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NBC Meeting With Olbermann About Possible MSNBC Return

Jason Barrett

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The apex of MSNBC’s 19-year existence was arguably its run during the 2008 presidential campaign. Barack Obama was an electric, historic and therefore ratings-generating candidate. Sarah Palin–who joined the fray relatively late just three months before the election, served as the perfect foil for progressives. And leading the charge was the face of the network, Keith Theodore Olbermann.

But like many times and broadcast venues before, the former ESPN, Fox Sports and Current TV talent eventually wore out his welcome at MSNBC and the two parted ways in January of 2011. The network still enjoyed a successful 2012 fueled largely by the president’s successful re-election campaign, but then faltered badly during the following (non-election) year. Things got even worse in 2014 with the network falling behind CNN in the demo and into 3rd place, leading to the big changes we’ve seenfrom NBC News President Andy Lack this year…changes that include Ed Schultz gone (replaced by Chuck Todd), Al Sharpton to Sunday mornings and all opinion programming from 1:00 PM-5:00 PM EST eliminated for relatively traditional news (via Thomas Roberts and Kate Snow).

So now that afternoons are settled and with Lack basically confirming to Varietywhat was exclusively reported here last month regarding the likely expansion of Morning Joe (an additional hour extending to 10:00 AM EST), the last piece of the puzzle appears to be primetime. Note: 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM will remain safely in the hands of Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell, leaving 8:00 PM (All in with Chris Hayes) as the next possible timeslot for alteration. So with all of that said, a well-placed source now informs me that a meeting has been set between Olbermann and Lack to discuss his return to the network and his old 8:00 PM slot. This arrangement was something that Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell first wrote about as a rumor in July; when asked for comment, a network executive with knowledge close to the situation tells me, “It is patently untrue.”

Said source indicates the impetus for the conversation is to jumpstart sagging ratings under Hayes, which despite an Emmy win this year has been a consistent drag on the rest of primetime since launching on April Fools Day in 2013. At one point this year in May, the show averaged only 74k in the demo, making it the worst performing MSNBC program at 8:00 PM since 2005. And given Olbermann is now a free agent after leaving ESPN again in July (Note: on good terms if the company’s farewell statement is any indication), he appears to be the only remedy for Lack.

To read more of this article visit Mediaite where it was originally published

 

Sports TV News

Omaha Productions Building College Football Simulcast Around Pat McAfee

“Manning joked that the network doesn’t want McAfee. It wants Omaha Productions and Omaha wants McAfee.”

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ESPN is bringing its alternate broadcast strategy to college football. Peyton Manning appeared on The Pat McAfee Show Thursday to announce that McAfee and his crew would anchor six alternate broadcasts of major games for Omaha Productions on Saturday nights this season.

“We have officially agreed, alongside Omaha Productions, to simulcast six big-ass college football games this season,” McAfee said. “We will be on ESPN2. The main cast will be on ESPN. Omaha is obviously helping us along the way and we will be running it.”

McAfee said that when he was first approached by Manning he expressed shock that ESPN wanted him on the air. Manning joked that the network doesn’t want McAfee. It wants Omaha Productions and Omaha wants McAfee.

The shows have not yet been scheduled. Most games in college football’s power 5 conferences are not scheduled until the prior week. With the AP Top 25 and CFP Top 25 both changing regularly, they too will play a role in determining what goes into the primetime slot.

Pat McAfee and his crew will be live in their Indianapolis studio. The former punter at the West Virginia University said that the majority of people appearing on the alternate broadcast each week would be in studio, but there would be occasional guests.

“There’s gonna be give aways. There’s gonna be a lot of action I think during this,” he added.

Omaha Productions adds college football to the NFL and the US Open on its roster of alternate broadcasts. The company is also working on a future MMA alternate broadcast.

“I’m honored to be your teammate again, if you will,” Peyton Manning said in response to McAfee thanking him for the platform and opportunity. “You will kill this. You know this. Everybody is fired up to watch. I guarantee it!”

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Sports TV News

ESPN Announces Bill Walton ’30 for 30′ Documentary

The Basketball Hall of Famer is viewed as one of the more eccentric figures in sports history.

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ESPN Films announced Thursday that production has begun on a new 30 for 30 documentary focused on Bill Walton.

The Basketball Hall of Famer is viewed as one of the more eccentric figures in sports history. Combined with his basketball prowess in both college and the NBA, and his love of The Grateful Dead, politics and activism, Walton is often a divisive figure in the sports broadcast world.

ESPN says Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Artis Gilmore, World B. Free,  Robert Parish, Jim Gray, Luke Walton, Jamal Wilkes, Brent Musberger, and Bob Ryan have all been interview subjects for the story.

The documentary will be directed by Steve James, who also directed Hoop Dreams, as well as Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.

No release date was revealed by ESPN. Walton has worked as a college basketball color commentator for the network since 2012. He had previously worked on ESPN’s NBA coverage from 2002-2009.

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Sports TV News

Bob Costas Gets Choked Up While Telling a Vin Scully Story

“Just the pure love and connection was so touching,” Costas said.

Jordan Bondurant

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Bob Costas

The sports world was saddened to learn of broadcasting legend Vin Scully’s passing on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, tributes across sports media to the Dodgers icon came pouring in. Some could only hold in their emotions to the news but so well.

Bob Costas appeared on High Heat on MLB Network to remember his friend, and when talking about a particular memory that stood out in his mind, Costas got choked up.

The memory was from November 2016 when Scully received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then President Barack Obama. Costas said Scully invited him and his wife Jill to attend the ceremony at the White House.

After the ceremony, and following an interview for CBS Sunday Morning, Costas said something wonderful happened.

“When Vin Scully walked back out of the Rose Garden and back into the White House, the conductor of the Marine Corps Band spots him and immediately he cues the band to play Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” Costas said. “But then he hands Vin the baton and Vin steps up on the podium and he’s at least figuratively conducting the Marine Corps Band.”

Costas said Scully’s wife, Sandy, photographed the moment, and then Costas started tearing up.

“Just the pure love and connection was so touching,” Costas said.

In the moment, Costas caught himself and tried to regain his composure.

“I can’t believe I’m choking up,” he said. “You’re not supposed to do that. Be professional, Bob.”

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