CSN to air unprecedented, four-part documentary on "The Making of the LuvaBulls"

CSN to air unprecedented, four-part documentary on "The Making of the LuvaBulls"

The Making of the Luvabulls to premiere Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00 PM;

CSNChicago.com to provide additional web-exclusive content, including extended video clips
Chicago, IL (October 26, 2011) Beginning Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00 PM, Comcast SportsNet will debut a landmark, four-part, behind-the scenes documentary entitled The Making of the Luvabulls, chronicling the personal dreams, joy and heartbreak taken by over 200 Chicago area women vying for just 25 spots on one of the NBAs most prestigious dance teams.

With over 30 hours of exclusive footage shot over the course of four weeks, The Making of the Luvabulls (narrated by Comcast SportsNets Pat Boyle and produced by Sarah Lauch & Ryan McGuffey) will take viewers through the entire, never-before-seen process on exactly what it takes to make this team. From the initial mid-August tryouts featuring 200 hopefuls (which was immediately cut down to 47 in one day) -- to the grueling minicamp process that followed -- to the moment the official 25-girl roster was announced, Comcast SportsNet showcases the amazing athletic skills, along with the raw emotions of these determined women every step of the way.

Additional highlights from the four-part series include extensive interviewsbio features with numerous women on the 2011-12 Luvabulls dance team including former Miss Illinois Ashley Bond, Luvabulls Director Cathy Core, choreographer Kim Tyler, along with many other women who participated in the process -- including those who made the final cut -- and those who didnt. Viewers can also look forward to several Day in the Life segments, which follow the girls around for a day featuring candid interviews with their co-workers, roommates, friends and husbandsboyfriends. Plus -- Comcast SportsNet will also showcase an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the chaotic, yet ultimately sexy Luvabulls poster photo shoot.

We wanted to provide our viewers with an honest look at what it truly takes to become a member of the Luvabulls, not just from a physical standpoint, but also from a mental one as well, said Charlie Schumacher, Senior News Director for Comcast SportsNet Chicago. We captured so many euphoric moments, but also numerous moments of heartbreak. Most importantly, The Making of the Luvabulls showcases so many hard-working, determined women trying their best to make their dream come true.

Viewers are also urged to visit a special Making of the Luvabulls page set up on Comcast SportsNets newly-enhanced website, CSNChicago.com: CSNChicago.comluvabulls, which currently showcases the teaser trailer for the series, along with behind-the-scenes commentary from producers Lauch & McGuffey. This page will also include a Luvabulls photo slide show and web-exclusive video excerpts from the series that will not be shown on Comcast SportsNet. Fans can also visit the official Luvabulls page on Bulls.com.

Note the following episode-by-episode details and quotes for The Making of the Luvabulls, premiering Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00 PM only on Comcast SportsNet (schedule subject to change):

Episode 1: Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00 PM

(Additional replays: Fri, Nov. 4 at 12:30 PM & Sun, Nov. 6 at 9:30 PM)

Summary: The first episode takes a look back at the history of the Luvabulls, along with profiles of Director Cathy Core and choreographer Kim Tyler. Highlights include the initial tryouts featuring over 200 girls, with only 47 of them being asked to come back to the intense next phase of minicamp.

Episode 2: Wednesday, November 9 at 7:00 PM

(Additional replays: Fri, Nov. 11 at 12:30 PM & Sun, Nov. 13 at 9:30 PM)

Summary: Minicamp begins. Viewers will witness the physicalmental stress of a grueling choreography session that not only has to be learned quickly, but accurately. Additional highlights also take a break from camp with Day in the Life features with Ashley, Kafi and Jackie.

Episode 3: Tuesday, November 15 at 7:00 PM

(Additional replays: Fri, Nov. 18 at 3:00 PM, Sun, Nov. 20 at 2:00 PM & Thu, Nov. 24 at 8:00 PM)

Summary: As minicamp concludes following countless hours of intense choreography routines, the final 2011-12 Luvabulls team is selected. The emotional highs and lows from this episode are not to be missed.

Episode 4: Tuesday, November 22 at 7:00 PM

(Additional replays: Thu, Nov. 24 at 8:30 PM & Mon, Nov. 28 at 7:00 PM)

Summary: We go behind-the-scenes for the orchestrated chaos that is the always-popular Luvabulls poster shoot, plus now that the team is set, viewers will be treated to some additional practice footage that clearly indicates the pressure is now on for this years team to succeed.

