Pardon the Interruption
|Pardon the Interruption|
Tony Reali (2001–2014)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||3,000+(as of August 15, 2014)|
|Production locations||Washington, D.C.|
|Running time||30 minutes|
+ ≈3 minutes (SportsCenter segment)
|Picture format||NTSC (2001–2010)|
HDTV 720p (2010–present)
|Original release||October 22, 2001 –|
|Related shows||The Sports Reporters|
Around the Horn
Pardon the Interruption (abbreviated PTI) is an American sports talk television show that airs weekdays on various ESPN TV channels. It is hosted by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon who discuss, and frequently argue over, the top stories of the day in "sports... and other stuff" (as Kornheiser put it in the show's original promo). Tony Reali also appeared as the statistician for thirteen years, correcting errors that Mike and Tony made.
Similar in format to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert's At the Movies, PTI is known for its humorous and often loud tone, as well as the "rundown" graphic which lists the topics yet to be discussed on the right-hand side of the screen. The show's popularity has led to the creation of similar shows on ESPN and similar segments on other series, and the rundown graphic has since been implemented on the morning editions of SportsCenter, among many imitators.
The show has emanated from Washington, D.C. since its debut, as both Kornheiser and Wilbon were writing for The Washington Post at the time. The pair's frequent arguments during their time at the Post are often cited (including by Wilbon himself) as both the antecedent and inspiration for PTI.
PTI debuted on October 22, 2001. The founding production team behind PTI includes Mark Shapiro, Erik Rydholm, Todd Mason, James Cohen, and Joseph Maar. The original deal was for two years with an option for a third. Originally, the show also aired Sunday evening, but this stint was short-lived.
Originally recorded at Atlantic Video's facilities in Washington, the show now occupies space at ABC News' Washington bureau. Voice actress Kat Cressida lends her voice to commercial bumpers for the series and has since its premiere. From the premiere of PTI until September 5, 2014, Tony Reali served as the show's statistician (earning him the nickname "Stat Boy") and eventually became a de facto co-host. Reali became the host of Around the Horn in 2004, but remained on PTI until 2014, when he relocated to New York City to work on Good Morning America while continuing as host of ATH.
Pardon the Interruption airs at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN, occasionally moving to ESPN2 in the event of live sports or breaking news coverage airing on the main channel. Replays also appear on ESPN2 or ESPNEWS at various times.
- In Canada, TSN airs the show live at 5:30 p.m ET. In 2011, the SportsCentre edition following PTI now features the final segment, but previously TSN did not air it. Tony acknowledged this frequently at the end of the show, often signing off while waving a Canadian flag.
- Since April 17, 2006, ESPN has also offered a free audio podcast which cuts out commercials and includes all segments. The podcast is usually made available two to three hours after its original telecast on ESPN.
- BT Sport ESPN airs the show across the UK in a late night slot, usually at 11:30 p.m. unless pre-empted by live sports coverage. It is also repeated during the following day at 7:30am.
- ESPN 3 Mexico, Central America & Caribbean airs PTI in original language at 10:00 p.m. (Central Mexico Time) from Monday to Friday. The show is not broadcast in any other part of Latin America.
- Since May 7, 2018, PTI started to be aired on ESPN 5, the sports block of Philippine-based TV channel and ESPN affiliate The 5 Network, on a delayed telecast basis. It is aired weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Philippine Standard Time.
Famous fans include Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, David Letterman, Tom Cotton, Hank Azaria, Chris Christie, Eric Stonestreet, Matthew Morrison, John Heilemann, Penny Marshall, Michael Kelly, Eva Longoria, John McCain, Tim Russert, and Maury Povich.
The October 24, 2011 episode featured a message from then-President Obama commemorating the tenth anniversary of the show. On July 12, 2013, Kornheiser, Wilbon, and Reali were guests at the White House. After lunch, the trio met in the Oval Office with Obama. Obama also provided taped congratulations on the show's 20th anniversary episode on October 22, 2021.
