HBO picks up former ESPN sports commentator Bill Simmons

23 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bill Simmons Bringing Talk Show, Video Podcast to HBO.

Simmons parted ways with ESPN in May. The multi-year contract was announced on Wednesday by President of HBO Programming, Michael Lombardo, “We could not be more thrilled for him to bring those talents to HBO and to become a signature voice at the network, spanning the sports and pop culture landscapes.” Beginning in October, HBO will be the “exclusive television home” of the founding editor of Grantland.com.Bill Simmons will take up with HBO after his ouster from ESPN, in a move that will have the revered sportswriter host a weekly talk show on the Time Warner pay-cable service starting in 2016.In preparation for Simmons’ grand entrance on HBO, Bleacher Report put together some mashups of the “Sports Guy” and his new network’s biggest shows.

The centerpiece of the multi-year agreement, which begins in October, is Simmons’ own talk show, but he’ll also have a hand in HBO Sports’ other non-boxing programming, including the development of new series and documentaries. According to a press release, Simmons will be occupied with producing content for cable and digital audiences with a show and video podcasts and features.

The pact between the two, which becomes effective in October, sets up what HBO called “a comprehensive partnership on a variety of platforms between the network and Simmons.” The talk show, expected to feature guests from the worlds of sports and culture, will also appear on HBO Go, the company’s on-demand service for subscribers, and HBO Now, its stand-alone broadband service. He will not be involved in the company’s boxing coverage. “We have been fans of Bill Simmons and his work for a very long time,” said Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president of programming, in a prepared statement. “His intelligence, talent and insights are without precedent in the areas he covers.

He was also the founder of and columnist for the ESPN-owned Grantland, a sports-and-culture Web site, and a co-founder of the network’s critically lauded “30-for-30” series of sports documentaries. As noted by Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch and James Andrew Miller, co-author of the definitive history of ESPN, this deal means Simmons may be announcing a home for digital writing in the future. The Walt Disney-owned sports media outlet has been scrutinizing its cost structure in the wake of rising fees for sports rights and a decline in subscribers. But the Backstreet Boys and ‘NSync have officially buried the hatchet – and a couple of zombies – by teaming up to make a horror film with the movie studio behind the hit SyFy franchise Sharknado. “It’s a zombie Western futuristic horror movie,” Backstreet Boy Nick Carter tells Rolling Stone. “My character is still being worked out right now, but I’m a good guy that’s going to help save the day.” Carter will write and star in the post-apocalyptic drama, tentatively titled Dead 7, about a “ragtag band of gunslingers” fighting a zombie plague.

While it looks like Simmons won’t be writing — the talent that brought him from freelance contributor to major voice at ESPN — he won’t be abandoning his roots completely. ESPN recently declined to sign noted sportscaster Keith Olbermann to a new deal and lost out in a bidding war for the services of noted radio personality Colin Cowherd, who is expected to unveil an agreement to join Fox Sports at some time in the near future. A weekly Simmons program would join the ranks of “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” – programs that analyze the events of the week with a decidedly gimlet eye-view. In the months since Skipper announced Simmons’ ESPN exit, speculation ran rampant as to where the former “Boston Sports Guy,” would end up next, with Fox Sports, Turner/Bleacher Report, Viceamong the possible candidates being mentioned in addition to HBO. “It’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape,” Simmons said in a statement released by HBO. “From the moment I started talking to Michael and Richard [Plepler, HBO chairman and CEO], it was hard to imagine being anywhere else.” Simmons’ new deal comes on the heels of ESPN announcing that it will also be parting ways with high-profile talents Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd.

HBO in March unveiled plans to launch a five-day-a-week newscast from Vice Media, the upstart news outlet that covers a range of topics with reportage that makes the viewer feel as if he or she were on the scene. HBO has not been a major player in sports programming, but it has televised championship boxing matches, aired sports documentaries and talk programs. If nothing else, the film should be revered by both bands’ fans for being the catalyst that brought BSB and ‘NSync together after two decades. “We’ve never done anything together collectively,” Fatone acknowledges. “People always think [we’re] some sort of rivals.

