It’s an awards ceremony that’s will see Ted Turner take home a Lifetime Achievement Award and ESPN hard pressed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. With a lead almost double its nearest competitor, the cable channel scored …
What with the recently wrapped Winter Olympics competition results being known well in advance of NBC‘s various Olympics broadcasts, and the United States coming in fourth in number of gold medals scored, behind Russia (13), Norway (11), and Canada (10) (U.S. was No. 2 in overall medal count, behind Russia), many of NBC’s most buzz-worthy Sochi moments were all about — NBC. Which, presumably, is the future of broadcast network primetime Games coverage. How successful was NBC? Here’s a look at the 4 Big NBC Moments At Sochi:
“I’m Bob Costas, sitting in tonight for Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira,” Costas joked when he finally returned as NBC’s Primetime Games anchor after six days on the sick list while doctors treated his Twitter-trending double eye infection. The incident was historic, because it broke Costas’ 14-year Olympic anchoring streak and Vieira became the first woman ever to get the gig, if only temporarily.
Bode Miller’s Tears
When Olympian Bode Miller doubled over weeping as NBC peppered him with questions about his dead brother, after winning the Super-G bronze medal, social media response was savage. NBC Olympics EP Jim Bell insisted it would have been “irresponsible” of the network not to have asked Miller about his brother, who died in April, after setting up that storyline before Bode’s run. But what saved NBC, ironically, was Miller coming to the network’s rescue the next morning on Today show, saying interviewer Christin Cooper is “a sweetheart of a person” who he knows “didn’t mean to push” adding, “I do not blame her at all. I feel terrible that she’s taking the heat for that.” For years NBC has used this super-personal strategy in its Olympics coverage, thinking it connects viewers with the athletes and the Games. Also at Sochi, Meredith Vieira asked silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace about a miscarriage she suffered a few years ago and the role it played in her decision to come back from Olympics retirement.
UPDATE, 2:07 PM: ESPN responded to a question asking what is the plan while Keith Olbermann is out sick with a statement from Olbermann: “I’m day to day. We’re all day to day.” We hear Quinn is filling in — at least tonight.
PREVIOUS, 11:50 AM: First Bob Costas was felled by pink eye – now Keith Olbermann has succumbed to shingles. Viewers who learned the ESPN host was out Wednesday night may have thought “here we go again” but Olbermann took to Twitter today to assure them he’s not engaged in another death match with his employer – he’s suffering from shingles, suggesting it was fate’s way of punishing him for falling out of the 25-54 demographic last week when he celebrated his 55th birthday. Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash and that is itself caused by the chickenpox virus that stays in the body for years. In 2003, CBS late night star David Letterman was out for about a month with shingles.
UPDATE, 5 PM PT: “Welcome to NBC’s primetime coverage on this Monday — I’m Bob Costas, sitting in tonight for Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira,” Costas joked at the top of tonight’s NBC primetime Sochi Olympics coverage. He was returning to Games coverage for the first time after nearly a week off while doctors treated an infection in both of his eyes. A few moments later, more seriously, he offered “sincere thanks to Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira – two friends and true pros who stepped in for me on short notice. My thanks as well to all of you who expressed your concern, and my apologies to everyone for the unavoidable but uncomfortable circumstance of a broadcasters ill-timed affliction getting in the way, even for just a few moments, for what we all came here for – the Olympic Games.”
PREVIOUS, 12:02 PM: “Our long nightmare is over,” NBC Olympics EP Jim Bell said this morning to kick off a phone conference call with the media in re Bob Costas’ return to the network’s primetime Sochi Olympics coverage. Costas returned to the NBC Olympics studios at the International Broadcast Center in Sochi, Russia, on Sunday to prepare to resume his primetime and late-night hosting duties tonight. Costas is better, but his eye condition still is noticeable and he will wear glasses again. On today’s phone call, Costas joked of his eyes, “It won’t look as bad as it did the last night I was on the air, and probably it will look better 10 days from now — but the Olympics will be over.” His absence, since last Tuesday, ended his streak of 157 consecutive appearances as NBC’s Olympics anchor in primetime; it was the first time since 1988 that Costas had not hosted the primetime coverage.
Miss Deadline’s top TV stories? Catch up on the week now:
Bob Costas Returns To Sochi Olympics Coverage Monday (Photo)
By Lisa De Moraes – Bob Costas returned to the NBC Olympics studios at the International Broadcast Center in Sochi, Russia, today to prepare to resume his primetime and late night hosting duties tomorrow night.
‘Snake Salvation’ Star Dead From Snake Bite; NatGeo To Air Tribute Episode
By Jen Yamato – With the first season fully filmed National Geographic had no plans for a second season of Snake Salvation, says a network rep. Now in the wake of Jamie Coots‘ death NatGeo is working up a special tribute episode “so people can understand Pastor Jamie and his method of worship and see that he died doing what he believed was his calling.”
