional sports networks are the "single most important product that we have, not only on the new NBC Sports cable but also as the absolute king of winter and spring on NBC," citing Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia for being the sole provider of Flyers hockey here. Ebersol's remarks were cited yesterday by SportsMedia Watch. com., which didn't say that they had originated with the Bettman interview. Asked for details of the name change yesterday, a Comcast SportsNet spokeswoman said that neither the station nor NBC Sports had anything to add to Ebersol's initial remarks. Comcast bought a majority stake in NBC/Universal in a deal that Congress approved in January.

Out and about

* Stone Temple Pilots, in town performing at the Tower Theatre, stopped by the Philadelphia Zoo the other day for a behind-the-scenes look at the big cats.

The same day, the zoo hosted Sam Champion, of "Good Morning America," who featured the zoo's new exhibit, "X tink shun," which features puppets created by the Jim Henson Co. to teach children and adults about threatened wildlife.

* Frankie Avalon, Jay Black and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady stopped by Monsu (9th & Christian) Sunday night, after Jerry Blavat's Mother's Day concert at the Kimmel Center.

Avalon and Black performed, as did the Tymes, the Orlons, the Soul Survivors and the Planotones, minus frontman Kenny Vance, who was sick.

South Philly-raised Avalon came to town Thursday and hung out with the Geator over the weekend, dining at Monsu on Friday and at Positano Coast (212 Walnut) on Saturday.

* Shane Victorino was part of a large party for brunch Sunday at the Blue Bell Country Club, where he was happy to pose for pictures with other guests.

Magee event raises 200G

NBA Hall-of-Famer Billy Cunningham, 76ers President Rod Thorn, Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy and former Phillies manager Dallas Green took part in the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital's Night of Champions on Friday at the Sheetmetal Workers Union Hall (1301 S. Columbus).

Also in attendance were former Eagles Mike Mamula and John Spagnola; 610 WIP's Howard Eskin; attorney and former Magee patient Adam Taliaferro, who suffered a spinal-cord injury while playing football at Penn State and rehabbed at Magee; and Chuck Heater, Penn State and Temple football defensive coordinator.

It brought in about $200,000 for Magee's wheelchair sports, art therapy, horticultural therapy and other services.

Phillies' public-affairs director Scott Palmer emceed the event until he had to leave for the game, at which point Magee's VP of development, Mark Chilutti, took over host duties.

'Apprentice' dude's whiskey

Blue Bell-native Raj Bhakta, a former "Apprentice" castmate and state House candidate, has started a whiskey brand called WhistlePig , which was just approved for sale in Pennsylvania.

He's hosting a tasting from 5:30 to 7:30 tomorrow night at Commonwealth Proper (1732 Spruce), for which space is limited. RSVP to events@commonwealth proper.com to attend.

La Salle loves the Kennedys

Special Olympics chairman and CEO Tim Shriver receives an honorary doctoral degree at La Salle University's commencement ceremony Sunday, making him the third member of the Kennedy family to get an honorary degree at La Salle.

His father, Sargent Shriver, received an honorary doctoral degree in 1970, and in 1958 so did Tim's uncle, John F. Kennedy, then a U.S. senator.

Visit PhillyGossip.com for Dan's latest updates or follow PhillyGossip on Twitter. Have a tip? Call 215-854-5963, or email grossd@phillynews.com. For recent columns, visit www.philly.com/DanGross.

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