Pardon the Interruption is unique in its studio layout, featuring a "wall" full of cut-out cardboard heads of athletes and celebrities that have previously been used in the "Role Play" segment, bobblehead dolls of the show's hosts and Reali, Etch-A-Sketch art of Kornheiser and Wilbon, multiple penguins and several other toys and trinkets they have received, such as Kornheiser's beloved "Leg Lamp" from A Christmas Story, Stewie Griffin, and Elmo.
For different American holidays, the set will also be decorated with other props to match the theme of the day. For example, on Halloween, carved jack-o'-lanterns of the host's heads are also present. The color of the rundown graphic is also changed to mesh with the holiday theme (e.g. red, white, and blue to represent Independence Day, green for St. Patricks Day, red and green for Christmas).
On September 27, 2010, Pardon the Interruption and Around The Horn began broadcasting in high definition and moved from the Atlantic Video Washington complex to facilities in the ABC News Washington bureau, where high definition sets were built for both shows.
On January 20, 2020, the current set for Pardon the Interruption debuted. This was the first major upgrade to the PTI set in nearly a decade.
PTI is divided into several segments. It is not unusual for the last point or topic in each section to be about a non-sports-related pop-culture event. On rare occasions, the show will stray from its basic format, such as on August 9, 2005, when baseball commissioner Bud Selig was the guest at the very top of the show for an extended interview.
Other than the pop-culture topics, most topics discussed involve the Big Four of North American team sports: baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. Both hosts are avid fans of tennis, golf, and boxing and discuss events in those sports frequently. However, other sports such as soccer, mixed martial arts, auto racing, and figure skating receive much less coverage, and the hosts do little to hide their lack of interest or knowledge on those topics.
Int he show's original four-segment format; the segments included in the vast majority of shows are:
Segment 1: Introduction/Headlines
Kornheiser and Wilbon welcome viewers to the show with opening banter. Wilbon usually opens the show with the line, "Pardon the Interruption... but I'm Mike Wilbon", and then put a question to Kornheiser concerning one of the day's sports or pop culture issues (which he answers sarcastically). The two will then continue a conversation while the opening title card is shown. The theme song (as well as the commercial outro music) thematically references the song "Cut Your Hair" by Pavement. On rare occasions when more serious news will lead the discussion, such as the death of Junior Seau, the hosts will omit their typical intro banter.
Kornheiser then says "Welcome to 'PTI', boys and girls." Kornheiser then gives a brief introduction before moving on to the first topic. In this Segment, the hosts usually debate five or six topics which include the day's top sports stories. During the course of this segment, Wilbon and Kornheiser will alternate topic introductions up for debate. Each topic is listed in chronological order on the right side of the screen, and a countdown timer is shown indicating how much time is allotted to discuss a particular topic. Most topics are less than 1:30, but major news stories can run two or three minutes. Also, the hosts can briefly go over the time limit in order to make a final point about any particular topic. If there is no guest for "Five Good Minutes," three or four additional headlines will run during the second segment.
Segment 2: Five Good Minutes
Kornheiser and Wilbon interview a sports figure, writer, or analyst typically for a period of time from three to five and a half minutes. The interview itself is actually recorded prior to the rest of the show and then trimmed down for broadcast. According to PTI's remote producer, with some exceptions, guests are booked the day of the show as they try to obtain the most relevant news of the day. Other times, there are two "Five Good Minutes" segments with two different guests; there are also shows where two related guests appear during one segment, such as Joe Buck and Tim McCarver of Major League Baseball on Fox broadcasts (Another example of this was Al Michaels and Doc Rivers, when they appeared together while covering the 2004 NBA Finals for ABC Sports). There have also been occasions where Kornheiser or Wilbon, while on vacation or in another city to cover an event and not hosting the show, have been the subject of "Five Good Minutes" themselves.
Guests almost always appear from a separate location, usually the site of an upcoming game or their home city, appearing with the hosts via split screen. On a few occasions, the guest has appeared in studio with Kornheiser and Wilbon. This may be the case if the guest is an athlete or coach in Washington to play a game that night, such as when Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups appeared on February 6, 2009 prior to a game against the Washington Wizards. When this happens, the guest will sit on Wilbon's side of the table, sitting diagonally from Kornheiser.
