As you know, Seth Meyers is taking over the 12:30 p.m. talk show slot from Jimmy Fallon next year, when Fallon moves in to take over The Tonight Show. But Meyers, currently the head writer and Weekend News anchor on SNL, had another talk show offer to mull before saying yes to NBC (and who says yes to NBC without thinking it over, hard?). That offer came from ESPN.
Huh? (Drops Lunchables).
Yep, ESPN wants to get into the late-night talk show business, and Meyers was the network’s first choice. He said no, according to Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead, who talked with ESPN president John Skipper about it recently. Meyers was reportedly interested, but preferred the NBC job. But the bigger news is, ESPN is going to do a talk show?
The network gets big ratings with live game programming, and SportsCenter. And after the 11 p.m. SportsCenter … it’s a rerun of SportsCenter. So why not a late-night talk show? How hard could it be to pull that off?
Very hard. Just ask Arsenio Hall, Chevy Chase, Pat Sajak, Joey Bishop, Alan Thicke, Joe Namath, Magic Johnson … you get the idea. Even Conan O’Brien got clobbered in the ratings when he first started at NBC, but the network kept him around out of stubbornness until things improved.
My first thought is that ESPN should try something new: the talk show in its present form has been around forever (I believe Aristotle hosted the first one) without much of a makeover. But absent that, this could work … with the right host. Here are our suggestions: