Keith Olbermann and ESPN have apparently patched things up after a long public feud. He will rejoin the network with a new late-night talk show that will air at 11 P.M. ET on weeknights starting August 26.
Titled "Olbermann", the hour-long show "will focus on the day's relevant sports topics through a mix of perspective and commentary, interviews, contributors, panel discussions and highlights." ESPN President John Skipper stresses that the show will not delve into politics, saying, "If politics happens to intersect with sports ... we would expect Keith to have some point of view there."
Olbermann says of his return to the Disney-owned sports channel, "I've been gone for 16 years and not one day in that time has passed without someone connecting me to the network. Our histories are indelibly intertwined and frankly I have long wished that I had the chance to make sure the totality of that story would be a completely positive one."
"I don't want that to be in the obituary. I don't want that to be the end of the story," he adds about his decision to rebuild his bridge with the network, hoping to "put a different ending to my relationship with ESPN." He goes on stating, "We can't go back and undue everything that happened 20 years ago but I would to do my best to correct as much of it as I can and I appreciate the fresh start."
"I'm as excited about that prospect as I am about the show itself and I'm pretty excited about the show," Olbermann says of his attempt to make amends. "I could apologize a 1,000 times and we could get anybody whoever took offense to anything I ever did and bring them all into one place -- we probably need Yankee Stadium -- and I point to everybody and say 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry' and we could do it that way or I could do it as a mass blanket thing...but practically speaking....all that is going to make difference is how I conduct myself."
Olbermann left ESPN in 1997 after being suspended for not gaining the network's prior approval to appear on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show", which was hosted by former ESPN colleague Craig Kilborn. Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, says that Olbermann is "still one of the biggest names that ever came out of " ESPN.
The 54-year-old later landed hosting stints on NBC's and Fox's sports shows. He was also hosting political commentary program "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on Current TV from 2011 to 2012, before he was fired by the network for breach of contract. The network claimed at the time that that Olbermann no longer respected the network's "values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers."