Recently departed Good Wife alum Josh Charles made an appearance last night on Keith Olbermann‘s ESPN show in character as one of his most beloved television alter egos. Surprise – it was Dan Rydell, the sports anchor Charles played 14 years ago on Aaron Sorkin‘s short-lived Emmy winning drama Sports Night (although The Good Wife‘s Will Gardner earned a shout out):
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.
Last month, Keith Olbermann‘s bosses at ESPN and Disney said they were “blessed” to have him back — after very public stints at and exits from MSNBC and Current TV. Not to mention his nasty retreat from ESPN in 1997. (The network expunged any trace of Olbermann from its 25th anniversary SportsCenter “Reunion Week.”) So there was plenty of anticipation about how his new weeknightly ESPN2 show Olbermann would play. As it turned out, there was snark but no fury. The issues he touched on mostly were East Coast-specific and not really controversial. He didn’t get into any of the recent headline-making stories involving his new network (the NFL concussions documentary, a new rival in Fox Sports 1, Nate Silver’s hiring). There was a bare-bones set and no splashy graphics, hinting that the Worldwide Leader is content to put the focus solely on Olbermann. The results were, of all things, pretty dull.
One week after ESPN announced it had signed Keith Olbermann to host a weekday late-night show on ESPN2, the guy who’d been savaging the place since it showed him the door nearly two decades back came to the Summer TCA Press Tour and said the reunion was practically inevitable and it had been a great place to work. “The reality is that whatever I have thought of ESPN when I worked there — and I thought I had a pretty good perspective about the place — I didn’t know what I was talking about,” he told TV critics and reporters in the room. “The places I went afterwards made ESPN look like a Let’s Applaud Keith session for five years.” Back in 2007 — a decade after he left ESPN — he told Dave Letterman, “ I don’t burn bridges, I burn rivers. You burn a bridge, you can possibly build a new bridge. When there’s no river anymore, that’s a lot of trouble.” On Wednesday, however, he said if you burn a bridge, “take the tunnel.”
One of those Worse Than ESPN places at which he labored — Current TV — was so bad, comparing ESPN to it was like comparing “color TV to radio.”
He had a million of ‘em. The critics lapped it up.
ESPN has made its second high-profile signing in a week, and it’s someone well known to Hollywood political circles. The New York Times announced online tonight that its political number cruncher Nate Silver is heading to the sports giant and taking his FiveThirtyEight crystal ball column with him. Silver began his career by compiling spreadsheets of baseball statistics before he became the best known 2012 national election prognosticator and the most accurate. The NYT said that, in political years, he will have a role at ABC News, which is also owned by Disney. Most of the statisticians had Mitt Romney beating President Obama in the electoral college count for months prior to the election, but Silver called the contest correctly. (Said the president: “Nate Silver completely nailed it. The guy’s amazing.”) Prior to the 2008 election, Silver gained recognition for developing an algorithm known as PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), which was used to predict players’ future performance.
The news of Silver’s defection comes just days after the ESPN re-signed Keith Olbermann to do a late-night show on ESPN2 and less than a month before News Corp launches its rival sports network Fox Sports 1. The NYT said Silver’s 3-year contract was set to expire in late August, “and his departure will most likely be interpreted …
Is Keith Olbermann’s latest TV renaissance about to take him back to Bristol? The lightning-rod veteran of sports and political shows is in “serious discussions” with Disney-owned ESPN for a late-night talker on sister outlet ESPN2, according to the New York Daily News. The paper stresses that no decision has been made and that talks are “very fluid,” but even the notion of Olbermann-to-ESPN has eyebrows arched around the industry — especially with the launch of News Corp’s high-profile potential rival sports net just a month away. Fox Sports 1 has been staffing up for its August 17 debut, prepping shows with Regis Philbin and Mike Tyson, among others, so Olbermann would be quite a coup for the Worldwide Leader, which is coming off a wince-inducing 32% Q2 ratings drop for its flagship network and 12% for ESPN2. Olbermann is resuscitating his post-Current TV career with a Major League Baseball postseason studio show on TBS. That is the former MSNBC host’s first television gig since his very public split with Current, which Al Gore since has sold to Al Jazeera. Olbermann worked at ESPN from 1992-97 before exiting — as has become is TV M.O. — amid controversy. He also had a three-year stint at Fox Sports Net and Fox, working the 2000 World Series for the latter.
