Olbermann (TV series)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original run||August 26, 2013– present|
Olbermann is a television talk show hosted by Keith Olbermann on the American cable network ESPN2 that debuted on August 26, 2013. The show, originating from Times Square Studios in New York City (where it shares studio space with Nightline), provides insight, analysis, and opinions primarily on the major sports stories of the day, though it also covers other aspects of pop culture and current events. It airs weeknights at 11:00 p.m. ET, subject to possible delays and/or relocation to ESPNews depending on the length of live sports programming leading into the broadcast.
Olbermann marks the second tour of duty for Keith Olbermann with the ESPN organization, having served as a popular co-anchor (alongside Dan Patrick) of the main network's SportsCenter between 1992 and 1997; it's also Olbermann's second stint at ESPN's secondary network, ESPN2, where he briefly served as original anchor of the network's SportsNight in 1993-1994. In the decade before Olbermann's debut, Olbermann gained notice as an anchor/commentator on hard news and political discussion, serving as host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, which aired on MSNBC and, briefly, Current TV.
Since Olbermann's return to the ESPN family was formally announced in July 2013, much mention has been made in media coverage of the anchor's abrasive off-screen demeanor and his acrimonious partings with several of his previous employers, including his 1997 departure from ESPN. Both Olbermann and ESPN executives have reported "no friction" between them in the run-up to Olbermann's debut (ESPN VP/Programming Jamie Horowitz has noted Olbermann's openness to ideas and suggestions for the program); the anchor himself has owned up to his tempestuous past and his efforts to rebuild bridges with his old colleagues. Olbermann has also indicated he is happy returning to covering sports on a regular basis, telling The New York Times, "If you cover politics for eight years without interruption like I did, you need a change."
Olbermann features highlight packages (or "Keith-Lights") from the day in sports ("Just because I like doing highlights," Olbermann quips), as well as brief updates on off-field news. However, what differentiates the show from ESPN's prominent highlight-and-news show SportsCenter is what Olbermann describes as "an attempt to provide context and information and perspective that looks forward to the next day’s interpretations." Olbermann spends the first 10–15 minutes alone at the anchor desk commenting on that day's top sports story or hot topic, with guests invited on during the show to provide their own insights and opinions. Politics are not entirely off limits on Olbermann; rebuffing a report from The New York Times claiming that he was contractually forbidden from speaking about politics on the show, Olbermann said, "There’s nothing preventing me from doing it other than common sense," although he hinted that some aspects of politics would be covered if it crosses paths with the sports world.
In October 2013 Olbermann adopted a more rigid format. The opening monologue and format rundown have switched places, with Olbermann starting the show with the list of topics and introducing the program with "This is Olbermann and yes, I'm Olbermann." The featured guest segment for the evening was moved to later in the show.
Other recurring segments on Olbermann include:
- "Time Marches On" - a segment that originated on Countdown (where it was also known as "Oddball" during the show's MSNBC run) that features Olbermann presenting and commenting on footage of strange news and sports stories from around the world and the internet.
- "The Worst Persons in the Sports World" - another Countdown feature adjusted for the sports audience, this segment features Olbermann's "more gentle and sarcastic" criticisms (in comparison to the segment's sharp political tinge on Countdown) on people or organizations that have performed something egregious that sets them up for Olbermann's ridicule; three targets per night are featured, ranked "worse," "worser," and "worst" just as they were on Countdown.
- "This Week in Keith History" - an interlude that finds Olbermann providing amusing reactions to clips from his earlier ESPN stint that he has not seen in advance ("I haven't seen it, I don't know what it is, I didn't get a hint, and yes I did pay for that haircut"). This segment was only featured for the first two weeks of the show and has since been dropped.
Guest hosts will be an occasional part of Olbermann, and the two primary substitutes are Colin Cowherd and Jeremy Schaap. These were initially done out of necessity due to Olbermann's previously announced commitment to anchor Turner Sports' coverage of the Major League Baseball postseason in October 2013. During the hiatus Larry King also guest hosted for one week. When Cowherd or Schaap guest hosts the format for the show is largely scrapped; Cowherd has his own closing segment specifically designed for him where he gives his opinion on which sports figures it is a "good day" to be and which it is a "bad day" to be.
- "Olbermann Returning to ESPN2 with Daily Late-Night Show Aug. 26". ESPN Media Zone. 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
- "Keith Olbermann Finalizes Deal With ESPN," from Hollywood Reporter, 7/16/2013
- "Olbermann Set to Return to ESPN and Sports News," from The New York Times, 8/25/2013
- "Keith Olbermann Defaces A-Rod; Reveals Apologies, Drama Behind ESPN Return," from Hollywood Reporter, 8/23/2013
- Miller, James Andrew (2013-07-17). "Olbermann Will Return to ESPN". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
- Pierce, Scott D. (July 25, 2013), "Keith Olbermann promises no politics on his new ESPN2 show", The Salt Lake Tribune, archived from the original on July 29, 2013, retrieved July 29, 2013
- "Keith Olbermann Returning To TV On Turner," from The Hollywood Reporter, 6/5/2013
- "Larry King to Guest-Host 'Olbermann,'" from The Hollywood Reporter, 9/26/2013
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