When 28-year-old Theo Epstein took over as general manager of the Boston Red Sox last week (the youngest GM in baseball history), showbiz mavens immediately seized on the fact that his grandfather is the late Philip Epstein.
Philip and his twin brother Julius were one of the great screenwriting teams in movie history; at their peak in 1944, they shared an Oscar for “Casablanca.”
Although Epstein has an extensive background in sports management, his showbiz ties won’t hurt in the new job.
Sports events on broadcast and cable TV “have to be entertainment events first” to lure the biggest viewership, says Neil Pilson, former prexy of CBS Sports. TV revenues have become vital to the health of a pro team.
The sports heads of the nets work closely with the top programming execs, Pilson says, so it’s no surprise that “people with entertainment in their genes are moving up in the world of sports.”
In addition to Epstein, Casey Wasserman (grandson of Universal’s late chairman Lew Wasserman) runs the L.A. Avengers arena football team and is involved in the move to get an NFL team in L.A.
One of the reasons that the sons of legendary showbiz figures may gravitate to sports, says Wasserman, “is that it’s difficult to follow in the footsteps of forebears that big.”
Wasserman says Epstein has a good shot at success because he’s too young to be jaded: “You can bet he’ll eat, sleep and breathe the Boston Red Sox.”