On Thursdays during the football season, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, a former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback (a.k.a. "Jaws" and "the Polish Rifle" - the latter usually rendered in a Howard Cosell-like voice), is usually the guest. In the past, Jaworski would come on the show on Mondays to offer analysis of the previous day's games and a prediction for the Monday Night Football game that night.
On rare occasions, "Five Good Minutes" runs long, such as on June 8, 2005 when NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus's interview ran 11 minutes, forcing the cancellation of the following segment (Role Play), on March 23, 2007 when USC basketball coach Tim Floyd's interview ran 9 minutes as he talked about O. J. Mayo, and on October 22, 2009, as reporter Jackie MacMullan discussed the Magic Johnson/Isiah Thomas controversy, forcing the cancellation of the segment Report Card.
On very rare occasions, the second segment will be a bonus "game segment" (i.e. Oddsmakers, Toss Up, etc.), and the third segment will be a game segment as usual.
Segment 3 (various)
After "Five Good Minutes," or after extended "Headlines" if there is no guest, PTI uses a variety of different segments to talk about other sports news and make predictions. These featured segments often end with a pop culture topic. As of 2021, four such games remain in the rotation.
During Mail Time, the hosts read and respond to viewer e-mail that they take out of a talking mailbox. Early in PTI's run, an intern named Josh read the mail to the hosts. When the show changed over to the talking mailbox, Wilbon would express disgust at the mail voice, demanding it be omitted. The mail read on air is no longer written by viewers, but rather staff of the show itself.
For Toss Up, the two hosts choose between two sides of a topic announced by the producer, Erik Rydholm, over the loudspeaker, and Kornheiser always claims to be the winner.
What's The Word? (introduced in 2009) consists of Reali (later Rydholm) reading a partial sentence and the hosts using an adjective to fill the blank(s) in the sentence. The game often involves made up or hyphenated words, and usually ends with Kornheiser using an adjective to aggrandize himself or berate Wilbon, such as saying he won with a "Korn-ucopia" of words, or that Wilbon "got Wil-bombed."
Psychic Hotline sees the hosts answer questions read by staffers, presented as emanating from an on-set crystal ball. Kornheiser dons a stereotypical fortune-teller costume.
On the last show before Thanksgiving, the third segment is usually reserved for the hosts to reveal their choices for Turkeys of the Year, usually people during the last year that have usually done notably stupid acts un-befitting of sport (funny or unfunny). As noted by Wilbon at the beginning of the segment, there are no criteria for the selection process, meaning anyone they see fit is eligible. Over the years, the list has vastly expanded from five to numerous candidates being named during the segment.
Among games no longer regularly played:
Odds Makers, which is featured weekly and involves the hosts giving their prediction in the form of a percentage about the likeliness of a future event occurring. Reali gives the topics and keeps track of responses on a chalkboard, to which he refers at the end of the segment in order to declare a winner. A selection at either extreme of 100% or 0% is well-respected, with the latter being coined by Reali as "squadoosh". Kornheiser often gets his odds to add up to a certain number or form a pattern. "Odds Makers" is also noted for its feud between Reali and guest host Dan LeBatard, who is often accused of ruining the game.
Role Play, featured fairly often but less so than earlier in PTI's run, is referred to as "Heads on Sticks" because the hosts alternate speaking as a sports figure with the person's picture on a stick in front of their faces. After a picture is used, it is usually stuck somewhere in the background of the set until it is replaced. Recently, the sexual nature of the title of this segment has been noticed, as a suggestive musical cue leads the segment as well as Kornheiser telling Wilbon on the first Role Play "Wilbon will give, I will receive".
"Over/Under" is a segment that alternated weeks with Odds Makers when they were first introduced, but is now featured only occasionally. The hosts argue over whether a certain sports figure or team will go over or under a certain number (e.g. 40 home runs, 60 wins). Reali also announces the topics for this segment, holding cards up with the statistic, as well. In order to help prevent a "push" (a Wilbon trademark), a decimal figure is sometimes used (e.g. 2.5 touchdowns).
