5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Lewis Lazare


5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Lewis Lazare

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications
CSNChicago.com Contributor

February 3, 2010

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weekveteran marketing journalist maven who covers the local happenings in the Chicago business landscape for the Chicago Sun-Timesa man known for his bow ties and dry withere are 5 Questions withLEWIS LAZARE!"

BIO: Lewis Lazare writes the Media and Marketing Mix column and popular blog for the Chicago Sun-Times and suntimes.com. He previously was a staff writer at the Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly newspaper where he created and wrote a column called Culture Club that covered the business of the arts in Chicago. Lazare also was an associate editor at Crain's Chicago Business, one of the first of the nation's city business newspapers. At Crain's, he covered the media and entertainment industries and wrote a column on advertising. He got his start in business reporting as a Chicago correspondent and critic for Variety, the trade newspaper famously known as the bible of show biz. Lazare graduated from Dartmouth College and received a Master of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

1) CSNChicago.com: Lewis, with the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, the focus isnt always on the game. For millions of viewers and the business world in general, a huge focus will once again be the great anticipation for this years array of Super Bowl ads. In your opinion, is the cost of a reported 2.5-2.8 million to advertise a :30 spot, which is actually down from 3 million a year ago, really worth it reach an audience these days? Longtime Super Bowl sponsor staples such as Pepsi have even declined to participate this year due to that enormously high price tag.

Lazare: It can be worth that much to buy into the Super Bowl, especially if youre a company that doesnt have a particularly high public profile and wants one fast. Another reason to buy in is to give a new product launch a big boost right out of the gate. But established companies like Pepsi that have been to the Super Bowl and done that many times, have decided that they can put the money to use more effectively in other ways.

2) CSNChicago.com: Since youre the man with the inside scoop of the ad world, have you seen any previews of this years batch of Super Bowl ads yet and whats the buzz this year on what we can expect from advertisers (same old, same old, or is there a knockout punch out there that we dont know about yet)?
Lazare: Yes, Ive seen work from several advertisers that will be in the big game this year, and more are being previewed each day now. Unfortunately, I havent seen anything yet that has hugely impressed me. But its still early. I must say, however, that Ive noted a sad decline in the level of creativity in much of the Super Bowl work in recent years. With the economic tough times, advertisers have bee more reluctant to spend big the past year in particular, which may make this yet another Super Bowl when we wont find much to wow us.

3) CSNChicago.com: Whats your personal favorite Super Bowl commercial of all-time? We wont be offended if you dont say its the Thanks Mean Joe Coca-Cola ad from 1979!

Lazare: After a while, even the great Super Bowl ads begin to blur in memory! But if pressed, Id pick two of relatively recent vintage as certainly among the best one deeply moving and another more lighthearted. I think the 2002 Budweiser commercial that showed the iconic Clydesdales bowing in respect to the victims of Sept. 11 was a great example of how advertising, at its best, has the concentrated power to touch us all. Advertising can also make us smile, as did the more recent 2008 Super Bowl spot from Coca-Cola that featured a giant Charlie Brown parade balloon proving victorious in a battle for an inflated Coke balloon floating over the concrete canyons of New York City. Wonderful story line. Great visuals. And most importantly, the perfect musical underscoring to set the tone for the whole delightful escapade.

4) CSNChicago.com: The state of Chicago radio has seen tremendous change over the past two years when it comes to talent-driven stations and shows. Do you think the days of on-air personalities making over a 1 million are officially over and, a follow-up question, what advice do you have for radio station managers in town to hold onto their audience going forward?

Lazare: Absolutely, the days of the 1 million talent are over. Even a lot of the talent that used to make those astronomical sums admit that. The economics of radio no longer allow for that kind of money to be paid. My advice would be for radio managers to make certain they know what they want their station to be and then be very smart about making sure everything about the station reflects and plays to that core essence.

5) CSNChicago.com: Finally, back to the Super Bowl, who are you picking to win the big game?

Lazare: Im going with the Indianapolis Colts. Its always fun to see a team like the New Orleans Saints finally make it to the big game. I know a lot of people will be rooting for them to do in Peyton Manning and the Colts. But when Manning is on, the Colts seem unbeatable. And I dont suspect Manning and his team will be in Miami to do anything but win.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything youd like to promote Lewis? CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it

Lazare: Just stay tuned for my big post-Super Bowl assessment of the best and worst ads seen during the game.

Lazare LINKS:

Chicago Sun-TimesLewis Lazare columns archive

Chicago Sun-TimesLazare Media and Marketing Mix blog

Lewis Lazare on Facebook

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Rookie Deiondre' Hall flashed in the preseason a year ago, leading the Bears coaching staff and fans to believe they found something amidst their trio of 2016 fourth round draft picks. 