QUOTES FROM THE MAKING OF THE LUVABULLS

"This is show business...they should come in knowing what they are getting in to. You see those veterans when they come in for their audition...I mean you cant touch them."

- Luvabulls Director Cathy Core on girls showing up to auditions

"It is a very difficult process and anybody that kind of makes it through that training process, kudos to you because I felt like it is one of the hardest things mentally, physically, that you will ever go through in life being challenged on both ends and have that balance to make it through to the other side."

- Luvabulls choreographer Kim Tyler on auditionsminicamp

"We look for a lot more than just a pretty face and a good dancer. We look for the whole package. Somebody who can speak in front of crowds and interact with CEOs and the community and really be a great representation for us and for the Bulls."

- Bulls Sr. Director of Game Operations Jeff Wohlschlaeger on what the team looks for in a Luvabull

"There are no guarantees. Every girl needs to try their hardest. You are just like a rookie. You have to learn the choreography, you have to stay on top of everything, you have to look like a Luvabull. As a leader, you have to be a leader."

- Erika, nine-year Luvabulls veteran

"I love this city. I love sports. I love the Bulls. It all ties together. It is just truly amazing and I feel blessed that I got chosen that first year."

- Ashley, five-year Luvabulls veteran

Bears face decisions on Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and 2017 roster

Bears face decisions on Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and 2017 roster

What we "knew" most about the 2016 Bears heading into the season is that, offensively, Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery would be the straws that stirred the offensive drink. 

Thanks to injuries, suspension and a perfect storm that resulted in a 3-13 season, the straw had a hole in it, the team still couldn't collectively close out games and a fifth-round rookie (Jordan Howard) and a second-year undrafted free agent (Cam Meredith) turned into the greatest causes for optimism on that side of the ball. 

The news that the team is shopping Cutler is hardly news-bulletin worthy. We've written about Cutler Fatigue here and discussed it on CSN's BearsTalk Podcasts for some time now. A breakup has seemed inevitable after eight years of .500 ball when he's been behind center. The tricky part is finding an alternative that would be a marked improvement for a coaching staff that might need to finish .500 to continue on the job in 2018. Yet that's the gamble that must be taken for a franchise that almost needs to move on, for better or worse, in order to find a way out of the muddy ditch it's found itself in.

Cutler must first be deemed healthy enough after labrum surgery on his throwing shoulder - something similar to what Buffalo did with Tyron Taylor this week following groin surgery. But Taylor might be a safer bet to stay with the Bills than Cutler is here. Those medicals might be out there already around the league if shopping has truly begun. And while a new destination for Cutler might not earn him the same salary (roughly $15 million) he'd make here, the thinking here is he'd prefer a fresh start just as much as the Bears want one. 

So let's go shopping.

Cleveland? No. 

San Francisco as a stopgap starter? Maybe. There's tons of salary cap space while a successor is groomed, and there's the Shanahan (Kyle/Mike) Factor. But more losing. 

How about Jacksonville to push his young clone, Blake Bortles? Perhaps. There's still a loaded, talented young defense that has yet to reach a promising ceiling, and a couple of talented receivers. 

The Los Angeles Rams could provide a push for Jared Goff (though it's hard not to see Goff being the starter, for better or worse). But if something should happen, Cutler would be ready, with Todd Gurley, what should be a respectable defense and a location close to where wife Kristin Cavallari can return to actressing. 

Jay in Buffalo? Good one! 

Arizona has already shot down interest. 

We don't see Denver wanting him back as they await Paxton Lynch's maturity with Trevor Siemian as a bridge. 

Reuniting with Adam Gase in Miami could be an option with Ryan Tannehill's health still a mystery. 

Then there's always Houston. I'm looking for Tony Romo's ultimate destination impacting Jay's. 

But retiring, as some reports this week suggested? No. Despite the public perception, Jay is a competitor, and I truly believe that still runs through him. He may not get to prove his reputation wrong before he retires, but despite what body language experts feel, I believe he'd still like to prove something. But I'm also not counting on any team giving up a draft pick for him. Teams know the Bears will release him, but if a club lower on the waiver claim wire truly desires him, Ryan Pace has squeezed something out from teams for his players on the discard pile before.

As for Jeffery, all remains quiet on the franchise tag front. The seal remains tight at Halas Hall over whether there have been any negotiations this past week, and if so, whether they've moved in a positive, long-term direction. 

