Remembering Joe Buck Live and the Interview That Destroyed It
If your program happens to get on HBO, you know you've done something right. The network known as Home Box Office, known for playing the hottest movies has made a name for itself with some of the best television shows on the tube...ever. Be it Entourage, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm...and some show with dragons, I forget the name...you name it, HBO probably has a better track record on its projects than Pixar does on its movies.
HBO has made its ventures into talk shows, and has likewise found success in that area, mostly with the political satirists Bill Maher and John Oliver. Now, it returns to the sports genre, with Any Given Wednesday, starring Bill Simmons in his rise from post-ESPN purgatory. Reviews have been...well...see for yourself.
But this isn't the first time HBO has ventured into sports talk, as previously they put on the enjoyable Costas Now, which ran for three seasons. Starring Bob Costas, the talk show ended when the titular host ventured to MLB Network in 2009. In his place came....Joe Buck.
Now, many hate on Buck, but some of it can be rather unnecessary. He's evolved plenty from his infamous "Mitchell" call from the 2003 NFC title game, and has gone on to be one of the finest and longest-running play-by-play men in sports over the past decade, forming a solid booth with Troy Aikman, as the two have occupied the top slot with the NFL on FOX.
When it came to hosting talk shows, however, Bob Costas he was not.
HBO tapped Buck to be the replacement for Bob, forming Joe Buck Live, a talk show that would replicate the Costas formula of not running every single week and invite guests that weren't just athletes. However, for Buck's first show, the network lined him up Jason Sudeikis, a pre-Ant Man Paul Rudd...and Artie Lange.
Lange, the former Howard Stern sidekick who later developed a filmography in which the role you most remember is the Santa who scent consists of "beef and cheese" in Elf, is a New York Giants fan, and decided to go with a totally original bit on how then-new Cowboys QB Tony Romo happened to have a name that rhymed with "homo", and later called out Romo's infamous relationship with Jessica Simpson. He later goes at it with Buck, telling him that he won't make to his fourth episode (Ironically, Live was canceled after three shows) and getting catty when asked to take his feet off a table. The full interview is below (NSFW)
The show tried to keep things interesting, hosting a roundtable discussion with Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones in the second episode, as well as a conversation with Curt Schilling that, let's face it, you'd kill to see today knowing what we know now. It also replaced the all-comedian panel (or the Artie Lange and two comedian panel) with a former NFL quarterback panel of Dan Marino, John Elway and Joe Namath. However, Buck's charisma, which he displayed in more recent times as a play-by-play guy (including this non-sequitur Johnny Manziel imitation) simply wasn't there as a talk show host. Ratings for the show likewise weren't catching up.
Buck's final two episodes were broadcast sporadically over the next few months before the show was officially ditched in March of that next year. HBO then remained mum on sports talk shows, though continuing to find success with their award-winning newsmagazine Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel before facilitating Simmons's big return just last week. In hindsight, the cancelation might've been for the best. It allowed Buck to become on the best announcers in his craft, working on both his football and baseball calls to great success. Likewise, HBO found new material to work with, instead working on some solid sports documentaries and its boxing coverage.
As for Lange, well, we all learned all a valuable lesson that day...if you're starting a talk show, never...EVER...ask Artie Lange to be in the first episode.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490
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