Last month, when it was announced that Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner would receive the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award from ESPN, I surveyed the remarkable life of Ashe and noted:
It has to be said: bestowing this prize on the likes of Caitlyn Jenner—whose life is now a clanging carnival of self-promotion, gossip, publicity stunts and reality TV hucksterism— insults the memory of the truly courageous man for whom it is named.
But wait. Now, there’s more:
According to an insider, Jenner’s reps approached the network suggesting she receive the award — and offering PR plugs on her upcoming docuseries in return. According to an insider, negotiations started as Jenner’s publicist was finalizing the terms of her interview with Diane Sawyer. Her agents approached ESPN, which is owned by Disney like Sawyer’s ABC, “and they suggested that she receive the Arthur Ashe award,” the source claimed. “It was a brilliant move because the executives at ESPN loved the idea, and immediately began making sure it got done. Caitlyn’s journey to accepting the award will also be featured on her upcoming reality show, I am Cait.” “There was a hiccup during the talks about Caitlyn receiving the award, and her reps were prepared to pull her interview with Diane Sawyer if she didn’t get it,” the source said. “It was ironed out, and ABC owns one of the biggest stories of the year.”
Jenner’s publicist Alan Nierob called the report “utterly false” and ESPN has denied the report’s veracity. “That rumor is completely false,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said. “The Arthur Ashe Courage Award and ABC interview were never connected.”
Meanwhile, Jenner’s new TV show debuts on July 26—less than two weeks after the ESPY Awards. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.