Keith Olbermann returned to sports reporting full time Monday, debuting his new show on ESPN2
, some 16 years after the high-decibel sports anchor left the network's sports desk to become a left-wing talking head.
The show "Olbermann" was free of politics, even though he could not resist taking a shot at his fellow media cohorts at the New York Daily News on the first episode.
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Josh Feldman, of the website Mediaite, said Olbermann picked up the sports anchor role
easily in his first show.
"Despite the new subject matter, Olbermann is still the same guy from the old "Countdown" days," Feldman said. "His opening story, about the New York Jets, coach Rex Ryan, and some sports writer, was replete with his unique sense of humor, including silly voices while reading quotes, and tongue-in-cheek graphics, including the now-infamous of Will Smith and his family staring at whatever the hell happened at the VMAs."
Scott Pierce, a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune, wrote Friday that Olbermann's past hosting ventures
have always started well and real question is whether the volatile host can keep himself in check.
"The man is the Mount Vesuvius of TV personalities," Pierce said in Tribune column on Friday. "He famously feuded with and ultimately stormed away from his bosses at ESPN, MSNBC and Current. He’s also worked for CNN, several local TV stations, Fox, ABC Radio and NBC. But Olbermann said things will be different this time, that he has 'figured out what parts of it were my fault' during his first tenure at ESPN."
Jamie Horowitz, ESPN's vice president for original programming and production, told the New York Times that Olbermann
has been "incredibly responsive" to handlers and staff. Horowitz said the way Olbermann has acted so far is far from the host's reputation as "incorrigible" and "contentious."
"He’s been accountable and willing to do things," Horowitz said. "Even if I want to change a word in his script, he’s said, 'O.K., Jamie, I’ll change it.' The format plays to why people like Keith -- strong commentary, insights and his unique gift for communicating."
Olbermann will be reviving his "Worst Person in the World" segment where he used to skewer political opponents from his MSNBC "Countdown" days, but the new segment has been modified for the sports world, and Olbermann told the New York Times it will be "more gentle and sarcastic."
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