In his first TV gig since leaving Current TV, Keith Olbermann has been tapped by Turner Sports as host of TBS’ Major League Baseball postseason studio show, joining analyst and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. Additionally, Ron Darling, who joined TBS as an MLB analyst in 2008, has inked a long-term extension. And Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. will transition from the studio to the broadcast booth full time this postseason. Ripken, who primarily has served as a TBS studio analyst for the last six years, will join Ernie Johnson (play-by-play) and Darling as a three-man commentator team throughout the 2013 MLB Postseason, including the network’s coverage of the Division Series and exclusive telecast of the National League Championship Series.
UPDATE, 4:54PM: A day after a deal was reach in Keith Olbermann’s $50 million lawsuit against Current TV, the former TV host and his former employer have issued a short joint statement officially confirming the settlement:
“The parties are pleased to announce that a settlement has occurred, and that the terms are confidential. Nothing more will be disclosed regarding the settlement.”
PREVIOUSLY, TUESDAY PM: Looks like Bay Area mediation worked where LA litigation could not for Keith Olbermann in his $50 million lawsuit against Current TV. A daylong session in San Francisco at the offices of Antonio Piazza of Mediation Negotiations has led to a settlement between the parties. While specifics of the agreement are confidential, a source tells Deadline that Olbermann is set to receive a significant payout from Current. The former ESPN and MSNBC anchor’s deal also means it won’t impact the Al Gore co-founded Current’s recent $500 million sale to Al Jazeera. Late last week, in heavily redacted court documents filed under seal in LA Superior Court, the former Countdown frontman requested an April 24 hearing for a summary judgment to rule in his favor over Current.
Olbermann sued his former employer for breach of contact and other claims on April 5, 2012 for the full multimillion-dollar sum of his five-year contract, this after Current fired Olbermann that March after less than a year at the network. On April 6, Current filed a cross complaint claiming it had “every right to terminate Mr. Olbermann’s services.” Both parties are expected to file documents relatively soon to dismiss the case.
The ongoing sideshow that is Keith Olbermann and his employment woes just continues. Within days before a high level mediation meeting in San Francisco, the one-time TV host is now seeking a summary judgment in his $50 million lawsuit against Current TV (now being sold to Al Jazeera). In heavily redacted court documents (read them here) filed under seal in LA Superior Court on Thursday the former Countdown frontman wants an April 24 hearing to rule in his favor over his former employers. The documents filed this week are Olbermann’s evidence why the court should rule for him. While most of the document is blanked out, the introduction to the 25-page filing gives a pretty good sense of where the former talking head is coming from:
Current breached 16(a)(i) of the Agreement by making disparaging and derogatory statements in the public and to its staff about Mr. Olbermann and by disclosing confidential terms of the parties’ Agreement to the press. Current breached 2(a)(ii) of the Agreement by using Mr. Olbermann’s likeness in connection with advertising the Program properties, all without his prior approval. Current breached 5(c) by using Olbermann’s name, without his approval, in connection with a commercial for AT&T. Current breached 2(a) and 2(b)(ii) by denying Mr. Olbermann editorial control over “Program Specials” broadcast on Current, and breached 2(a)(i) by refusing Mr. Olbermann editorial control of the website when it denied his request to stream segments of Countdown over the Website. Current breached 13(d) of the agreement by improperly terminating Mr. Olbermann’s employment.
Olbermann and his lawyers are scheduled to meet with Current TV executives on March 12 at the offices of Antonio Piazza of Mediation Negotiations in San Francisco. Former Vice-President and Current co-founder Al Gore and Current president David Bohrman are expected to attend.
