In a feature on Keith Olbermann and his hyped return to ESPN, the Hollywood Reporter might have buried the lede 17 paragraphs deep with this interesting tidbit regarding Olbermann's new late-night program, which launches Aug. 26 on ESPN2.
Olbermann's producers have reached out to former president George W. Bush, the same Bush KO crusaded against for years, as a potential guest for the new ESPN2 show:
"There is nothing in his ESPN contract that precludes him from talking about politics. His producers already have reached out to George W. Bush, a former owner of the Texas Rangers. They have yet to receive a yes — or a no. (The radio silence might be attributed to the former president's recent heart surgery.) And Olbermann also would like to have President Barack Obama as a guest. But his forays into politics only will be as it relates to sports."
Olbermann will also revive his "Worst Persons in the World" segment from MSNBC's Countdown, which goes to show how much the Worldwide Leader is willing to bend over backwards in order to not only have Olbermann on the roster, but to keep him happy. It should be noted that the producer prominently mentioned in the piece is Jamie Horowitz, who unleashed First Take on the masses.
Will this unique brand of late-night sports/news talk help ESPN in its attempt to keep Fox Sports at bay? I'm not sure. I for one am fascinated, but lots of sports fans might have a problem with political talk, especially if it means George W. Bush making appearances. For what it's worth, Barack Obama's name was also thrown out as a wanted guest for the show.
Regardless, Olbermann talking baseball with "Mr. Bush" would likely perform well in terms of viewership, merely because both are such controversial figures (to wildly different degrees, of course) and Olbermann's history of enraged special comments aimed in Bush's direction.
Sports and politics have plenty in common, so crossing paths makes sense at some level. Bringing Bush on does, too, at least from a "must see TV" perspective. But will dipping into Olbermann's political past score ESPN points or cost it even more in terms of the network's reputation among viewers and observers alike? That's the question.