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SBD/Issue 213/Sports Media
Frankly, My Dear: ESPN To Unveil Stephen A. Smith Talk Show
Published August 1, 2005
Smith’s Talk Show Premieres
On ESPN2 Tonight
FRANKLY SPEAKING: Smith is also profiled by SI’s Karl Taro Greenfeld, who writes Smith is “the most despised sports personality on the air today.” He has become “to sports punditry what Rush Limbaugh is to political analysis and James Cramer is to business news: the final triumph of bluster and confidence over content, of point of view over facts, of opinion over objectivity.” But Greenfeld notes Smith’s addition to ESPN’s “NBA Shootaround” led to a 17% ratings increase. Shapiro said he brought up Smith’s name at a production meeting in ’03 and “there were 28 people in the room, and they were all vehement: ‘No way, never, never!’ I said, ‘We’ve gotta get this guy in here.’” Smith said of those who “criticize him for being too cozy” with his subjects, “I think these people have a problem with the way that I convey my thoughts and my opinions. They have a problem with the fact that I’m in their face and I’m not backing up.” Smith added that “Quite Frankly” will “stay away from teleprompterized monologues and softball questions lobbed fawningly at guests” (SI, 8/1 issue). Smith, on the show’s format: “I hate using it, but the closest thing to it is an Oprah, a Larry King” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/31).
SPINOFF: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand reports ESPN has already “planned for a spinoff” in October called “Quite Frankly: Afterthoughts,” a show “inspired by Oprah Winfrey’s ‘After the Show,’” in which viewers will “see Smith chat with his ... studio audiences.” Hiestand notes the idea came from ESPN’s new media packaging unit, which also “helped create ‘X Center,’ which follows ‘BassCenter’ as the second ‘SportsCenter’ spinoff and will premiere Thursday on ESPN2” to run during the X Games (USA TODAY, 8/1).