Bill Simmons: Mid-80s Tyson reincarnated.
Bill Simmons Rumors
As The Hollywood Reporter first reported in an HBO cover story in mid-June, the ESPN cast-off will make HBO his exclusive TV home. At the premium cable network, Simmons will launch his own talk show in 2016. The weekly show, which will air on HBO’s linear service as well as HBO Go and HBO Now, will be both topical and spontaneous, with stories and guests across the sports and cultural landscape. As part of the multi-year, multi-platform pact, which begins in October, Simmons will also have a production deal to produce content for the network and its digital platforms, delivering video, podcasts and features as he did at ESPN. Additionally, the long-time sports personality will consult for HBO Sports, working closely with HBO Sports president Ken Hershman on non-boxing-related programming, including the development of shows and documentary films for the network.
“We have been fans of Bill Simmons and his work for a very long time. His intelligence, talent and insights are without precedent in the areas he covers. 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,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said in a statement Wednesday.
Lombardo won’t rule out other talk shows, too, particularly if the right personality comes along. Though he’s tight-lipped about names on his wish list, he acknowledges the soon-to-be available Jon Stewart would hold appeal. “Trust me,” he says, “I’ve already had a very polite conversation.” Considerably more likely is Simmons, whom the network is said to have made a big play for after his unceremonious booting from the more corporate ESPN. Such a move would be straight out of the HBO playbook, which famously provided a creative reprieve for former ABC flameout Bill Maher many years earlier. Though Simmons is said to have several suitors, insiders say conversations at HBO have focused on a TV show — something Simmons is believed to want — along with heavy digital extensions that make the prolific personality tailor-made for the HBO Now era.
And the network will ramp up from there, with plans for more of the addictive Robert Durst docuseries, a not-yet-announced 1970s porn drama from The Wire’s David Simon and, if all goes as planned, a platform for ESPN cast-off Bill Simmons. While HBO executives are staying mum, multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the network is in talks for a major multipart deal with the biggest media personality in sports (more on that later).
Not long ago, the Fantasy Focus podcasts, Bill Simmons’ B.S. Report, and a stable of niche podcasts were among the best on the internet; ESPN’s podcasting empire ruled the web, and more or less deserved that success. In just a matter of years, though, the dynasty has crumbled; it’s still incredibly popular (according to an ESPN fact sheet, there were 302 million podcast downloads in 2014) but what was once unique, is simply mainstream. Though the Fantasy Focus Football podcast will still feature Berry and has the potential to still be fun and interesting, once Berry and Ravitz signed off as a team for the final time, the Fantasy Focus ceased to be what it once was. It wasn’t only be the end of this podcast, but the end of the ESPN podcasting that the internet—and even many ESPN skeptics—knew and loved.
A media star that’s not even on TV right now has been voted by HoopsHype as the preeminent TV personality when it comes to NBA basketball. Bill Simmons, who recently ended his tenure with ESPN and Grantland and has been a no-show during the NBA playoffs, beat friend Jalen Rose in the final of our NBA TV bracket.