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When you’re one of the more studied and engaging standouts in your field, the amount of time that passes in between jobs usually isn’t going to be markedly pronounced. So it goes with sports and pop culture voice Bill Simmons, who will take his post-ESPN days over to the raucous and ribald world of HBO for a huge exclusive deal. I’m already anticipating the critically acclaimed series 60 for 60.
For years, Simmons has been not only of ESPN’s most recognizable faces, but also one of its most well-known voices, and HBO is giving the columnist the same kind of multi-platform deal here, which will officially begin in October and is set to last for several years. One of the already planned projects for Simmons to head will be a talk show where he’ll swap stories and experiences with guests from sports and other realms of the pop culture-sphere. Simmons hasn’t ever been one to hold things back, which is where he and ESPN butted heads on occasion, so HBO’s lax rulebook should offer him an even more grandiose soapbox to speak from.
HBO is giving Bill Simmons a potentially large production push beyond the talk show, according to Deadline, and he’ll be working with other creators in putting together content for HBO’s digital platforms. As one of the main guys behind the Grantland empire, Simmons is well-versed in both audio and video podcasts, so he’ll be great for that. As well, he’ll be brainstorming with HBO Sports president Ken Hershman to develop shows and documentary films related to the sports world. I guess it’s only a matter of time before he cameos on Ballers and the next Andy Samberg sports spoof.
Simmons is one of three big names – including Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd – that were unceremoniously cut loose by ESPN in recent months. He reportedly found out he was fired through Twitter. I like to think he was throwing some major cable shade at the sports giant in his statement about joining HBO, seen below.
It’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape…From the moment I started talking to Michael and Richard [Pleper, HBO chairman and CEO], it was hard to imagine being anywhere else.
That’s how it’s done. Because the Simmons/HBO partnership doesn’t begin until October, we sadly won’t be getting his new talk show this fall, but rather at some point in 2016. Talk shows tend to have shorter pre-production periods than fictional shows, so maybe Simmons will be around early enough to invite the Super Bowl champs over the week after the game. Are you guys happy to see Simmons joining HBO Sports?