On July 30, 2009, another new segment debuted called "Report Card", in which the hosts assign letter grades to various events suggested by "Professor" Reali. Usually, Kornheiser's name is spelled "Tiny" instead of "Tony" on the Report Card board. Both "Word" and "Report Card" are now played on a fairly regular basis, with at least one of them appearing most weeks.
In Good Cop, Bad Cop, both hosts dress in police hats and sometimes sunglasses. This segment is featured rarely, and unlike Toss Up, the hosts must take an opposite stand on each topic, saying it is either good or bad. This segment is occasionally renamed "Good Elf, Bad Elf" for the holiday.
"Food Chain", where the hosts rank a top five list of teams, returned in December 2008 after a long absence. Kornheiser and Wilbon usually have variations in their lists, with Wilbon posting his as each team is introduced. Wilbon refers to his as "A real man's board!", but when Kornheiser switches to his, he claims, "That's it! That's the list!" Another early segment was called "Love Em or Leave Em" where a female voice cooing "Ooo La-La!" was played before the hosts discussed an individual (whose head was on a stick) they were either "leaving" or "loving" and keeping on their side. A third rare segment is "Fair or Foul". It was introduced on February 28, 2007 after the hosts began repeating the words "fair or foul" for a few episodes because of a viewer email including them earlier in the week. The hosts discuss a variety of topics and decide if each is fair or foul (acceptable or not). If a host believes a topic is "foul", he could threw a yellow football penalty flag and/or blow a whistle.
Additionally, during the early run of PTI, a "Doctors" segment was featured occasionally, in which the hosts had to choose which head to cut off and throw in the trash out of two that were stuck together. The hosts dressed up as doctors for this segment, using coats and assorted accessories. Finally, a "time-machine" game was played once in 2005 and never returned.
In "Too Soon?", Reali asks the hosts if it's too soon for a certain sports situation to possibly occur. In November 2010, a new game entitled "Something or Nothing?" was created. In this game, Reali asked Tony and Mike if a recent sports event was significant (Something) or insignificant (Nothing). After both hosts gave their answers, Reali, through uncertain logic, determined who was correct. "Too Soon" and "Something or Nothing" were played rarely. (In lieu of "Something or Nothing", the hosts will occasionally base a headline debate on whether a story is "a big deal, little deal, or no deal".)
Segment 4: Happy Time, et al.
The hosts send out a "Happy Birthday", a "Happy (or in some cases, Not-So-Happy) Anniversary" (generally something that happened on the same date in the past rather than an anniversary), and a "Happy Trails" (a departure of some sort, such as a firing, injury, retirement, or death. In the case of a death, it is a "Melancholy Happy Trails," and the background music is silenced in respect of the deceased).
If time allows, Reali (nicknamed "Stat Boy") corrects any factual errors that Kornheiser and Wilbon may have made.
From the start of the series until July 2005 and then again since August 2009, the show ends with the Big Finish, in which the hosts alternate quick thoughts about several additional topics, usually ending with Wilbon predicting the outcome of a game to be played that evening, while the clock counts down from roughly 90 seconds to the end of the show. The hosts give their standard signoffs:
TK: We're out of time; we'll try to do better next time. I'm Tony Kornheiser. MW: And I'm Mike Wilbon. Same time tomorrow/Have a great weekend, knuckleheads.
The half-hour broadcast concludes with Kornheiser waving a small Canadian flag while Wilbon mentions their podcast and pitches the show to the SportsCenter studio. According to Kornheiser, he first waved the flag and said "Goodnight, Canada" after an associate director told him that the additional PTI segment on SportsCenter did not air in Canada. Kornheiser made the routine into a trademark sign-off and continued even after TSN added the extra segment to its early-evening edition of SportsCenter. Kornheiser will often offer up a shout-out during the show's final seconds.
From July 25, 2005 through sometime in 2011, the format of the show was altered to merge the final part of the show with the beginning of the 6:00 p.m. ET SportsCenter.
Segment 4 would consist of Happy Time, followed by Errors, then the hosts giving shout-outs, as well as their recommendations for television viewing for the night as the last discussion segment of the show before SportsCenter. Wilbon usually chooses a sporting event, while Kornheiser will often opt for pop-culture based programming.