The programming garners HBO attention and keeps the network in the pop-culture mix, yet costs significantly less than many of the scripted programs that have made the network a creative force, like “Game of Thrones.” Simmons would likely straddle the area between HBO’s sports content and the news-based series. Now we’re setting the record straight by doing a film together.” 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

Bernie Sanders is nominally a socialist, or at least he sorta-kinda calls himself one. “Do they think I’m afraid of the word?” he mused in a recent interview with The Nation. “I’m not afraid of the word.” When The Washington Post gave him the opportunity to disavow the epithet during his 2006 Senate run, Sanders stood firm: “I wouldn’t deny it,” he said. “Not for one second. I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he’s a socialist.” In apparent violation of this supposed cover-up, The Daily Beast’s Ana Marie Cox has labeled Sanders an “extremist” “caricature” who amounts to “the Left’s Trump.” The Week’s Damon Linker was also tempted by the Sanders-Trump comparison, calling them “unelectable radicals,” and noting that Sanders “shows little interest in tailoring his message to woo the masses.” Yet, despite his inescapable affiliation with the s-word – long considered a politically fatal liability – and his reported contempt for the masses’ sensibilities, Sanders continues to draw enormous crowds, outpace Hillary Clinton in attracting small donations and generate great enthusiasm, even among groups conventional wisdom doggedly insists will refuse to embrace his candidacy.

That these throngs – energized by Sanders’ egalitarian economic advocacy, support for worker empowerment and hostility to what he calls “the billionaire class” – are not noticeably put off by the description of these qualities as socialist, as opposed to merely “progressive,” raises the question: Why doesn’t Sanders avail himself of this political latitude and run on a more socialistic policy program? Of the “12 Steps Forward” in his “Agenda for America,” none diverge from the policies advocated by Sanders’ fellow members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In fact, with the exception of “Creating Worker Co-ops,” “Trade Policies that Benefit American Workers” and “Health Care as a Right for All,” none of the items would seem out of place in a stump speech or State of the Union address by President Obama. For now, this sort of platform constitutes the leftmost bounds of mainstream policy discourse, but there is plenty of room to stretch leftward through advocacy of “non-reformist reforms” – those that, in the words of French philosopher André Gorz, “advance toward a radical transformation of society,” producing a “modification of the relations of power” and thus “serv[ing] to weaken capitalism and to shake its joints.” On the other hand, an increase in the minimum wage – to use one example from Sanders’ platform – yields a host of advantages for working people, and plainly excites the opposition of the capitalist class, but it neither socializes ownership claims on capital, nor fundamentally changes the power relations between workers and owners, nor incites a process that yields equality as reliably as capitalism yields inequality. Running on a platform with a non-reformist reform at its core would serve Sanders’ pro-equality political project, even if he should lose to Clinton and her mountains of corporate cash.

Once one of these off-the-agenda items is named, articulated and argued for – once people are familiarized with a program’s contours, rationale and merits – it is much easier to mobilize support for an idea. People for Bernie (whose open letter encouraging Sanders to run I signed) may hope for an ongoing political organization, such as emerged from the insurgent candidacy of Sanders’ fellow Vermonter, former Gov.

The more attention and enthusiasm his candidacy garners, the more favorable the terrain will be for Sanders to pry open the boundaries of policy consideration. Under this program, the federal government would act as the “employer of last resort”; it could hire the unemployed for its own national projects, funnel money to states and municipalities or let communities design their own projects and apply for funding. It would magnify worker power by providing an exit from the job market, thereby setting minimum standards for all sorts for private sector employment. It would allow communities that currently rely on prisons to close them without toppling the local economy, thereby enabling the type of mass decarceration Sanders would do well to advocate forcefully, the better to make up for his recent blunder at Netroots Nation.

It would promote ecological sustainability by making full employment independent of the resource extraction sector, by paying for low-emissions employment like elder- and childcare and by providing resources for pollution-reducing infrastructure renovation. It would practically establish a public option for health care, since those availing themselves of the program would receive normal benefits for a federal employee. Nor is this some bizarre, far-fetched idea that would hike Sanders’ already uncomfortably high degree of Seeming Kooky: even without inclusion on the agenda of any mainstream political actors, a job guarantee already polls at 47 percent. Ironically, no one touts the merits of guaranteed public employment more vigorously than modern monetary theorists like Stephanie Kelton, the chief economist for the Democratic staff on the Sanders-chaired Senate Budget Committee.

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