Back in April, Kristine Leahy left her role as update anchor on The Herd (a position since filled by Joy Taylor) for an upcoming 30-minute show on FS1 this fall. We now have some more details on that thanks to Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News, who interviewed Mike Antinoro about the forthcoming show. Antinoro is the senior vice president of IMG Original Content and is developing Leahy’s show, which will air at some point in the 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern block on FS1 (paired with the new gambling show, replacing the old Speak For Yourself, which is moving earlier) and he said it will use inspirations like ESPN’s old Up Close (which ran from 1981 to 2001, with Roy Firestone as host from 1981-94, followed by Chris Myers and Gary Miller in that role).
Antinoro told McCarthy the idea is to rediscover the “lost art” of long-form sports interviews:
“We felt like the long-form interview is kind of a lost art these days when it comes to sports,” said Antinoro. “That could be because of the proliferation of so much media — and so much accessibility to athletes. They almost can put their own interviews up on any media they want to. We want to have a real conversation.”
Antinoro is certainly right that athletes are taking a larger role than ever in telling their own stories, whether that’s with TV specials, The Players’ Tribune, Uninterrupted, partnerships with companies like Bleacher Report, their own social media ventures and more. But there are still plenty of long-form interviews out there in sports TV, from the extended conversations on many editions of SportsCenter to guest appearances on ESPN and FS1 shows to specifically interview-focused shows like Audience’s Undeniable. A key question for Leahy may be how hers will stand out. We won’t know the full details there until the show gets closer, but McCarthy’s piece did have an interesting note to add about where this will be shot:
Unlike other FS1 shows, Leahy won’t broadcast from the network’s Los Angeles studios. Instead, she’ll go on location to the homes, gyms and workplaces of her subjects.
…Getting out of the studio setting and into the homes and workplaces of interview subjects will hopefully make them open up more, Antinoro said.
“We will try to keep it as comfortable and casual as possible so we really are looking in on a conversation with Kristine and (her subject),” he added.
That’s an interesting idea, and something that certainly will differentiate this from the traditional in-studio interviews. And there’s some merit to subjects being most comfortable in their own homes; behind-the-scenes documentaries like Tom vs. Time have found some success with that approach. However, sending Leahy (and presumably a camera crew) around the country to different subjects’ homes and workplaces would seem likely to carry some significant production costs. We’ll see how this turns out and if it proves to be worth it for Fox.