After the opening segment of SportsCenter (normally 10–14 minutes), PTI returned to debate an additional sports-related topic, then end with The Big Finish and the typical goodbyes. 
For the re-air on ESPN2, the show would move straight to the post-SportsCenter topic after the third commercial break, skipping segment 4. According to Nielsen ratings, PTI paired with Around the Horn combined to average more viewers than SportsCenter.
During football season, Monday editions of PTI used to air in the former (30-minute) format, with no shoutouts or SportsCenter segment. Until midway through the 2008 season the show also took place at the Monday Night Football host stadium as Kornheiser was a part of the Monday broadcast team; after that Kornheiser hosted from an undisclosed location in the host city while Wilbon hosted from the PTI studios in Washington. After Kornheiser's departure from Monday Night Football after the 2008 season PTI reverted to its normal format for the 2009 football season after the first week of Monday Night Football.
The show has since reverted to its original format where The Big Finish closes the show, though Kornheiser usually still offers shoutouts at the very end of the show. Wilbon and Kornheiser still have their additional debate as a part of SC, but it is no longer treated as a formal part of PTI.
Later Format Change
When ESPN reworked its daytime programming to have fewer (albeit longer) commercial breaks in the late 2010s, The show extended its first segment (Headlines) and last segment (Happy Time/Errors/Big Finish), allowing the hosts longer discussions. Segment 2 now consists of either More Headlines, 5 Good Minutes, or a game segment.
Beginning September 2, 2008 and for all shows except for those taped at the site of a Monday Night Football game, inserts of Kornheiser and Wilbon's discussion air for 15–20 seconds as bumpers between the commercial breaks of the show. One can see the two hosts having their makeup fixed and discussing everything from whom one has recently met to inside jokes between the hosts.
The longevity and popularity of the show has led to numerous running jokes between Wilbon and Kornheiser that longtime viewers will recognize. Some of these include such gags as The Bald Brotherhood, Blowed Out, (He's) Ya Boy, Beatdown!, Strugg-a-ling, The Yanks and the Sawks!, Choking Dawgs!, The Penguin Dance, Kornheiser's I-95 Bias, The Wilbon Power Rankings, Let Me Axe You Something, Uranus, Playoffs? Playoffs?, Ya Gotta Get Low, Bulls Corner, Drew Breeees, Washington "Natinals" (purposely mispronounced as such), Good Night Canada, Ball/Puck Night!, The Lig, Tony's "Population Theory", and The Trampoline Bear.
In addition, for the first 3½ years of the show, Kornheiser only hosted a few shows away from the studio, with Wilbon during the week of Super Bowl XXXVI. Meanwhile, Wilbon has hosted many shows at the location of a sporting event he was attending. This has resulted in much teasing of Kornheiser by Wilbon, including Kornheiser's fear of flying. Finally, on March 27, 2006, Kornheiser for the first time hosted the show away from the studio while Wilbon remained back at the set, as Kornheiser was in Orlando, Florida, covering the NFL owners meetings. For the first time in November 2006, Kornheiser and Wilbon "chatted split-screen" from two different locations away from Washington, D.C.
Usually during Report Card, Tony Kornheiser's name is spelled as "Tiny" instead of "Tony". Another common gag is during games such as Report Card and Odds Makers, Dan Le Batard's name will often be Don, rather than Dan.
PTI in other media
The short-lived CBS show Listen Up! was based on the life of Tony Kornheiser. In it, the main characters Tony Kleinman (Jason Alexander) and Bernie Widmer (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) co-hosted an off-beat sports show titled "Listen Up!" On the day Listen Up! debuted, Warner and Alexander appeared in character on PTI's intro.
On February 8, 2006, it was announced that Tony Kornheiser would join Mike Tirico and Joe Theismann in the broadcast booth during Monday Night Football beginning in the 2006 NFL season. Kornheiser continued to host PTI, and Wilbon joined him on the road as they broadcast PTI each Monday from the site of the MNF game, and there has also been an extra PTI segment inserted during halftime of ESPN's Monday night games (although in 2008, Wilbon stayed in the D.C. studios, on many Mondays).
