SBD/March 4, 2013/Media

Olbermann Seeks Path Back To ESPN; Skipper Indicates Return Not Imminent

Olbermann's recent overtures to ESPN include a dinner in N.Y. with John Skipper
Broadcaster Keith Olbermann and his reps at various times over the last year “have expressed interest in his return to ... ESPN,” according to James Andrew Miller of the N.Y. TIMES. Olbermann’s “expressions of interest included dinner” at N.Y.’s Four Seasons Restaurant with ESPN President John Skipper. Skipper said, “I agreed to dinner with Keith because I assumed he’d be provocative and witty and fun to have dinner with, and he was indeed lots of fun. We talked sports and politics, and we had a nice chat. He is very interesting. Clearly he was looking to see if there was an entry point to come back.” A source said that in the months since the dinner, Olbermann’s reps “have campaigned at ESPN for possible opportunities.” But Skipper “indicated that a return for Olbermann was not imminent.” Skipper: “After the dinner, at that point, there was no real appropriate place for Keith to come back, nor did I feel like I was prepared to bring him back.” Skipper added, “There’s no such thing as a condemned list. That said, this is not an easy place to get back into” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/4). ESPN's Bomani Jones wrote, "i have no inside info here, or much to say, but this sounds like somebody's running low on places to turn." Twitter Media's Ben Grossman wrote, "How long does napalm take to wear off?" Meanwhile, Deadspin's Josh Koblin wrote, "Skipper's comments a reminder to restless ESPN talent: If you leave, you're not coming back" (TWITTER.com, 3/4).

WHAT ROLE WOULD HE HAVE? AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Ken Fang writes the odds "are pretty firm against" Olbermann returning, though he speculates about what Olbermann's role would be should he come back to the net. Olbermann likely has "outgrown doing highlights on a nightly basis" on "SportsCenter." However, he could host "Baseball Tonight" on "nights when Karl Ravech is off." Fang: "With his encyclopedic knowledge, tapping Keith's mind for various documentaries could add some perspective, not to mention some colorful descriptions. And there's always the .com aspect where Keith could write for a blog on the website similar to his posts for MLBlogs.com" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 3/4).
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