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NBC, Fox make sense for Patrick

USA Today - USA - Studio hosts get lots more on-air face time than anybody else in TV sports. So Dan Patrick, after anchoring SportsCenter for 17 years and popping up to host things such as ABC/ESPN's NBA coverage, presumably has a pretty marketable mug — rather than just a face for radio.

Patrick, leaving ESPN Aug. 17, has only announced he'll do a syndicated radio show and said he doesn't "have any magic potion that says I know what I'm doing."

So where would he fit in? Handicapping the prospects:

•NBC. NBC's Olympic announcing lineup, with notable exceptions such as Mary Carillo, has suffered from excessive earnestness. Patrick could lighten things up at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games as NBC's late-night host or co-host of its torrential cable TV coverage.

And NBC's Sunday-night NFL studio show needs help. It already has a cast of thousands, including host Bob Costas and the upcoming addition of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, Patrick's old partner at ESPN. Might be fun to at least to have Patrick and Olbermann re-unite for a regular weekly segment.

•Fox. NFL studio shows are a pretty big deal. Fox scrapped its test of using game announcer Joe Buck on its NFL show, and next season will use Curt Menefee.

And after inheriting college football's Bowl Championship Series last season, it will return Chris Rose as host of its BCS studio. And in its baseball studio, Jeannie Zelasko hosts.

Patrick would be a much bigger name than any of them. But Buck, asked about Patrick's TV future Thursday, suggested he has a brighter future outside Fox: "He should be a deep-tissue masseuse, because he's always looked en fuego in white!"

• CBS. Since Brent Musburger, CBS' studio hosts have been traffic cops thanking sponsors and sending viewers back to stadiums. Patrick's on-air wit wouldn't fit.

•TNT/TBS. Ernie Johnson hosts Turner's terrific TNT NBA show — and nobody should mess with that — and should be fine on TBS' upcoming baseball playoff coverage. Not much need for hosts to come out of the bullpen.

•HBO. Various broadcast network announcers, such as NBC's Costas and Cris Collinsworth, get HBO side gigs.

HBO possibilities for Patrick might include hosting a weekly baseball show, a la HBO's long-running Inside the NFL. Or HBO, as a complement to its Real Sports newsmagazine and quarterly Costas Now, could create a show for Patrick combining sports and entertainment and, oh, a house band.

•Wild cards. Patrick could follow sportscasters, such as Bryant Gumbel and Robin Roberts, who moved to news. Or he try late-night comedy like ex-ESPN anchor Craig Kilborn. Or, having said he's in no hurry to make his next move, Patrick could circle the runway until Regis Philbin moves on.

Whatever his next move, we'll know when Patrick has arrived: When he's asked to host ESPN's Espy show.

Move over, ballparks; ESPN might move into ballroom

Normally, networks are pretty secretive about sports in their crosshairs.

But John Skipper, ESPN Executive Vice President/Content, hinted at a bold new direction for the self-styled Worldwide Leader in an internal company memo that became public on deadspin.com.

In a written Q&A with staffers, Skipper is asked if ESPN will "capitalize on the nationwide dance obsession" — supposedly exhibited by ABC's Dancing with the Stars— by creating its own dance competitions. Perhaps ones that feature only pro athletes, or offer U.S. coverage of events such as the World Salsa Championships, which ESPN carries overseas.

Skipper's answer suggests he can no longer pull off a surprise attack on other programmers who see untapped TV sports potential in ballrooms.

Noting ESPN already "plays off" Dancing's success with "regular updates on SportsCenter and other studio shows," he reveals "we have looked at ballroom dancing programming and will continue to. One challenge is that the ballroom dancing audience is generally not our typical audience. To have a shot at success would require devotion of significant resources."

Perhaps. But the future of TV sports might belong to those bold enough to devote such resources to, say, the rumba.

Forecast: Winds and funny business at Carnoustie

Patrick Healy isn't really a TV weatherman. He's just playing one for British Open coverage on TNT.

Healy, 65, has been a member of tournament host Carnoustie Golf Club for 30 years — he also caddies there — so he knows the famous Scottish "breezes" — his description — on "the toughest course in the world." When Healy was a 12-handicapper 15 years ago, he shot a personal-best 76 there.

And Healy knows winds. Before retiring, Healy spent 20 years working on British Petroleum oil rigs out in the North Sea where winds could reach 100 mph, resulting in 60-foot waves. Thursday, Healy said he expects tournament's on-course winds to be "benign" and allow the winner to finish as many as eight shots under par.

Healy, who's also written poetry for various publications, got his four-day TV gig after TNT asked the club to suggest a colorful character.

Healy gained local fame when he replayed the 18th-hole Carnoustie shots for a local newspaper feature that Frenchman Jean Van de Velde faced in his famous final-hole meltdown in 1999.

While not a trained broadcast meteorologist, he's picked up on the big idea — "we're playing this for laughs." Thursday, he called for wind and rain — "we'll probably have everything since all of that can happen in a day here" — while wearing funny boots.

"He does all that without Doppler," TNT host Ernie Johnson said. "I'm very impressed."

So when will Healy show up in a kilt? "I was thinking about that. But as an Irishman in Carnoustie, it wouldn't go down well. And it's too cold."
Source : Originally Published USA Today - USA, Jul 19, 2007
Celebrities : Dan Patrick
Categories : Athletes, Radio Personalities, TV Personalities, Athlete News
Posted 7/19/2007 12:07:35 AM | Permalink
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