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Jay-Z Tells TNT’s Hoops Tale

Turner Network Television will turn to hip-hop star Jay-Z to tout its upcoming slate of exclusive Thursday night National Basketball Association games, and also turn some commercial control over to a number of the league’s top stars.

Jay-Z will create exclusive spots that will not only promote the upcoming 2006-07 NBA season on TNT, but also the rapper’s new album, Kingdom Come, set to be released Nov. 21.

Part of TNT’s ongoing “Let the Truth Be Told” marketing campaign, the eight 30-second spots, which begin airing Oct. 3, show Jay-Z sharing his “truths” during a interview focusing on core themes such as competition, talent, stardom and legacy, during a limousine ride through the streets of New York City. The network also will make an extended director’s cut of the interview available exclusively on its “TNT OverTime” broadband site on

“The new approach to our NBA on TNT promo series is dramatic, smart and provocative,” said Turner Sports creative director Craig Barry. “Using Jay-Z’s own words and powerhouse persona, we wanted to showcase his sophisticated style to parallel the tenets of sports and music.”

He also said the use of entertainers like Jay Z and Ali G, a comedian that TNT used in last year’s NBA spots, allows the network to reach out beyond traditional fans in an effort to draw in new viewers.

Additional campaign promos will feature spots created by such NBA players as Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Ben Wallace. The spots will allow each player to create their own images and scripts for the commercials.

Barry said the players were very enthusiastic about having some creative input into the spots in which they appear.

“For the most part, the players would give us a concept about what they thought about the league or how they saw life in the NBA,” Barry said. “We came back and wrote the creative and gave them a number of different options to choose from before we produced the spot.”

While TNT will run the spots in heavy rotation leading up to its Oct. 31 debut of its regular season NBA telecasts, Barry said the players will have the opportunity to make commercials throughout the season.

“This hasn’t been done before, so I think the players are having a good time coming up with different ideas and concepts,” he said.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.