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For FSN, Garnett deal a slam dunk

KEVIN GARNETT Scoring ratings points KEVIN GARNETT Scoring ratings points

Boston fans are understandably excited about Kevin Garnett coming to the Celtics.

But so are the folks at FSN New England, which carries the Celtics' games.

Dave Woodman, general manager of FSN, didn't mean to be effusive when the Celtics introduced the team's newest player, but he just couldn't help it and found himself shaking hands with and thanking the team's mascot for the acquisition.

"But, more importantly, I thanked [general manager] Danny Ainge and [managing partner] Wyc Grousbeck, because they're the key guys who made this happen," said Woodman.

"It's a good time to be a Celtics fan, over at the team and here," he added from the network's offices. "It's been exciting since the story broke. The press conference didn't start till 6:30, but we were on the air at 6 to cover the entire deal live. Comcast has acquired us, so we're going to be launching a lot of new programming."

The cable company assumed ownership of FSN July 1.

Woodman said the plan is to launch a lot of new sports coverage, and "of course, the Celtics are going to be a big part of that . . . we'll cover the Celtics on the court and behind the scenes in a much more in-depth way than we have before. I just don't have specifics yet, because it's so new."

Woodman expects the trade will translate into increased ratings. That has to be of concern to the folks at NESN, which broadcasts the Bruins, who have gained a new coach and goalie, neither of whom has the marquee appeal of Garnett.

"This is certainly a big boost to the franchise," said Woodman. "We've been the Celtics' television home for 26 years, so we've been at ground zero, the center of the universe for Celtics fans, for all that time, some years up, some years not so up, so now it's just taken on a whole different level because of the excitement."

The trade will give the Celtics some national television exposure, too.

ESPN and TNT, which aired no Boston games last season, have changed their outlooks. ESPN is televising seven Celtics games (including Garnett's return to Minnesota Feb. 8), and TNT is airing three games. The Celtics are shut out on ABC again, however.

Nation building?
There's no doubt that Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo do a great job broadcasting the Sox games on NESN, but we're going to be forced to turn in our Sox Nation membership if Remy doesn't stop harping that fans need to vote for a president of the Nation, or that he's hoping to open up a chapter in every city. Please, just call the balls and strikes . . . The update on WEEI's Gerry Callahan: The early-morning talk-show host, who's been out since the end of April after undergoing throat surgery, said in an e-mail that he hopes to be back "in a couple weeks" and that he actually misses getting up at 4 a.m. His contrarian point of view has been missing from the Michael Vick saga. OK, maybe not . . . "Sox Appeal," NESN's dating show, attracted more than a few viewers Wednesday night. It had a 6.5 rating, second best for the night in the Greater Boston area. It trailed only the Sox game, which had a 13.5 rating . . . Despite news coverage about cycling's doping problems, Versus garnered more viewers than ever for its coverage of this year's Tour de France. It reached 20.5 million households, more than any other year in the network's history, including Lance Armstrong's seventh consecutive win in 2005 . . . ESPN is producing a two-hour documentary on Bobby Valentine and Japanese baseball. Valentine is a former major league player and manager who is now manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines. Tentatively titled "Bobby V in Japan," the documentary is slated to air next spring. ESPN, which is said to have total access, "will provide a window into how the game can be different, and in some ways better, far from the American spotlight," said ESPN's Robert Wallace . . . Former NFL broadcaster Pat Summerall is getting back behind the microphone in September with a sports talk show on Modavox's VoiceAmerica Sports Network, a producer and distributor of online talk radio. Summerall, who called NFL games with John Madden for 22 years, will offer interviews and commentary.

Susan Bickelhaupt can be reached at