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23 Feb 2004

ESPN Gets Real: Dream Job Week 1

Reviewed by Patrick Laverty

(This week we try something new... this show is, of course, not strictly football-related, but we know some of you are watching it and we thought it might be fun to provide a weekly summary.  Let us know if you would like to see this continue, or if you would rather just play Okama Gamesphere.  -- Aaron)

Reality shows crossing over into the sports entertainment world. First the WWE gave a one-year contract to a young hopeful and now ESPN is doing something similar with their new series "Dream Job". ESPN held open auditions and cut a field of 10,000 down to 12 finalists. The first show, hosted by Stuart "Boo-Yah" Scott, aired last night, Sunday February 22nd.

The show had all 12 finalists in-studio, but only six competed. The other six will compete next Sunday night.

The competition is simple; each of the competitors created their own SportsCenter segment using video highlights, wrote the copy and uses the teleprompter. Each segment is approximately two minutes where they then must face the panel of four judges. The selected judges for the competition are Tony Kornheiser, from Pardon the Interruption, Kit Hoover, host of Cold Pizza, LaVar Arrington, Redskins linebacker, and Al Jaffe, ESPN's VP for on air talent. The fifth judge is the ESPN audience. Each week, the five judges will choose one person to go home.

The six who competed last night included Aaron Levine, a 21 year old from Stanford who got a golf tip from Tiger himself. Chris Williams, a lawyer from Boston, Michael Quigley, a very energetic 40 year old auto parts salesman from Pennsylvania, Mike Hall, a Mizzou student and Craig Kilborn look-alike, Nick Stevens, a comedian from Brooklyn and finally, the favorite of Football Outsiders, Maggie Haskins, a current Brown University student from Chicago.

Mike Hall's number got called first, and in my opinion, nailed it. He added the cerebral phrase "northpaw" when referring to Oakland pitcher Aaron Harang. He looked good, sounded good, and seemed about ready for prime time. Even the judges agreed, as the only thing they could offer was to slow down. Levine and Haskins were the next two best, with Levine getting a slight edge. His highlights were good, timing was excellent, but I'm not sure of the look. Sure, he's only 21, but he looks more like 14. Haskins had a great showing, although as the judges also pointed out, she needed to go to the video a little bit quicker. A little too much face time as she recounted the time when she beat her own sister at tennis. Stevens and Williams were good, though both stumbled and seemed to get a little confused at times with the teleprompter. The both finished well as Stevens added a new catch-phrase referring to "man tears" as an Indy car driver flipped over. Williams finished with a hockey highlight and exclaimed "Who said a brother can't do a hockey highlight?" The "feel bad for you" guy of the night was Michael "Quigs" Quigley, who looks like a cross of Louie Anderson and Chris Farley, and he has all of Farley's energy. He's entertaining, he's a screamer, and he can be funny, though he had a tough time transitioning from screaming at the end of one highlight into a calmer beginning of the next. Also, he called one highlight like a play-by-play guy, which for anyone who's seen SportsCenter knows, that just ain't the way it's done.

The judges were an interesting lot as well. Kornheiser initially was trying to be the funny one, but one of the later judges would have scored very well on the Boston Sports Guy's Unintentional Comedy Scale. LaVar Arrington as a judge was just absolutely horrible. When it came to his turn to judge one of the contestants, he started every one with "I agree" and then went on to repeat what the other judges already said. Sure, he's a jock an not a commentator, but come on, get someone who has something to offer. The only time he did attempt humor, it wasn't even funny. Watching him was about as painful as some of the hits he lays on NFC East quarterbacks. Kit Hoover is the lone woman on the judging panel and offered some good feedback, and really sticks to the positive. I don't think anyone got brought down by Kit. The true gem of the judging panel though, is Al Jaffe. Every on-air personality at ESPN has had to sit across from Jaffe and prove to him that they belong on SportsCenter. Even when other judges thought a contestant did great, Jaffe still had some constructive criticism. He also saved his best for last, when he told Nick Stevens that he just doesn't have the look for SportsCenter. You could just feel that kick in the gut.

Posted by: on 23 Feb 2004