Series DVD Cover
|Created by||Robert Wuhl|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||80|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Tollin/Robbins Productions
HBO Original Programming
CBS Television Distribution (2008-present, non-USA)
|Original channel||Home Box Office|
|Original run||August 10, 1996– September 8, 2002|
- Arliss starred Robert Wuhl, who also produced the show, as Arliss Michaels, the president of a sports agency who tries to cater to his clients' every need as best he can.
- Sandra Oh plays Rita Wu, Arliss's personal assistant.
- Jim Turner plays Kirby Carlisle, a middle-aged, ex-football star.
- Michael Boatman plays Stanley Babson, a conservative financial advisor.
Notable guest stars
Nearly every episode includes one or more notable personalities, primarily from the sports industry (such as athletes, coaches, and broadcasters), appearing as themselves. Oscar-winning actor James Coburn's 2002 appearance in the episode "The Immortal" was his last television performance before his fatal heart attack in 2002.
- Bob Costas (1996–2001) (5 episodes)
- Van Earl Wright (1997–2002) (4 episodes)
- Jerry Jones (1996–2000) (3 episodes)
- Jim Lampley (1996–1999) (3 episodes)
- Tommy Lasorda (1996–2000) (3 episodes)
- Jeremy Roenick (2000–2002) (3 episodes)
- Jamal Anderson (1999, 2000)
- Bob Arum (1997, 1999)
- Chris Berman (1997, 1999)
- Al Bernstein (1996, 1999)
- Barry Bonds (1996, 1997)
- Gary Carter (2001)
- Roger Clemens (1997, 1999)
- Norm Crosby (1997, 2001)
- Oscar de la Hoya (1998, 1999)
- Marshall Faulk (2000, 2001)
- Ken Griffey, Jr. (1999)
- Jim Hill (1996, 1999)
- Roy Jones Jr. (2000, 2002)
- Eric Karros (1997, 1999)
- Larry King (1997, 2002)
- Jeanette Lee (1997, 2000)
- Al Michaels (1996, 1998)
- Gary Miller (2000, 2001)
- Jon Miller (1997, 2000)
- Chris Myers (1996, 1999)
- Pat O'Brien (2000, 2001)
- Shaquille O'Neal (1996, 2001)
- Andre Rison (1998)
- Curt Schilling (1998, 2002)
- Stuart Scott (1999, 2000)
- Robert Shapiro (1996, 2000)
- Bruce Smith (1997, 2000)
- Ozzie Smith (1997, 1998)
- George M. Steinbrenner III (1999)
- Katarina Witt (1997, 1998)
- Dave Winfield (1998, 2000)
Arliss on other programs
In July 1999, Wuhl also appeared on World Championship Wrestling's Monday Nitro as a guest announcer. Joining Scott Hudson and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Robert did not appear as himself but was named as Arliss and acted in character. He announced that "the WCW" (sic) would appear on Arliss because none of the Big Three networks would have WCW. Arliss stayed in character on color commentary as Randy Savage, Gorgeous George, and Miss Madness walked to the ring. Arliss said he was scouting Dennis Rodman, who was doing his third stint with the company. Wuhl appeared for cross-promotion as WCW was owned by Time Warner (and Nitro aired on TNT), as was HBO. In the Arliss episode entitled "To Thy Own Self Be True", WCW creative head Eric Bischoff guest stars along with wrestlers Lex Luger, Randy Savage and Gorgeous George.
|“||You know the feeling. Someone's about to tell a joke, and you panic. What if you start laughing? Lots of us experience slight loss of bladder control. An embarrassing accident can happen any time. Sometimes, just when laughing. That's why I watch Arliss on HBO Comedy. It's nice to know that, every weekday at midnight, I can sit down with Robert Wuhl and the gang at Arliss Michaels Sports Management, and, a half-hour later, my drawers will be as dry as a bone. And now I know I'll be able to get 100% bladder control whenever I'm feeling insecure. Because all seven seasons of Arliss are now available on DVD. That's over forty hours of keep-your-pants-dry entertainment! So, don't let slight loss of bladder control cramp your style. Watch Arliss, and take back your life. Ask your doctor if Arliss is right for you. Side effects may include nausea, depression, and slight sexual dysfunction.||”|
In the October 4th, 2012 episode of 30 Rock, "The Beginning of the End," Kenneth says, in response to Tracy Jordan's marriage having lasted for over 20 years, "That's half as long as it felt Arliss was on TV!"
This show, which ran for seven seasons, is a prime example of how HBO differs from traditional networks due to its nature as a network its viewers specifically pay to be able to watch. Arliss was cited by so many viewers as the sole reason that they paid for the network that its relatively small fan base was able to keep the show on the air for a lengthy run. Entertainment Weekly consistently referred to it as one of the worst shows on television. The show frequently used obscure sports references, making the humor something only die-hard sports fans could appreciate. ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons repeatedly wrote about how awful he felt the show was, often holding it up as Exhibit A in what he saw as the terrible state of sports shows on TV. Simmons also noted that HBO was forced to reschedule the show because it wasn't able to hold enough viewers before Six Feet Under. Simmons' viewpoint notwithstanding, his employer acquired rights to air Arli$$ in reruns on ESPN Classic.
- "Saturday Night Live Transcripts". Saturday Night Live. Season 28. Episode 2. 12 October 2002. NBC.
- "TV 101: They're Not TV Numbers. They're HBO Numbers. - Tuned In - TV Blog - Television Reviews - James Poniewozik - TIME". TIME. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
- "EW's Ken Tucker names 2002's 5 worst TV shows – Arli$ – Television Commentary – TV – Entertainment Weekly".[dead link]