Like their basketball brethren on the court, the Atlanta Hawks marketing team knows how to pick up a ball and run with it.
Hence, Friday’s media day with Spirit the Hawk who became an instant ESPN SportsCenter highlights staple Wednesday night after he broke free from his handler at Philips Arena and took flight during the first quarter of Game Two of the playoffs against the Miami Heat. As Hawks fans will recall, the bird of prey had to be coaxed down from his lofty backboard vantage point.
First up Friday was a guest stint on WAGA-TV Fox 5’s “Good Day Atlanta.” And then, things got inexplicably weirder with radio appearances on The Regular Guys on Rock 100.5 FM and The Bert Show at Q100.
“Yeah, it really wasn’t about scheduling the interviews as much as it was about responding to the demand,” Hawks rep Kenan Woods told Buzz Friday. “We’ve been bombarded with media requests so we decided to get Spirit out there.”
The 10-year-old hawk has been flying out in Philips Arena to greet fans at tip off for four years. So why did he act out during Wednesday night’s game?
“I have no idea!” Woods said laughing. “I guess, you know, he got caught up in the excitement. He just wanted to say hi to the fans.”
Thankfully, the team has been notified by NBA officials that they won’t be fined for Spirit’s unexpected flight that temporarily ground the game to a halt.
And Spirit will be back for Game Five (albeit firmly tethered to his handler, we’re told). On Friday, those publicity-hogging pandas got some competition as well when there was an uptick in interest from visitors to Zoo Atlanta to see Spirit at his natural habitat.
Oh, and you can now follow the social network-savvy bird on Twitter at twitter.com/spiritthehawk.
On his Twitter bio page, Spirit pecks (with an ample assist from the humorous Hawks marketing department): “In light of recent national media attention, I felt the need to set the record straight, even though birds of prey aren’t known for their Tweeting.”
Spirit’s initial Tweets are similarly entertaining.
For example: “Man With Leather Glove gone. Watching game from Hawks backboard. Best nest in the house…wait. Game stopped. Everyone looking at me. Gotta go.” and “Looking back, for anyone who’s ever awoken to discover your antics on youtube, I feel you.”
At deadline Friday, Buzz was unable to confirm the bird’s upcoming manny and peddy salon session with “Britain’s Got Talent” singer Susan Boyle.
Local Dove Winners
The 40th Annual Gospel Music Dove Awards held Thursday night at Nashville’s legendary Grand Ole Opry was broadcast live on Atlanta’s Gospel Music Channel and included quite a number of winners with Georgia connections.
Tops on that particular list was Casting Crowns — McDonough Christian rockers — who won Group of the Year for the fifth year in a row; Christmas Album of the Year (“Peace On Earth”); and Short Form Music Video of the Year (“Slow Fade”).
Chris Tomlin’s “Hello Love” was named Praise & Worship Album of the Year. Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year went to Third Day and that same prize-winning “Revelation” disc picked up Recorded Music Packaging of the Year. And the Blind Boys of Alabama — which includes Atlanta drummer Ricky McKinnie — added Traditional Gospel Album of the Year (“Down in New Orleans”) to its haul of awards this year.
Quote of the Day
“I have to say, it was one of the easiest acting jobs I’ve ever had. You see, it’s just natural for me to stare seductively at a fat wad of money. I actually had to hold myself back from leaping on it.”
–– Comic actress Carolyn Hennesy on her popular new Geico Insurance TV commercial in which she plays a bored restaurant diner eating with her husband and being stared down by her potential savings sitting at the next table.
Songwriter Jerry Leiber is 76. Actor Al Pacino is 69. Singer Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA is 64. Actress Talia Shire is 63. Actress Renee Zellweger is 40. Actor Jason Lee (”My Name Is Earl,” “Almost Famous”) is 39. Singer Jacob Underwood (O-Town) is 29.
Contributing: Sonia Murray and news services.
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