AA has just received an advanced copy of Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN, written by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. Yes, it's true, the book does come in at 745 pages. It's an impressive piece of work. Judging from the excerpts released and what I've been able to skim through so far, the book will certainly be worth the read. Off the top, the first thing I wanted to investigate was ESPN's Monday Night Football booth and the Tony Kornheiser experiment, especially after reading this tweet from Deitsch. Was there any animosity behind the scenes regarding TK on MNF? The book makes it clear that Tirico and Kornheiser's working relationship was terrible and their lack of chemistry led to TK's ultimate departure from the MNF booth and the arrival of Jon Gruden. Below are actual excerpts from Those Guys on Kornheiser, Tirico, and Monday Night Football...
The football game is surrounded by a bevy of wide-ranging opinions in the pregame shows, the postgame shows, and the talk shows during the week. People come to the game for the game itself. So we were trying to make what Tony does best - strong opinions - work within the body of the game; that was the challenge.
We had a lot of philosophical disagreements, especially about the extent to which it was an entertainment show. When they had guests in the booth, many of them stunk beyond words. I was for MNF as I remembered it as a child with Cosell and Meredith and Gifford, but Mike really just wanted to be the play by play guy on MNF...
Early on together I said, "Mike you know what really works well on PTI is when Mike and I talk over each other -" and he cut me off right there and says, "That's a nice little studio show, but MNF is very important, so don't ever interrupt me when I'm talking."... for two years he didn't even look at me.
Look, am I happy now? Absolutely. In PTI, I've got the best show in America... But I thought I could have been better on MNF... But the happiest guy in America today is Mike Tirico, because I'm not in that booth and he's got a coach, so he doesn't have to worry about anything else.
Tirico's always been nice to me, and I think he's a talented guy, but I thought how he acted was unforgivable, and I continue to feel bad for Tony... I had watched all of those Kornheiser games thinking, "If I was in that spot, and the expectation was that I was supposed to entertain, and had this guy with me who was subtly undermining me, changing the subject on me and greeting my jokes with dead silence, I would eventually strangle this person on live TV." Kornheiser is a better person than I am, apparently.
Tirico doesn't sell for Tony for three f*cking years, then has the gall to say nice things about him after Tony leaves? Come on. What kills me is that Tony got the rap for blowing this when nobody on the planet can succeed in TV if their play-by-play guy isn't selling them. Five minutes into their first regular-season Monday night game, Tirico had already laughed at more Gruden jokes than he did for three years of Kornheiser.
Wow. A few thoughts on this excerpt and what I've gathered from the media coverage and other excerpts thus far...