Actors Added To Fox’s Matt Hubbard, ABC’s Jeff Lowell Comedy Pilots
By Nellie Andreeva – Ely Henry (Suburgatory) and Asif Ali have been cast as leads in Cabot College, Fox‘s multi-camera comedy pilot from Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.
R.I.P. ‘The Waltons’ Patriarch Ralph Waite
By The Deadline Team – The man who played the patriarch on CBS’ long-running series The Waltons has died. Ralph Waite was 85. He also had been recurring since 2008 as Papa Gibbs, the father of Mark Harmon’s character, on NCIS.
Greta Gerwig To Topline CBS’ ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Spinoff
By Nellie Andreeva – Indie darling Greta Gerwig will lead the cast of How I Met Your Dad, CBS’ spinoff from long-running comedy series How I Met Your Mother.
UPDATE, 6:30 PM: “At an Olympics, there is no way to know what will happen at the moment everything matters most — no guarantee you’ll turn all that preparation into perfection,” Meredith Vieira said tonight at the International Broadcast Center in Sochi as she kicked off NBC’s primetime broadcast of Olympics competition held earlier in the day. The comment was particularly appropriate under the circumstances: Vieira, who’d been brought to Sochi to co-host the Opening Ceremony with Matt Lauer and had been doing segments for Today on U.S. athletes to watch at the Games since, was tapped to replace Bob Costas as the network’s primetime Games anchor, taking over for Lauer, who’d pulled double duty for three days. Costas still is battling an infection in both eyes that makes studio lighting his enemy.
Vieira is on duty for at least one night – possibly two, according to NBC’s Games EP Jim Bell, who called her the best choice for the gig among a considerable stable of talent at Sochi because her schedule was most flexible. For a TV veteran whose new syndicated daytime talk show is set to launch in the fall, the Sochi exposure is a gift. Before Costas, former Today anchor Bryant Gumbel served as primetime host of NBC’s Olympic coverage and was preceded by Curt Gowdy and Bill Henry, making Vieira the first woman to do the job. Hannah Storm, Mary Carillo, Gayle Gardner and Jane Pauley have previously hosted NBC’s daytime and late-night Olympic coverage.
“It’s so funny, I woke up this morning and I was feeling fine, and now my eyes are killing me,” Vieira joshed on Today this morning when her new assignment was announced. “I watched you guys [Lauer and Al Roker] attempt the luge. I think I’m going blind.”
Bob Costas, NBC‘s primetime and late-night Olympics anchor, is out a second day — felled by swollen, weepy eyes. “I don’t know if I’m the first person to break it to you, but you’re coming out of the bullpen again tonight, Matt,” Costas phoned in to Matt Lauer this morning during the What’s Trending portion of Today show in Sochi. Costas and his pink-ish, teary eyes had been trending for a while — Costas having shown up last Thursday to anchor early Games coverage sporting a badly swollen left eye, glasses, and an apology to viewers. Tuesday was a big/bad day for NBC, with both Costas and Shaun White suffering the end of their streaks. White, who NBC had hoped would be its Big Story of the Sochi Games, lost out on his bid for a third consecutive gold in the halfpipe, going home with no medals from Sochi; Costas ended his uninterrupted run as anchor of NBC’s Olympics broadcasts since the late ’80s.
Lauer made his debut as fill-in anchor last night, telling viewers Costas’ eyes were so infected he looked like the loser in a prize fight. “How are you doing? So many people are rooting for you and worrying about you a little bit,” Savannah Guthrie asked Costas this morning — after noting Lauer’s “great reviews” for replacing him.
UPDATE: Matt Lauer Shuns Bob Costas’ Vodka-Shot Therapy As He Fills In On NBC’s Primetime Olympics Coverage
UPDATE, 5:50 PM PT: “We’re back now with a good opportunity to welcome in our Mary Carillo, and she’s about to bring us our nightly dose of Russian culture and no vodka tonight – please. You saw what happened last night,” Matt Lauer joked tonight as he fills in for Bob Costas on NBC‘s primetime Olympics coverage. He’s referring to the previous night’s primetime coverage when Costas abandoned NBC doctors’ treatment for his ever-worsening eye infections, and went instead with vodka, telling Carillo during one of her Russian-culture segments as he downed what was billed as a good-ish dose of the Russian booze: “My eyes can’t get any redder.” Polishing off his drink, he predicted, “Tomorrow morning I’ll be lying on a curb in Minsk.”
PREVIOUS, 4:30 PM PT: “I’m Matt Lauer, in for Bob Costas tonight. If you’ve been following along the last several days you know Bob’s been battling — and that’s an understatement — an eye infection that’s traveled a little bit,” Lauer said at the top of tonight’s NBC primetime coverage of Tuesday competition. ” I saw him in the hotel this morning — he looked a little like the loser in a prize fight.”
Walking up to the primetime coverage, NBC’s evening newscaster Brian Williams told viewers, “Bob Costas took himself out of the lineup for tonight as he deals with that eye infection,” ending a “Ripkin-like iron man streak of 157 straight primetime Olympics broadcasts that goes back to Barcelona in ’92.”
