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Sports Weekend | TV-RADIO

Fox Takes Aim at Best in Show

November 09, 2001|LARRY STEWART

Sometimes you wonder what those on-the-edge people at Fox are thinking. Coming up with a name such as "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" may not only offend some people, it also may have not been very bright.

It certainly makes it easy for a critic to say this is "the worst damn sports show period."

Then again, maybe that's the idea. The Fox people are well aware that viewers may either love the show or hate it.

"We're not claiming it is the best show," says Tracy Dolgin, Fox Sports Net president, "but we think the title fits. If you like the title, you'll probably like the show. If you're offended by the title, this show is probably not for you."

David Hill, the chairman of Fox Sports, loves the title--and the show.

It is his brainchild, his baby.

"The Best Damn Sports Show Period" is modeled after a show that began airing in Australia, Hill's homeland, in the early 1980s, and another that started on Sky Sports in England, which Hill ran, in 1991.

"It combines sports commentary with humor," he said. "It has no boundaries, no format. It can be anything it wants to be."

Sometimes it's politically incorrect. But sometimes it's entertaining too.

There's no telling what you'll see. Shaquille O'Neal came on recently and donned a blond wig for a skit.

It's a goofy show, so guests have no problem doing goofy things.

The show made an inconspicuous debut on Fox Sports Net July 23 and was airing at midnight until recently. Meanwhile, the Fox public relations machine was all but keeping it a secret.

Executive producer George Greenberg calls it a "soft launch." Greenberg says the idea was to get the kinks out before making a big splash.

Well, now comes the splash. The show expanded from an hour to 90 minutes this week and goes to a two-hour format Dec. 3. It airs at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Net or Fox Sports Net 2 when either network does not have a game to televise. And it is always on at 11:30 p.m., either as a repeat or a first airing.

The cast includes host Chris Rose, "the voice of the fan" Tom Arnold, John Kruk, Reggie Theus and the St. Louis Rams' D'Marco Farr, who is sidelined this season because of a knee injury. John Salley has been sitting in for Theus this week and there could be a permanent role for him.

Ken Rudulph does the off-the-wall "Nightly Daily Sports Report," and Lisa Guererro does the legitimate reports. Tomm Looney, formerly of KXTA (1150) and now a roving reporter and associate producer for the "John and Ken Show" on KFI (640), is the voice of "The Best Damn Sports Show Period."

The name of the show came from a meeting Hill had with Dolgin, Greenberg and Scott Ackerson, the producer of Fox's NFL pregame show.

"We couldn't come up with a title," Hill said. "It was Ackerson who came up with it. Scotty says, 'OK, what we're trying to create here is the best damn sports show, period.'

"I said, 'That's it. That's the name of the show."'

And it was, minus the comma.

Greenberg, Ackerson and Jeremiah Bosgang, who has a background in comedy writing, were named the executive producers. Mark Mayer was named producer.

Fox is putting a lot of effort into the show. The result may not be the best damn sports show. But it's certainly not the worst either, and it's getting better.

No Awards Here

So what was Fox thinking Sunday night when it starting putting Emmy Award winners at the bottom of the screen during Game 7 of the World Series?

It sure irritated West Coast viewers who were planning to watch the tape-delayed Emmy telecast later that evening.

What happened was, host Ellen DeGeneres made a crack about viewers sticking with the Emmys and not switching over to the baseball game because she'd announce the score. It was a joke, but Fox's Hill didn't see it that way.

So he ordered his people to put the Emmy winners on the screen.

"It was a pretty no-class thing to do," CBS Executive Vice President Gil Schwartz told the Washington Post.

Short Waves

Do you think ABC regrets making Oregon-UCLA its featured Pacific 10 game Saturday? Things could get ugly.... Meanwhile, USC, which plays at California Saturday, will not be on television for the first time since a game at Oregon State in 1997. Of USC's last 160 games, 159 have been televised.... Because KSPN (1110) is carrying Ohio State-Purdue at 9 a.m. Saturday, Mike Willman's "Thoroughbred Los Angeles" show will not be on.

The UCLA-USC game on Nov. 17 will be on Fox Sports Net at 3:30 p.m. Leading up to the game, Fox Sports Net's "Southern California Sports Report" will look at some of the rivalry's memorable moments with a number of special guests. They include former USC kicker David Bell on Monday, former UCLA running back Gaston Green on Tuesday, former USC wide receiver Erik Affholter on Wednesday and former UCLA quarterback Wayne Cook on Thursday.... Fox Sports Net 2 will show two USC-UCLA games from the past--the 1996 game Monday at 6 p.m. and last year's game Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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