One of the things I asked Joe Buck about last week, as he geared up to the debut of his new HBO four-times-a-year sports talk show “Joe Buck Live” on Monday, was how he was going to handle the foul-language issue.
Meaning, on HBO, you can pretty much say what you want. It’s just a matter of whether you want to or not.
“I’ll let the guest do it, if they’re propelled to go that way,” said Buck, “but it would be a major mistake for me if I went into that category and used (foul) language just because we’re on HBO. I’ve build a reputation 15 years on the national level and the worst thing I could do is tear it down with that. I’ve been around microphones since I was age zero and it’s in my genetic code that when you’re around a mike, certain words don’t come up. If I’m on the golf course, it’s a different story. But I’m not here (on HBO) for that.”
Apparently, Artie Lange was.
The comedian who’s made his career on the Howard Stern radio show — and can do more of that kind of routine with looser restrictions put on Stern’s Sirius XM satellite deployment — went on a rant during the last part of Buck’s debut show Monday that included …. well, how do we describe it …?
A hostle takeover, is how Richard Sandomir put it in today’s New York Times (linked here). A “scatological, homophobic, insult act” complete with “a sort of blithe and gleeful explosiveness that threw Buck a bit.”
And the audience laughed. A lot.
And, so far, has caused enough buzz to make some remember how an indignant Buzz Bissinger hijacked one of Bob Costas’ HBO shows on sports and the media with his tirade against blogger Will Leitch last year.
The difference here, it seems, is that Lange didn’t have a particular target — just to promote himself and his act — and Buck, while maybe understanding that it affects the overall quality of the show, seems OK with the net result — more people are writing and talking about today.
“It’s cable,” Buck told the New York Times. “You can get away with it. … It’s an unfortunate thing that happened. But it’s live. If it were taped, nobody would have seen it.”
That’s the key: Live. (Even if it was tape-delayed here in L.A.-ville). And knowing that going in — that someone could take over at the expense of the host — is something Buck had to expect. And, in fact, almost hope happened.
Like when Magic Johnson accepted Howard Stern as a guest on his “Magic Hour” way back when. It drew the biggest ratings for a show that barely lasted a month. And there was no swearing involved there.
Think Jerry Springer without the cough button, and maybe that’s the direction Buck wants to take this thing. We’ll know when show No. 2 comes on in the third week of September.
It’s how the TV game works, friends. And why we just wasted the last 10 minutes reading and writing about it.
== From The Big League (linked here)
== From USA Today (linked here) on Lange being “mean spirited.”
== According to Broadcast & Cable magazine, Lange responded on Stern’s show Tuesday morning:
“And Ross Greenburg (the show’s producer), you mother f-cker, you came up to me and said, ‘If (fellow panelists) Paul (Rudd) and Jason (Sudeikis) get boring, you go nuts.’ So go f-ck yourself, I don’t care how important you are in this business.”
Lange did say that following the appearance: “(Buck) was very friendly to me afterwards.”