Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On The Air: Pardon the Interruption (2001)

ESPN's late-afternoon block stabilized 14 years ago with the launches of Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption, the latter best described as a sports fan's answer to CNN's now-defunct political debate series, Crossfire.

Washington based sportswriters Michael Wilbon, originally from Chicago, and Tony Kornheiser are the hosts, though each will take lengthy breaks for various reasons. In Wilbon's case, it often has to do with other ESPN-related duties, such as working NBA coverage. One hallmark of the series' long run is the often-goofy intros the two do. While Wilbon is serious, Kornheiser is a clown. I used to read Tony's columns in ESPN's monthly magazine when I had a subscription. He's just as funny on TV, although slightly more annoying. He must've taught Norman Chad everything he knows.

In case you wonder, Chad, a syndicated columnist, is also an ESPN employee, covering poker, and has guest-co-hosted PTI during its run. It can be said that Highly Questionable, originally named for its host, Miami Herald columnist Dan LeBatard, is a spin-off of PTI, based on LeBatard's frequent guest-hosting stints. He's another clown, and ten times moreso than Kornheiser.

PTI's early success also led to a TV show based on Kornheiser. Unfortunately, Listen Up, which paired Jason Alexander (ex-Seinfeld) with Malcolm-Jamal Warner (ex-The Cosby Show), bombed as a Monday entry on CBS in its lone season. The actors guested on PTI to promote Listen on its premiere night. Kornheiser briefly doubled up by working on Monday Night Football, but gave up that gig after 2 seasons.

Current Around the Horn moderator Tony Reali doubled as statistician on PTI until last year, when Horn relocated to New York from its Washington base. Reali has not been replaced on PTI, and perhaps that's for the better.

Here's a sample clip:

One wonders if Kornheiser had been a stand-up comic in his spare time.

Rating: A.

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