More from Dan Patrick (from the previous blog entry, linked here) on his syndicated radio and TV show this morning, in light of what could be coming out of the new book, “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, what has already been revealed in a GQ excerpt, and what probably wasn’t included in the 1997 book that he and Keith Olbermann wrote capitalizing the success of their partnership at the net:
On the Keith Olbermann information released:
“Everything I read on Keith’s story and how people viewed him was accurate … There was stuff I didn’t know first-hand, but I was aware of second- and third-hand. …
“But what stood out was that on one hand, you have the brilliance of Keith. What he could do and bring to a show. But you also had the other side … what he can bring to a show that can bring it down. You end up at the end of the day almost even. Keith was great on TV. I thought he changed ‘SportsCenter’ and changed sportscasting but then he got off the air and you had to deal with all the other things there.
“A lot of jealousy went on there. A lot. The 6 p.m. Eastern show, a lot of jealousy with the 11 o’clock show. Because we were 11, and we didn’t know who was watching. There never released any ratings. Which I found interesting in the (excerpt), John Walsh, the former boss, said the ratings went up after Keith left – that’s interesting because we never got to see any ratings when we were there. And then all the sudden the ratings became important?
“They wanted Keith out. They were looking for an exit strategy and they got it. They made it so Keith would want to leave.
“There was a lot of jealousy. A lot of back-biting. A lot of people respected Keith, but disliked Keith. They didn’t like the person, but as far as on the air, they knew what they were seeing was something completely different.
“I was sort of a liaison, a mediator. Management was afraid of him. They’d come to me and say, ‘Can you ask Keith if …’ And I’d say, ‘That’s not my job.’ But the last 18 months (of Keith’s time at ESPN), that’s all I did. I’d have to put out the fires.”
On Olbermann’s departure – whether he decided to go, or his contract wasn’t renewed, as ESPN management says:
“Management was never pro-talent there at ESPN. It’s always about producers and coordinating producers. They didn’t care about the talent. They thought talent’s interchangeable. Now they’re finding out the hard way that’s not the case.
“But they would have kept Keith, but he needed to be a better employee. Keith realized, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore,’ and that was it. He was gone. So I’d say that went hand in hand. Management didn’t want him, but if he was going to stay, he was still good TV. But Keith pushed it first and they said, ‘Yeah, don’t let the door hit you …’”
On the grind at working at ESPN:
“(Keith) outgrew it. We’d do five nights a week, an hour of live TV, 90 minutes no Sundays. It was a grind and management never, ever embraced us. Ever. I don’t care what they say. They never did.
“And we called (the 11 p.m. ‘SportsCenter’) the ‘Big Show’ because we laughed at it. We didn’t know if anybody watched. So the 6 p.m. ‘SportsCenter’ (anchors) – Bob Ley, Charley Steiner, Robin Roberts – they were like – ‘Who are they to call it the Big Show?’ Dude, we were mocking ourselves.
“And that’s when we got yelled at – ‘You will not call it the Big Show, you will say, “This is SportsCenter.” And that’s how the ad campaign was hatched. Because we’d go to a commercial break: ‘And the Brewers beat the Indians, 4-2, and THIS IS SPORTSCENTER.’ Because it was Keith’s way of saying, ‘F-you.’”
Another background story about Olbermann:
“I don’t know if it’ll come out in the book, but we used to have a boss, Bobby. Very nice man. News background. And Keith always mocked him with his voice. Bobby would walk into the newsroom and go (in a high, girlish voice) ‘Helllooooo!’ So Keith hated management anyways. He just didn’t trust him, which, you know, there’s reason for that for some of those guys. But here’s Bobby, he meant well, a very nice man, but … ‘Helllloooo!’ and that was it, he’d just sort of shuffle around the news room and go back into his office.
“So Keith goes one night – somebody makes an error (on a highlight clip) and he goes, ‘Hellllooooo!’ on the air. And I went, ‘Holy … did you …?’
“But there were so many inside jokes. You had to do it or else you’d go crazy there. So he did that and I don’t know how long it took for poor Bobby to realize that ‘hellloooo!’ was now a catchphrase.”
On whether he’d ever agree to return to do a “SportsCenter” for an anniversary show:
“I love it there. But I’ve separated. Thank God I separated for my reasons. But you know, what wonderful people, wonderful place, thank God I did that or I wouldn’t be here. But I don’t want anything left to do with that.
“The older we got the better we were. Because they certainly didn’t fawn all over us back then.”