SBD/September 9, 2013/Media

Eminem's "Awkward" Notre Dame-Michigan Appearance Explained

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Bill Bonnell, the Exec Producer for ESPN's "Saturday Night Football" broadcast, defended rapper Eminem's much-talked about appearance in the booth during Notre Dame-Michigan Saturday night, claiming what fans "did not immediately recognize was that Eminem took on the persona" of a character in his latest music video, according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. A clip of the video for "Berzerk" aired prior to ESPN showing Eminem in the booth, and Bonnell said, "He was just messing with everyone. ... You clearly saw after the video was over, he became Marshall Mathers again. He was goofing around." Bonnell said that Eminem arrived at Michigan Stadium "with a small group in the second quarter, and hung out on an ESPN bus for 10 minutes before ESPN escorted him to a room next to the broadcast booth." Prior to the interview, Bonnell described Eminem as "legitimately nervous doing a live interview." The rapper spoke with ESPN's Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit before the interview began and asked them, "How do you guys do live TV week to week?" Deitsch reported "Berzerk" will become the intro for "SNF" beginning next week, and ESPN last Thursday "shot its opening featuring the song" (SI.com 9/8).

WILL THE REAL SLIM SHADY PLEASE STAND UP? The AP noted Eminem initially seemed "slightly confused, with his mouth hanging open," but he soon "seemed to relax." The rapper "rarely does interviews, and certainly not live on ESPN" (AP, 9/8). In N.Y., Ethan Sacks noted Eminem began the "awkward three-minute, 44-second interview without making eye-contact" with Musburger and Herbstreit, then was "swiveling his head slowly and not blinking." Eminem appeared to "hit his stride when the conversation turned" to his hometown Lions (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 9/8). ROLLING STONE's Miriam Coleman wrote Eminem looked "distinctly out of sorts and vaguely alarmed." When asked what excited him about the Nov. 5 release of his new album, he said, "Nothing" (ROLLINGSTONE.com, 9/8). NBC's Al Roker said Eminem had a "deer-in-the-headlights look" during the appearance. Google's Daniel Sieberg said the appearance was "just one of those buzzy moments," but the interview was "actually quite congenial towards the end." NBC's Willie Geist said Eminem in the beginning when he had a blank look on his face "was acting, trying to get some attention." It got "less weird as it went" ("Today," NBC, 9/9). SI.com's Stewart Mandel writes it was an "awkwardly forced cross-promotional segment that some ESPN exec probably pegged as a really cool idea for the 18-to-35 crowd" (SI.com, 9/9).

TWITTER REAX: Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer wrote, "I've now watched that Eminem booth visit close to 10 times, and I still find myself cringing. Holy awkward." ESPN’s Sage Steele: “I'm covering my eyes watching @Eminem w Musberger right now... Is it over yet? #iCant.” NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski: "Just caught up on the eminem interview during the football game. #WowwwW." The National Post's Bruce Arthur: "Eminem and Brent Musburger just woke up in a hotel room with a baby in the closet and a tiger in their bathroom." Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson: "Eminem's appearance at halftime of UM-ND was truly Andy Kaufman-esque. After watching it again, he obviously meant for it to be that way."
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