So — not that anyone really has been asking — but whatever happened to Roy Firestone?
It’s a story we’ve considered pursuing the last few years. For some reason or another, found something better to write about. Not better, as in content. But better, in that, we sort of knew the answer, and weren’t that compelled to let you know about it.
We’d see some ads in our own paper publicizing a show he was doing somewhere, and someone would say, “Let’s go down and see it!”
So, again, what’s he been up to? Sports Illustrated to the rescue, in its latest edition.
Time was, you couldn’t get enough of “Mr. Saturday Afternoon” — the nickname I gave him once upon a time. Not quite up to the Billy Crystal character in the movie “Mr. Saturday Night,” but an incredible simulation.
The longtime Encino resident turned his sportscasting career into that of a smaltzy nightclub performer, very self-indulgent. He reinvented himself into some kind of pre-karaoke singer mixed in with impressions, stories about himself and motivational talks to corporations looking for a “sports guy” who could really entertain their employees.
“Roy Firestone is one of the nation’s most sought after live corporate performers, keynote speakers and lecturers.” It says so on his website.
He made it work. Somehow. And still does. Somehow.
Roy, roy, roy ….
(It also begs the question: Whatever happened to Joe Piscopo?)
Stop your crying, Rod Tidwell. Show me the current issue of SI.
The latest “Where Are They Now?” issue includes a piece by Lee Jenkins on how it’s a crying shame that Firestone doesn’t have an interview show any more.
And Roy, it seems, wants to get back into the game. He wants his own sports show again. He says so, not so subtly, in the story — which also mentions that his youngest son plays basketball at Harvard-Westlake.
Writes Jenkins: “He was a creation of the explosion in sports media and a casualty of it. While in the ’80s fans were still being introduced to players as people, by the mid-’90s there was a sense we knew it all …. That Firestone wants a show and does not have one is less a statement about him than about the industry. Despite the overwhelming demand for access to athletes, no long-form sports interview show exists anymore.”
The former KCBS-Channel 2 sports anchor (’77-’85), overlapping with 10 years on ESPN’s “Up Close” (’80-’90), where he interviewed about 5,000 athletes — many of which can be seen on ESPN Classic’s “Up Close Classics.” He also had that time on the USA Network with “Sports Look,” which we can even remember Ira Fistel contributing.
Remember when Firestone was actually a game analyst on ESPN “Sunday Night Football” in the late ’80s? Us neither.
If you have an iPad with the SI “Inside Report,” you can watch anchor Maggie Gray interview Firestone “about his life and legacy,” according to the SI release.
Legacy? That might be two books he’s written and a CD he’s produced as well.
Easier to access, if you miss him that much, he’s got his own website (linked here, with a creepy intro), which reveals he has a performance on Aug. 18, 8 p.m., at the Typhoon Restaurant at the Santa Monica Airport.
And seriously, click on the music and books link and there are 10 songs you can hear Roy sing. Not karaoke. Like “Whenever You Call Me, I’ll Be There … I’ll Be Around.”
Yup, he’s around. Just call him. Please.
Now, it’s on to flipping over in the SI issue to the story about the 30th anniversary of “Caddyshack.”