Rupert Murdoch has had to apologize for, or clarify, so many of his tweets that you’d think he’d have learned to edit himself — or just think a moment longer before hitting the “send” button. But it happened again this evening after he wrote a message about a story in his New York Post about an overweight woman from Queens who fell through the sidewalk on the Upper East Side: “How did fat lady who fell thru street get to 400 lbs? Welfare, stamps, etc? Then leave us all with 20 yrs immense health bills.” The response was immediate: “How many prejudiced assumptions can you fit in one tweet, Rupe?” Keith Olbermann wrote. He added: “This is like assuming all media moguls achieved success thru bribery, bullying, phone hacking.” Murdoch quickly tried to clean things up: “Did not mean to be unsympathetic to 400 lb lady, but fact remains unhealthy eating by rich and poor driving up premiums for all.” Last year Murdoch apologized to actor Hugh Grant for wrongly suggesting that he had refused to support his daughter. He apologized for suggesting that Gen. David Petraeus had “taken the fall” for President Obama following the murder of U.S. embassy personnel in Benghazi. He apologized for asking why the “Jewish owned press” was “so consistently anti-Israel.” And he missed by 23 days what he said was the one-year anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
The liberal cable stronghold Current TV hosted a breakfast this morning at TCA complete with its very own on-site radio show. The syndicated Stephanie Miller Show was broadcast in the background and simulcast live on Current, as it is every weekday. In fact, the network has ramped up its homegrown live programming significantly since the beginning of the year after losing its signature primetime show hosted by Keith Olbermann (who departed at the end of March in an acrimonious huff, followed in April by the inevitable multi-pronged lawsuit over his termination). The Olbermann situation “is going to be in litigation for the rest of my life,” said Current president David Bohrman with only a trace of exaggeration. But he was wistful about the lingering impact that Olbermann had on the network. “It’s unfortunate (how things ended),” he said, “but Keith was transformative in that when we put his program on, it really showed (Current partners) Joel (Hyatt) and Al (Gore) what we should be doing. And to that end, it was critical. It helped set us on the right path”.
In his first stint on a political talk show since his own was yanked off the air by Current TV, Keith Olbermann will appear on ABC News’ This Week With George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. “Keith Olbermann will join George Stephanopoulos on the round table,” This Week tweeted this afternoon. Olbermann’s first TV appearance since his firing from Current was on CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman where he addressed the dismissal metaphorically, comparing himself to “a $10 million chandelier.” Olbermann has since filed a lawsuit against Current, which counter-sued him.
Current California Lieutenant Governor and longtime liberal talking head Gavin Newsom has landed his own show on Current TV. The former San Francisco mayor, who briefly ran for California governor in 2009, will host the weekly hourlong talker The Gavin Newsom Show beginning next month. The network said in making the announcement today that the show will have a California focus, interviewing “notables from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and beyond.” Former Forbes and CNN executive Mia Haugen will executive produce. “Gavin Newsom is a courageous leader who has boldly seized every opportunity to create positive social change,” Current TV chairman Al Gore said. “First as a successful entrepreneur, then in his role as Mayor of San Francisco, and now as Lieutenant Governor, Newsom touches many worlds — business, politics, entertainment and activism. We are honored that Current TV will be bringing his curiosity, intelligence, insights and enthusiasm to television.” Current is on the hunt for new voices after the abrupt and nasty departure of network linchpin Keith Olbermann in March. The anchor made good on his word to sue Current and its bosses Gore and Joel Hyatt, claiming breach of contract and that Gore and Hyatt undermined him and ignored his suggestions and concerns about the network. Current’s lineup now includes Eliot Spitzer, Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm.