He’s hoping to do the same this August after overcoming one physical hurdle, while waiting to see if he can get past a legal hurdle he created for himself.

Let’s start on the field, where, just days after his first NFL interception in the fourth game last season, he sustained an ankle injury in practice, sidelining him for two months. Once his walking boot and scooter were finally put away, he was active for the final four games. But what progress he’d been making on the field was difficult to recapture.

“Just coming off the injury, there was a little rust here and there, but the training staff here’s great and I had to push through it,” Hall said at last week’s minicamp in Lake Forest after he was one of numerous Bears hit by the injury bug, but not one of the 19 who wound up on Injured Reserve. “(I was) getting comfortable with the defense and in myself playing with those guys out there, getting the opportunity in the red zone and making plays. But the injury kinda sucked because I haven’t really had an opportunity to play since Week 5, so I’m not necessarily starting fresh.”

As the offseason unfolded, Hall was informed the coaching staff was going to try him at safety, if not permanently, then as an option for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Northern Iowa product. 

But Hall’s not totally foreign to the position. He was a free safety his first year in college, then transitioned to outside linebacker/nickel as a sophomore, moved to cornerback as a junior before breaking his hand his senior year, playing through it back where he started at safety. So the decision wasn’t a big deal, especially if it enhances his chances to get on the field. But his preference?

“Defense. Opportunity,” Hall responded. “You get in where you fit in and the more you can do, the better it is for the team. If opportunity presents itself at corner, then I’m at corner. But right now at safety, I’m making strides (there) and keep pushing for that.”

“We’re gonna float him back and forth,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last month, after the Bears signed free agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in the off-season, while Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc are expected to battle for slot duty and former first-rounder Kyle Fuller and veterans Johnthan Banks and B.W. Webb hope to impress. “He (Hall) had some experience there in college. When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

But before Hall gets back to work in Bourbonnais, he’ll find out if he has some other dues to pay. Hall was back at his alma mater’s Cedar Falls campus March 26th when he and a former UNI teammate were arrested outside a bar called Sharky’s. Police had responded to a call, and by the time all was said and done, Hall needed to be tased before being arrested on charges of public intoxication, interference (with an arrest), and disorderly conduct. 

The case was continued late last month and Hall’s jury trial is scheduled for July 11th. Pending the outcome, he could face disciplinary action from the team and the NFL. He’s told his side of the story to Bears management and while expressing remorse for putting himself in the situation, Hall says it wasn’t in character and feels confident in what the outcome will be.

“People make mistakes and the truth always comes out,” the 23-year-old said, adding the situation isn’t weighing on his mind or affected his preparation in off-season workouts. “You gotta let people make their own mistakes. I won’t shed light but the truth always comes out, and (I’ve learned) just don’t take anything for granted.”

“My main focus is football and keep pushing to make strides to become good, and great.”

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

When the Blackhawks found Artemi Panarin, they found a talent who was NHL ready from the start, who found instant chemistry with Patrick Kane and earned a Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. It was also a tremendous panacea for a team that couldn’t pull off a deal to keep Brandon Saad, who was the power forward that fit in beautifully in the Blackhawks’ top six.

On Friday, the Blackhawks brought Saad back and dealt Panarin to do it.   

Saad returns to the Blackhawks, who also acquire goaltender Anton Forsberg, in exchange for Panarin and Tyler Motte. The Blackhawks also get the Blue Jackets’ fifth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft and the Columbus gets Chicago’s sixth-round pick from this weekend’s draft. Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the deal. The Blackhawks inherit Saad’s deal, which has four years remaining at a $6 million cap hit. Panarin was about to enter his current deal, which is two years with a $6 million cap hit. This is key for the immediate future; when Panarin’s latest deal is up, if he keeps up at his current pace, he’ll likely sign for a lot more.

[MORE: Blackhawks deal Hjalmarsson to Arizona]

The Blackhawks have missed Saad terribly since his departure. The team has struggled to find consistent line mates with Jonathan Toews, especially at that left-wing position. They did fairly well with Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik flanking Toews this season but it wasn’t as strong as the Saad-Toews combination. So it looks like the Blackhawks’ top line will be solidified again.

Now, what about the second line? As good as Toews and Saad’s chemistry was, Panarin’s and Kane’s was dynamite. The two had their respective skill, which they flashed often, and their ability to read each other was evident from the start. The Blackhawks’ second line was as consistent and steady the past two seasons as the top line was during Saad’s time here.

So, there are changes. The Blackhawks will absolutely miss what Panarin brings. But as far as bringing back a former Blackhawks player who could help in the present, getting the 24-year-old Saad back will be very beneficial.