Wilbon is a frequent guest on Kornheiser's eponymous podcast.
On October 30, 2010, SportsNation did their entire 1 hour show in the style of PTI. At the end of the show Tony Reali ripped the show in a 1-minute rant.
On February 18, 2012, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil featured Wilbon and Kornheiser as the local policemen with a nod to their good cop/bad cop PTI segment.
From 2011 to 2012, The Onion had a parody of PTI, "Get Out Of My Face" (aka "GOOMF").
Over the history of the series, more than 30 guest hosts have stepped in whenever Kornheiser or Wilbon (or both) was absent. As of 2021, the most frequently-used guest hosts are Frank Isola ("Fill-in Frank"), replacing Kornheiser, and Pablo S. Torre, replacing Wilbon. Israel Gutierrez and Mina Kimes have also guest-hosted in 2021.
Dan Le Batard of The Miami Herald (who was always introduced by his co-host of the day, and marked his first appearance on camera with a by now familiar "BAM!!") co-hosted frequently before launching his own ESPN series from the same production team, Highly Questionable., and occasionally afterwards as well.
Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe and ESPN's Around The Horn was another frequent fill-in. ATH panelists J. A. Adande, Kevin Blackistone, Tim Cowlishaw, Jay Mariotti, Jackie MacMullan, Bill Plaschke and Michael Smith have also all had stints as guest hosts.
Others appearing over the years include David Aldridge, Skip Bayless, Jay Bilas, Norman Chad, Mike Golic, Sally Jenkins, Max Kellerman, Tim Kurkjian, Patrick McEnroe, Rachel Nichols, Rick Reilly, Jon Saraceno, Bill Simmons, T.J. Simers, Dan Shaughnessy, Stephen A. Smith, Michele Tafoya, Mike Tirico, Bob Valvano, Ralph Wiley and Jason Whitlock.
Kornheiser was absent more than usual during Summer 2006 for medical reasons. During a phone interview on the August 15, 2006 edition of The Dan Patrick Show, Kornheiser explained this absence in most of July by revealing that he was recovering from skin cancer surgery.
Starting in the 2006 NFL season, Kornheiser and Wilbon began hosting PTI from the stadium that was hosting the Monday Night Football game. The following season, they began staging a live 3-topic, 3-minute version of the show during halftime of the game.
In 2004, Crackerjack Television started producing an Australian version of the show, which airs weekly on the Australian ESPN channel and features former Australian Rules footballer Sam Kekovich and radio and television broadcaster Russell Barwick. ESPN Australia also broadcasts the American version of PTI editions before SportsCenter.
The ESPN Deportes show Cronómetro (Spanish for "stopwatch") is modeled after PTI and Sports Reporters, in that it features personalities talking about sports subjects for a set amount of time. Unlike PTI, there are four panelists instead of two, and segments such as Role Play are not used. Five Good Minutes is used as a discussion of one subject between the four analysts. ESPN Brasil also has a version of Cronómetro called É Rapidinho (rough translation from Portuguese: "It's Fast").
NESN, in partnership with The Boston Globe, premiered Globe 10.0 in 2007, which airs at 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday. Hosted by Globe columnist Bob Ryan and a rotating cast of other sports writers, the show has ten topics that the two writers debate for one and a half minutes, in the same format as PTI (Ryan himself frequently fills-in on PTI on nights when Globe 10.0 doesn't air).
On March 25, 2008, SportsNet New York premiered two new half-hour shows, The Wheelhouse and Loud Mouths, which are similar to PTI and to each other, having two panelists debate sports topics. The Wheelhouse has a moderator and sports personalities as guests while Loud Mouths incorporates viewer calls and e-mails. These shows air every weekday at 5:30 and 6:00 p.m., respectively.
Prior to PTI, the Empire Sports Network had a similar show entitled Pros and Cons. Ed Kilgore (WGRZ-TV sports director, generally portraying an optimist) and Art Wander (then a sports talk host for WGR, portraying the antagonist or pessimist view) were the primary combatants, with former The Buffalo News columnist Larry Felser also on the panel. The program lasted from 1992 to 1996.
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