Earlier today, FOX Sports conducted a press call to unveil the roster for FOX Sports LIVE, the flagship news, opinion and highlights program airing nightly on FOX Sports 1, America’s new sports network launching, Saturday, Aug. 17. Sports personality Charissa Thompson, NBA great Gary Payton and past NFL stars Donovan McNabb and Ephraim Salaam join tennis legend Andy Roddick to provide analysis and commentary for FOX SPORTS LIVE. Thompson, Payton, McNabb and Salaam joined FOX Sports Co-President and COO Eric Shanks, FOX Sports Executive Vice President, Studio Production, Scott Ackerson, and FOX SPORTS LIVE Executive Producer Michael Hughes to make the announcement.
As previously announced, FOX SPORTS LIVE is primarily anchored by the dynamic Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole with breaking news and updates throughout the day from Don Bell and Ryan Field, with contributions from correspondents Molly McGrath and Julie Stewart-Binks.
Eric Shanks on FOX SPORTS LIVE: “There is an appetite for a show that has a consistent cast of people giving insight and opinion, as well as a tremendous amount of highlights from throughout the sports world. This is a group you’ll want to sit down with every night, maybe have a beer with and hear their opinions. You’re going to get attached to this core cast. You’re going to want to make an appointment at 11:00 PM to sit down and see what the crew is doing.”
Scott Ackerson on the direction of FOX SPORTS LIVE and what it’s setting out to do: “What is not out there? What can we create that currently isn’t being done? That’s the approach that we took to the show…The foundation will be the amount of highlights that are done by Jay and Dan, but we also noticed that there wasn’t any type of opinion-based discussions in any of the late-night show. They were centered on around the next and rehashing the previous day.
Ackerson on the cast: “We went into this project to find people that we believe could speak intelligently on multiple topics, would be interesting, can be serious when they need to be serious but could have fun when they needed to have fun. That was the kind of show that we are looking to put on and hopefully when viewers tune in and see it they will enjoy it and get the news they need and can also talk intelligently about what is happening in the world of sports.”
Salaam, Payton, McNabb and Thompson on what excites them most about joining FOX SPORTS LIVE:
Salaam: “What excites me most is being able to have live on air discussions with Gary, Donovan, Charissa, and Andy. To be sitting with people I have grown up respecting and playing against in some aspects. We have great personalities in our group and watching Jay (Onrait) and Dan (O’Toole) do their thing is going to be exciting. Those who don’t know them aren’t ready for what they’re bringing.”
Payton: “I’m not just a basketball fan, I’m a sports fan. We’re going to have a great time because we get along together, and we have a lot of insight of everything. We’re going to have fun.”
McNabb: “We believe the viewers and listeners want to hear Andy give his insight about basketball and football. They want to hear Ephraim and I give our insights about basketball, track, NASCAR, etc. They want to hear something different instead of us just talking about our given sport because that’s easy. They want to hear our insight and see how deep and prepared we are to talk about all these given sports. Its energy, excitement, little bit of laughter, some seriousness, but most importantly we’re being informative for everyone that’s watching.”
Thompson: “It’s the combination of being entertained, having fun, and not taking ourselves to seriously. On the flip side, if there is a serious story then we’ll be able to get into it and use these former professional athletes’ own experiences to draw from. It’s my job as the host to be able to bring that out. We’ve had the pleasure of doing some rehearsals over the last few days, and even talking about Jason Kidd being the new Brooklyn Nets head coach and how that’s going to work with him being so closely removed from the game. Gary had the same experience with Nate McMillan. So being able to draw upon experience and really open up the discussion is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Salaam talk about their on-air chemistry:
Salaam: “We genuinely have chemistry with each other, whether we’re on camera or not. That’s the thing we really found out when we all got in a room together. It didn’t have to be on set. It could’ve been out at dinner. It was just a genuine like and respect for each person and each person’s opinion was respected and listened to. You build rapport and you’re able to really enjoy having a conversation, and that’s the thing.”
Michael Hughes on covering all sports, not just the major ones: “Obviously, we’re going to cover the major sports but, with FOX Sports 1 and a lot of the properties that we have, we certainly won’t ignore any of the sports that will appear on our network whether its soccer, UFC or any of the NASCAR motor sports. We’ll certainly pay attention to those things, but I think the show will be a reflection of what the national conversation is. Whatever the story is, we’ll rise to the top regardless of what sport it comes from.”
Ackerson and Shanks respond to who the show’s target audience is and the format for FOX SPORTS LIVE:
Ackerson: “Our crew is pretty young and I hope, like any other show, that younger viewers would like to watch this but we don’t exclude any viewers. I believe that, with the type of people we have, both young and older viewers will enjoy the insights of these individuals. People watch sports to have a good time and to get a break from their lives. And that’s kind of the philosophy we’ve had, whether it’s been our pregame shows or our game operation.”
Shanks: “It’s really two shows in one. You have Jay and Dan at the update desk. You have Charissa, Gary, Donovan, Andy, Ephraim and other experts from other sports joining as needed. This show has a lot of different gears and that is why we want to make sure that we can go in a lot of different directions and actually add a bit of spontaneity to sports television. The beauty about sports, and why people watch it, is you never know what’s going to happen.”
Ackerson on how FOX SPORTS LIVE will react when serious news breaks: “If serious breaking news happens we will approach it accordingly. We have reporters in a number of different locations, whether it be our writers at FOXSports.com, or our personnel with our different properties whether it be with soccer, or NFL, or what have you. And if serious news happens just as with any other news organizations, we switch into serious mode and try to gather as many facts as humanly possible, try to gather the correct facts. We’re going to try to be right rather than be first. One of the things I’ve seen in terms of media nowadays is there’s a race to be first. I’d rather be right than be first, if first is wrong. I can’t stress that enough. I believe that, there has been a sense that right doesn’t necessarily matter as much as being first. And I personally find that appalling.”