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SVP Discusses New SportsCenter

Jason Barrett

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Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick made hosting SportsCenter an art. Craig Kilborn used the gig as a stepping stone to late-night fame. And a multitude of other slick and quippy hosts have contributed to the sports vernacular over the years while describing home runs and slam dunks. But none of them were formally handed their very ownSportsCenter and instructed to have fun. Until now.

On Labor Day, the day before Stephen Colbert steps behind the Late Show desk, Scott Van Pelt gets the keys to a new midnight edition of SportsCenter as the network tries to make the special showcase a destination for sports-crazed viewers who’ve just finished watching the night’s big games. The 49-year-old Van Pelt has been with the network since 2001, anchoring SportsCenter and providing expertise in a wide array of sports coverage, especially golf. But while some of his ESPN peers have aggressively pursued the fame — or notoriety — that comes with clever catchphrases, hyperbole, and convenient contrarianism (read: trolling), Van Pelt has been a reliably thoughtful and reasonable figure on television and the radio, where he filled three hours of airtime every day with Ryen Russillo until recently. In that regard, Van Pelt might be the perfect guy for ESPN to entrust with bending the format of the show without breaking it.

The midnight show will have a slightly different look and feel, with Timbaland producing a special version of the SportsCenter theme to announce to viewers that Van Pelt’s isn’t the 11 p.m. or 1 a.m. edition of the sports-highlight show. Van Pelt spoke with EW about his new job and his mixed feelings about leaving radio. But before long, the conversation veered off topic and just became two guys talking about their favorite teams and their shared loathing of Jeffrey Maier, the New York fan who helped the Yankees beat the Orioles in 1996 when he interfered with a Derek Jeter fly ball that was subsequently ruled a home run.

“That’s as mad as I’ve ever been in my life at the outcome of a sporting event,” Van Pelt says. “I think I set a record for the most times the f-bomb was used in a newsroom setting. He later worked at ESPN! I think he had some internship. I remember saying after, and I wasn’t even kidding, I’m like, ‘It’s a good thing I didn’t run into that kid because I would’ve assaulted him.’ Good god. Sports in a nutshell. Here we are yelling at each other over this thing that happened 100 years ago. We’re all older than we used to be, but there’s just something about it. Things linger with you… the games are still interesting and they’re endlessly worth discussing and remembering. That’s the reason why we get to do a show at midnight.”

Van Pelt’s midnight SportsCenter just might be a conversation worth having.

To read the rest of the article, including the Q&A with VP, visit Entertainment Weekly where it was originally published

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Charles Barkley ‘Was so Mad’ at ESPN Coverage of LeBron James

“We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”

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When the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in the 47-year history of the franchise, ESPN showed the team’s celebration for all of four seconds. It then quickly switched to a shot of LeBron James, stoic but obviously disappointed, walking through the tunnel back to the Los Angeles Lakers locker room.

Tuesday on ESPN’s First Take, JJ Redick criticized the network’s NBA coverage for highlighting larger markets and a small faction of players considered to be “superstars.” There’s no way to tell if Charles Barkley was watching, but Redick’s point is one he agreed with.

That night on Inside the NBA, Barkley said he was annoyed with the amount of attention put on LeBron James after the game. He wanted to see the reactions of Nuggets stars Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and head coach Michael Malone to making the NBA Finals. Instead, he and other viewers were inundated with more content centered around the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I was so mad this morning I actually turned the TV off,” Barkley said last night on Inside the NBA, “because the Denver Nuggets sweep and get to the Finals for the first time. We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”

James, for the record, did not even say that he was seriously considering retiring. In a post-game press conference following the Lakers’ elimination, he said he “had a lot to think about” in the offseason.

The Walt Disney Company has reported its most-watched NBA playoffs on ESPN platforms in the last 11 years, according to data provided by Nielsen Media Research. The games have averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers, a 9% increase from the year prior. Moreover, Game 4 between the Nuggets and Lakers peaked at around 11.5 million viewers from the 11 to 11:15 p.m. EST quarter hour window, and averaged 8.2 million over the duration of the contest.

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ESPN Layoffs Resume, NFL & NBA Talent Likely To See Biggest Cuts

“The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning.”

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ESPN will look to slash $30 million in salary as The Walt Disney Company’s layoffs continue, with a majority of it coming from talent covering the NFL and NBA. The network’s goal is to have the layoffs completed by the end of June according to a report by Front Office Sports.

Through it all, Max Kellerman’s afternoon television show This Just In could be canceled in order to slot Pat McAfee’s show into the daily programming lineup. Kellerman’s show airs from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, meaning more moves could be on the way to hold McAfee’s statement that his show will air immediately following First Take, which concludes at noon.

Employee morale at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol is reportedly quite low, with people questioning why the company chose to pay McAfee and lay off a litany of its dedicated and longtime staffers.

The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning. More names are surely to follow as The Worldwide Leader looks to do its part to contribute to Disney cutting $5.5 billion in costs. The final round is expected to impact 2,500 employees in different areas of the company.

The company expects to report its own earnings for the first time this November, and sources have stated that the numbers will be impressive. Conducting the layoffs in separate rounds and saving on-air talent for last, however, has certainly played a role in public perception of the moves, and this week’s round will largely impact executives and other personnel behind the scenes.

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Eli Manning: ‘People Enjoy’ When ManningCast Has to Apologize for Language

“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The ManningCast on ESPN has become appointment viewing for select Monday Night Football games. Eli Manning loves the fun, laid-back nature of the show he and brother Peyton put on for fans.

But with live TV, sometimes unpredictable things happen, and sometimes people use profanity. Eli, speaking on Tuesday at the 4se sports and entertainment event in New York City, said viewers get a kick out of when the two let occasional profanities slip and have to scramble to say sorry.

“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests,” he said. “I feel like we’re apologizing for a lot of things on the show, but I guess people enjoy that part.”

Manning has said previously that the goal is for viewers to get the sense that Peyton and Eli are right there with them on their couch watching the game. Eli said it’s been fun getting to show some authenticity now that he’s retired.

“When I was playing, there was a conscious effort; I didn’t want either my fans or coaches to think I had a life outside of football,” he said. “Once I retired, I realized I didn’t have to hold back.”

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