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New Deal Will Expand Costas' Role With HBO

April 03, 2002|LARRY STEWART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bob Costas, once a candidate to work NBA telecasts for ABC and ESPN beginning next season, has signed a new multiyear deal with HBO, which would preclude him from working for another cable network.

The deal, to be announced today, also means it is unlikely he would be a part of ABC's NBA coverage, which involves 15 regular-season games and the Finals.

ESPN, under parent company Disney's new contract with the NBA, will do the bulk of the coverage and, according to a source, is handling the hiring of on-air talent. AOL Time Warner has a separate deal with the NBA, providing for coverage on TNT and a new channel, tentatively to be the All Sports Network.

"ESPN's offer was intriguing," Costas said Tuesday night. "It was well thought out and geared toward my interest and strengths as a broadcaster.

"It was substantial in every way and I considered it very seriously."

Costas' new deal with HBO means he will continue to do his "On the Record" show as well as appear on "Inside the NFL." He will also be involved in specials and other HBO projects.

"A little of this and that," he said.

Costas would not rule out the possibility of still doing some sort of deal with ABC.

"All this does is define the cable aspect, the network element is still undecided," he said, leaving the door open to be possibly involved in the NBA Finals on ABC.

Costas' NBC deal expires in June, and there has been speculation that even if he were involved with ABC's NBA coverage he might still serve as NBC's Olympic host in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Costas was reached in New York, where he was working on Thursday night's edition of "On the Record," which will include an interview Costas did with Jim Brown at the Ventura Country jail on Saturday. By then Brown had been fasting for 17 days. Costas said that although Brown had lost 20 pounds he looked good and was totally alert.

"He believes he has been targeted by the D.A.'s office and police because he is a political activist," Costas said.

The other guest on Thursday's show will be Bud Selig, who will be live in studio.

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