Conservative media are immensely enjoying the legal combat which erupted last week between Keith Olbermann and Al Gore’s Current TV cable network. The lawsuits and countersuits have prompted headlines like “Epic Ego Fail” to describe Olbermann. But Gore, too, is coming in for ridicule as shown by the Internet illustrations above. “Would anyone like some popcorn as two of the biggest meatheads in cable news duke it out?” wrote Breitbart.com. “One behaves as though he invented broadcasting, the other claims he invented the Internet.” Still another right-wing article hypes the battle between Gore and “favorite lefty TV spokesboor” Olbermann, even claiming the day Olbermann sued the employer (April 5th) ”will henceforth be known among conservatives as ‘National Schadenfreude Day’. … Keith is dissing Al as a goof, which makes Keith what kind of doof for being suckered by him?” For that matter, what kind of dork goes on Letterman and describes himself as “a $10 million chandelier” while detailing what is basically a run-of-the-mill employment dispute. Which prompted the right-wing Washington Times to snark in a headline: “Yes, Olbermann is like a $10 million chandelier: Fragile and vastly overpriced.” Even more to the point, Olbermann’s $70 million lawsuit and Current’s countersuit over his $50 million TV contract confirms conservatives’ worst stereotypes about the left-wing media. It turns out they really are limousine liberals: among examples of Olbermann’s misbehavior, Current cites more than $50,000 spent among 8 limousine companies. And so on.
Much to the glee of the GOP, the legal battle also lays bare the dysfunction inside Current TV run by the former Democraic Vice President Al Gore and his longtime pal Joel Hyatt, who was 2000′s National Finance Chair for the Democratic Party. Liberals wondering why the channel doesn’t get more audience traction only need to read Olbermann’s legal complaint for the answers.
In his first TV appearance since his ouster from Current TV, Keith Olbermann guests on CBS‘ Late Show With David Letterman tonight. In a preview released by CBS, Olbermann and Letterman talk about Olbermann’s short stint at Current TV. “I screwed up, I screwed up really big on this,” Olbermann says. “I thought we could do this. It’s my fault that it didn’t succeed in the sense that I didn’t think the whole thing through. I didn’t say, ‘You know, if you buy a $10 million chandelier, you should have a house to put it in. Just walking around with a $10 million chandelier isn’t going to do anybody a lot of good, and it’s not going to do any good to the chandelier.’ And then it turned out we didn’t have a lot to put the house on to put the chandelier in, or a building permit, and I, I should have known that. And it is, it is my fault at heart.” “You’re the chandelier?” Letterman asks. “I’m the chandelier,” Olbermann replies. “You are always pointing out how big my head is, so I think it’s a suitable analogy.”
After his abrupt exit from MSNBC last year, Keith Olbermann made his first TV appearance on CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman. He will do it again after his latest acrimonious departure, this time from Current TV. Olbermann will sit down with Letterman on Tuesday. During his previous visit, Olbermann called the offer to join Current TV “manna from heaven.” That probably won’t be the choice of words he will use about his now-ex-employer this time around. Last May, Letterman asked Olbermann about the nine employers he has left during his career and the state of the bridges he’s left behind. “Some people have said, I did not burn the bridges,” Olbermann said. “I have napalmed them. My argument was I did not burn the bridges, I burnt the rivers.” Ten months later, the only thing that has changed is the number of jilted employers, which has climbed to 10. Here is a video of last year’s chat:
UPDATE, 2:45 PM: Olbermann’s fighting back: “Keith’s termination is baseless,” his lawyer Patricia Glaser says. “We will sue them for their improper conduct. They made a bad decision. They can expect a bad result.” And here’s Olbermann’s statement, an apology to viewers for joining Current which he says was a “sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one”:
I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.
Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.
I don’t know why Current avoided calling itself a politically progressive channel with its new ad campaign and slogan: “We Are Politically Direct.” If you’re direct, then why not just say what you are? In any event, here’s the campaign’s first spot for Current’s primetime lineup with Keith Olbermann, Cenk Uygur, and Jennifer Granholm. It’s voiced by actor, activist, and rapper Common, and was created and produced by LA-based Stun Creative Agency:
EXCLUSIVE: My insiders say there’s finally an agreement tonight between Keith Olbermann and Current TV giving him ”carte blanche” to plan and program the channel’s 2012 election coverage. But the truce doesn’t come in time for Olbermann to do the entire 4-hour block of New Hampshire primary coverage this Tuesday night. Current TV this week wouldn’t give its chief news officer/controversial liberal commentator the time slot, then on Friday night agreed, then refused, and now is blinking yet again. I told you this was going to seesaw throughout the weekend. (See my previous, Will Keith Olbermann Control All Election Coverage On Current TV?)