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Bill Simmons is the kind of guy who likes to take conversations to places that sports starts and celebrities don't always go to in interviews, which is why his podcast is such a hit. The former ESPN employee will kick things up a notch for his newest project, the HBO talk show Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, and while updates about the show's formatting and approach have been largely cloaked behind the shadows of Game of Thrones and Veep, Simmons has finally loosened his lips regarding what viewers can expect from the show.
For one, this won't be the hour-long telecast that the network's late night schedule is peppered with, and the half-hour episodes will be more in tune with what showrunner and Daily Show vet Stuart Miller is used to. Just without commercials. While live airings were considered, Bill Simmons decided to tape Any Given Wednesday episodes on Tuesday evenings on a stage without a studio audience watching, so that it's just him, the camera and his guests. That will hopefully retain the same up close and personal atmosphere of his podcasts.
The plan is for each week's episode to start with Bill Simmons taking on a story that's making big headlines, either in the world of sports of pop culture, putting his signature outspokenness front and center. Then come the interviews, with the first one being a 10 to 12-minute talk with two guests simultaneously, and Simmons has big ideas for how he wants to incorporate this. While he cops to things possibly getting down to the point where he's interviewing fifth-string actors from CW shows, one big idea he gave THR was getting New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, two public curmudgeons not known for being that way in private, together for a talk to try and flip the pair's terrible interview stereotype. He'd like to get, you know, Michelle Obama in there as well.
The second interview would put the focus on just one person, and though the aired version would be of a similar length as the first, the goal is to record longer interviews to pare down to the best info. Simmons wants people from Hollywood, sports and the tech world, namechecking Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Louis C.K. and Charles Barkley as some he'd want on his show in the early days.
The show would then end on some kind of a scripted bit, but Simmons isn't saying much about what to expect from that. Will this be Any Given Wednesday's Moment of Zen? Or even one of Jerry Springer's Final Thoughts?
Though Bill Simmons isn't a host that was born from years of winning audiences over on stage or playing crowds for laughs on TV, he gets to tailor-make Any Given Wednesday to whatever format suits him best. And you can find out just what that format is on Wednesday, June 22, on HBO. And then stay tuned for more collaborations between Simmons and HBO in the future.