Two things to keep in mind: the Bears did not tag him last year until the day before the deadline to do so. That deadline this year is March 1. The other is the fact that other teams in similar situations (such as Washington with Kirk Cousins and Kansas City with Eric Berry and Dontari Poe) have yet to make moves either, as that deadline looms. If the Bears determine they'll cut ties with Cutler, Eddie Royal and Lamarr Houston, that will free up another $24 million in cap space on top of the $60 million-plus they have already. Perhaps that factors into the decision on Jeffery, who'd get paid $17 million in 2017 under a second straight franchise tag for a team that needs play-makers and a coaching staff that needs wins next season. Letting him go would require attention and a portion of those dollars to replace him in the draft and/or free agency.

We leave all our internet/talk radio caller GM's with this question: Would you REALLY want to be in Ryan Pace's shoes this offseason? Can you be as shrewd, wise and run the table to the extent he must, especially at the most important, franchise-shaping position (which, granted, he's put on the back-burner his first two years)? And "get it right" to build momentum moving forward for a franchise that's reached the playoffs just once in the past decade? The rebuild remains substantial. And so are the decisions he faces in a crucial offseason.

Cubs eager to see the Jason Heyward relaunch in Cactus League

Cubs eager to see the Jason Heyward relaunch in Cactus League

MESA, Ariz. — Cactus League stats are supposed to be irrelevant, especially for the guy with the biggest contract in franchise history. Jason Heyward already built up a reservoir of goodwill as a former All Star, three-time Gold Glove defender and World Series champion. The intangibles got Heyward $184 million guaranteed, and the Cubs are hoping a new comfort level will lead to a Jon Lester effect in Year 2 of that megadeal.

But Heyward will still be one of the most scrutinized players in Mesa after an offseason overhaul that tried to recapture the rhythm and timing he felt with the 2012 Braves (27 homers) and break some of the bad habits that had slowly crept into his high-maintenance left-handed swing.

"If there's ever any doubt," Heyward said, "then you probably shouldn't be here."

Heyward will be batting leadoff and starting in right field on Saturday afternoon when the Cubs open their exhibition schedule with a split-squad game against the A's at Sloan Park. If Heyward has anything to prove this spring, it's "probably to himself, not to us," general manager Jed Hoyer said, backing a player who does the little things so well and commands respect throughout the clubhouse.

"There's going to be growing pains with making adjustments," Hoyer said. "He'll probably have some good days and some bad days. But I think the most important thing is that he feels comfortable and uses these five weeks to lock in and get ready for the Cardinals."

The Cubs are betting on Heyward's age (27), track record (three seasons where he showed up in the National League MVP voting), understanding of the strike zone (.346 career on-base percentage) and willingness to break down his swing this winter at the team's Arizona complex.

At the same time, Heyward realizes "it's just the offseason" and "a never-ending process in baseball." There are no sweeping conclusions to be made when the opposing starting pitcher showers, talks to the media and leaves the stadium before the game ends.

"I'm not sitting here telling you: 'Oh, I know for sure what's going to happen,'" Heyward said. "I don't know how it's going to go. But I know I did a damn good job of preparing for it."

[MORE CUBS: No hard feelings: Cubs and Pedro Strop look to future with contract extension]

Manager Joe Maddon — who gave Heyward nearly 600 plate appearances to figure it out during the regular season (.631 OPS) before turning him into a part-time outfielder in the playoffs (5-for-48) — usually thinks batting practice is overrated or a waste of time. But at 6-foot-5 — and with so much riding on an offensive resurgence — Heyward is hard to miss.

"I can see it's a lot freer and the ball's coming off hotter," Maddon said. "But it's all about game. I'm really eager for him, because everybody just talks about all the work he's done all winter.

"Conversationally with him, I sense or feel like he feels good about it and that he's kind of at a nice peaceful moment with himself. So it will be really fun to watch."

A 103-win season, an American League-style lineup that scored 808 runs, a new appreciation for defensive metrics and a professional attitude helped provide cover for Heyward, who largely escaped the wrath of Cubs fans with little patience for big-ticket free agents.

"Baseball is a game that's going to humble you every day," Heyward said. "You're going to fail more times than you succeed, so it's all about how you handle it, as an individual and as a group. We handled it the best out of anyone last year as a team. And that's why we were able to win the World Series.

"There's always things you feel like you need to work on. You can ask guys who had the best years — there's always something they're trying to improve on and something they don't feel great about at a certain point in time during the year.

"I just happened to have a little bit more breaking down to do. A lot of things allowed me to just kind of pause (and) look forward and not really think about trying to compete and win a game. Let's just get some work done."