UPDATE, 8:30 AM: NBC has issued a news release about Bob Costas’ decision to end his streak of 157 nights of Olympics coverage. The network reiterated what Costas announced this morning on Today: that Matt Lauer will host NBC’s Olympic primetime and late-night shows tonight in place of Costas, who has an eye infection. In the news release, Costas says he bowed out tonight because, “as a practical matter, I simply couldn’t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light.” He added: “I’m hopeful the symptoms will improve in the next couple of days and I can return to the broadcast. Also, the last thing I want is to go through the rest of my life owing Matt Lauer a bunch of favors.”
Tonight marks the first time since CBS presented the Nagano Olympic Winter Games in 1998 that someone other than Costas will host an Olympics primetime show. It’s also the first time since 1988 that someone other than Costas will host the Olympic primetime show on NBC — a remarkable 157 straight nights. “I’m happy to keep his chair warm. Although I might Purell it before I sit in it!” Lauer said in the announcement, which noted Costas is listed as ‘day to day’ on the NBC injury report.
Costas’ full statement:
Two days after announcing it had hired New Yorker editor (and former Washington Post Moscow bureau chief) David Remnick to provide guest commentary on the network’s air during its coverage of the upcoming Sochi Winter Games, NBCUniversal announced it had hired Moscow-based TV journalist Vladimir Pozner as a correspondent for its Olympics coverage in Sochi. Pozner will appear with Bob Costas on a late-night program, offering a Russian perspective of the Games, the company said.
“With his deep Russian roots and American upbringing, Vladimir Pozner is uniquely qualified to provide a Russian outlook to our audience during the Sochi Olympics,” said Jim Bell, Executive Producer, NBC Olympics, in this morning’s announcement, calling this “another significant moment in Russia’s history.” Costas, know for his outspoken commentary, recently told The Associated Press he won’t comment on Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law that’s causing people to protest NBC’s participation in the upcoming Games because he’s hoping to land an interview with what AP called “responsible people.”
Pozner’s a controversial guy. About a year ago, Radio Free Europe reported he’d blasted the state of justice in Russia, over the abduction and alleged torture of opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhayev, as well as the prison sentences of Pussy Riot members. He’s not controversy-free in this country either. Pozner’s U.S. media experience, NBCU noted, includes co-hosting Pozner/Donahue – a syndicated weekly, issues-oriented roundtable program that aired on CNBC from 1991-1996 – and numerous appearances across the landscape, including NBC’s Today, and ABC’s Nightline.
Here’s what Nightline’s original anchor, Ted Koppel had to say, in 2004, about Pozner’s first appearance on the newsmag on January 23, 1980, ” the night of what would turn out to be Jimmy Carter’s last State of the Union Address.” when the Soviet Army had recently invaded Afghanistan…and Carter had some tough things to say about that.
“We turned to someone who was described to us as a Radio Moscow Commentator. His name … Vladimir Pozner,” Koppel said. His comments, on ABC’s website, are followed by an excerpt of Pozner’s appearance on Nightline that night:
POZNER: You realize that I do not agree with what you call an invasion. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to say our viewpoint, and I want to thank you for it.
TED KOPPEL: Please do.
POZNER: The Soviet Union, as you know, has agreements with Afghanistan and sent in military aid at request of the Afghanistan government. We do not see that at all as an invasion. But, as simply, honoring our commitment. And I’d like to make that absolutely clear.
Koppel added, in 2004: “It used to drive my colleague George Will crazy when I introduced Vladimir Pozner as a Soviet Journalist. ‘It’s a contradiction in terms,’ George would insist. ‘The Soviet Union doesn’t have journalists in the sense that we do.’ And he was right.”
Bob Costas will host the network’s primetime and late night coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in February. No big surprise there — Costas has served as primetime host for every Olympics on NBC since 1992. But it’s only the second time he’s hosted both in primetime and late night (he did same during the 2000 Sydney Olympics). With the 2014 assignment, he becomes U.S. television’s first 10-time Olympic primetime host. The previous record-holder, Jim McKay, hosted eight times for ABC. (Costas served as NBC’s late night host at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.)
In today’s announcement, Costas, who has the longest tenure of the network’s sports announcers (34 years), called the Olympics “a three-week miniseries which, if done well, should bring viewers not only compelling athletic performances, but a sense of the host city and country, and an appreciation of what is a truly global gathering.”
The no-holds-barred critic and sports host has already tongue-lashed his own network NBC. (Is Bob Costas TV’s Most Powerful Man?) Now he’s starting on competitors. On Friday he excoriated CBS for ignoring the Augusta National Golf Club’s legacy of excluding black and female members from its ranks. “What no CBS commentator has ever alluded to, even in passing, even during a rain delay, even when there was time to do so, is Augusta’s history of racism and sexism. Even when people were protesting just outside the grounds — forget about taking a side — never acknowledging it… I just think somebody ought to have had the guts to do it along the way… Broadcaster, executive, somebody”. CBS has exclusively covered the Masters since 1956. Here’s Costas unloading on the Dan Patrick Show: