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Firestone Lands Knockout With Tyson

Sports Weekend | TV-RADIO

December 18, 1998|LARRY STEWART

Roy Firestone has done nine in-depth interviews with Mike Tyson, most recently one in Phoenix this week that will be shown on ESPN tonight, 7:30-8.

"You can say a lot of things about Tyson, but one thing for sure, he is not a phony," Firestone said after returning home to Toluca Lake. "What you see is what you get. He's not concerned about how he comes across."

No question about that.

Asked by Firestone about having to register as a sex offender in a sheriff's office, Tyson says, "I don't get embarrassed. I have no dignity in that perspective. . . . There is nothing but ladies in the sheriff's office. So the lady said, 'What did you get convicted for to be here?' I said, 'Rape.' . . . I said, 'It's rape. They said I raped somebody.'

"Afterward, all the ladies came and hugged me and kissed me. I signed their autographs.

"Anybody that's a sophisticated adult and they've seen the situation that's happened, they know that's bull. . . . Yeah, I raped her. Give me a break, OK."

Tyson, calling Evander Holyfield "the royal Christian" and "Moses," claims Holyfield trained to butt him.

Of his psychological treatment, Tyson says, "In all actuality, I'm very fragile. And that's why I strike out so much, because I'm fragile and easily hurt."

AN 'UP CLOSE' LOOK

There is speculation that Firestone, after a four-year absence, may return to his role as host of the daily "Up Close" show now that Chris Myers has departed.

"I don't mean to be evasive, but all it is is speculation," Firestone said. "I haven't called anyone at ESPN to talk about it and no one has called me."

Firestone's contract expires Dec. 31 and the topic figures to come up during negotiations.

Meanwhile, ESPN continues to try people out for the job. Sean Salisbury concludes a successful two-week run today with Tony Gwynn. Salisbury was particularly good Wednesday with John Robinson.

Matt Johnson, Salisbury's teammate and roommate at USC, says, "Football was a detour from what Sean was really meant to do, which is broadcasting."

Andrea Kremer gets another shot on "Up Close" next week. A decision on a permanent host is expected to be made next month. Our guess is that it will be Firestone.

THE SPARK IS GONE

Just when we were starting to get used to Sparky Anderson, Disney has dumped him from the Angel telecasts on Fox Sports West.

And what was wrong with Jerry Reuss on the Channel 9 telecasts? Reuss is also gone.

Their replacement, former Angel Rex Hudler, may turn out to be an excellent commentator--he's always entertaining on the "Jim Rome Show"--but word is both Fox Sports West and Channel 9 executives were not pleased that their hand-picked guys were let go.

Anderson and Reuss were classy about it. Anderson said he understood because Disney wanted one commentator for both outlets and he wouldn't travel. Reuss said, "What I'll miss most is working with Steve Physioc and the crew."

Disney planned to announce the change next week, but Hudler mentioned it as a guest on Rome's show Wednesday.

SHORT WAVES

CBS has continually reduced George Seifert's role on "The NFL Today," and now he is on hiatus until the playoffs. It seems CBS is convinced he is going back to coaching. . . . Although ABC isn't saying anything, there seems to be some substance to rumors that Sterling Sharpe will replace Dan Dierdorf in the "Monday Night Football" booth next season. . . . After Denver and Miami lost Sunday, Al Michaels and crew were having a tough time last Monday promoting this Monday's game, which otherwise would have been huge. Dierdorf resorted to saying, "It's a rare opportunity to see John Elway and Dan Marino lock horns."

The ninth ARETE Awards for Courage in Sports, taped Nov. 4 in Chicago, will be on ESPN Monday, 7-8 p.m. In a particularly emotional moment, Al Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee accept the ARETE Life Award in honor of Florence Griffith Joyner's memory. Among the other honorees are Casey Cook of Ventura, a blind and partially deaf triathlete, and distance runner Paul Reese, 81, a cancer survivor. . . . The long-running Chicago show, "Sportswriters on TV," is about to go off the air because of the lack of a major sponsor.

RADIO DAZE

Steve Mason's last day at KXTA (1150) was Wednesday. Dodger public relations director Derrick Hall, who dabbled in radio at Arizona State, has joined John Ireland for a two-day stint. Former KABC staffers Steve Edwards and Eric Tracy are reunited today from 1-3 as Vic "The Brick" Jacobs is on vacation and the "Karl Malone Show" is on hiatus. Ben Maller and Dave Smith move to mornings on Monday for three weeks as Ireland prepares for marital bliss. The plan is for Maller and Smith to eventually go to middays, as operations manager Mike Thompson continues to experiment. On Dec. 28-29, Mark Walberg and Mark DeCarlo, formerly of TV show "Studs," get a tryout.

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