SBD/May 23, 2011/Media

Latest Excerpt From ESPN Book Deals With Ebersol's Early Interview With The Net

One excerpt from the book, "Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN," tells the story of when Dick Ebersol interviewed to be the second president of ESPN. Ebersol interviewed with Stuart Evey, who was the Getty Oil exec who provided much of the funding for ESPN in the early days (THE DAILY).

Ebersol: Stu invited me to a meeting in late June of 1979, and we met late in the afternoon. I was well-read enough as a kid to understand that these people were right of the Reichstag. This was no great middle-of-the-road American institution, this was Getty Oil. I found it so odd that they were really going to fund this wacky idea where you get a satellite and people everywhere could watch Connecticut sports. ... Anyway, Evey seemed intrigued by me but I didn't hear anything for four or five days, so I called him up late one afternoon and said we should have another conversation. We met at a restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in the Valley that was a favorite of his. Except for maybe some college escapade, there was more alcohol poured that night than any other night of my life. I'm not a drinker, but he just kept pouring and pouring. It's one of only two times in my life I went in the bathroom and put my fingers down my throat to throw up so I could go back and take more of this while this guy went on. I was very much intrigued by the job.

Evey: The major player who had the most to do with our broadcasting end of the business was Ed Hookstratten. Ed had a reputation of being the most powerful man, agent-wise, in the business.

Ebersol: This guy Stu was talking to said I was absolutely wrong, too young and too opinionated for the job. I put A and B together and figured out who was saying these things ­-- Hookstratten --­ but I couldn't get him on the phone. He didn't know me. So I called Dick Martin from Rowan & Martin, who was a personal friend, and told him, "I think there's a great opportunity for me which would allow me to go home to Connecticut. Can you help me with Hookstratten?" He called Hookstratten and said I love this kid, been around him for the last three or four years, he's terrific, blah, blah, blah. So I went and saw Hook, and he, of course, said, "No, I'm not saying anything about you at all." He wouldn't own up to it. A day or two passed and I called Bill Rasmussen and I said, "I just don't see how this can go anywhere, it's clear to me that Evey has bought whatever Hook has told him." So I'm exiting stage right from this whole thing. I'm going to guess this might have been the third or fourth week of June.

Evey: At that time, Dick Ebersol and his wife --­ I forget what her name is, but she was an actress --­ had recently been married on the beach in bare feet and swimming trunks and they were part of the wild culture at that time. I don't know quite how to explain it, but I could not see him with that kind of publicity working with and for Getty Oil Company.

BOOK GOOD, BUT TOO LONG: NEWSDAY's Neil Best wrote the book, written by Jim Miller and Tom Shales, delivers "with some caveats." It is "too long, by a couple of hundred pages." Best: "While juicy excerpts circulating on the Internet have focused on on-air personalities, at its core this is a business book, one focused on the birth and growth of a sports media monolith as told by the executives who made it happen." The "endless parade of dueling egos is enlightening, engrossing and a little depressing," but some of the "hard-core business-oriented stories are not for everyone" (NEWSDAY, 5/22). In Toronto, Raju Mudhar writes "Those Guys Have All The Fun" is a "media business book addressing the rise of cable television." If there is "one take-away, it's that the 'E' in their network's title could easily stand for 'ego,' both on-air and behind the scenes." The first part of the book "kind of dragged," but it "gets going as the network begins to grow." ESPN.com is "given pretty short shrift," and the book's interview format "doesn't lend itself to paint a clear picture of the many executives and behind-the-scenes staff." Mudhar: "Overall, the book has its tedious moments, but alternately fascinating ones, too, and the authors have a good ear for telling short, amusing anecdotes" (TORONTO STAR, 5/23).
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