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ESPN Morning Show ‘Get Up’ To Stay In Happy Little Sports World, Network Veep Says – TCA

Mike Greenberg Jalen Rose
ESPN’s new morning show Get Up will stick to the “happy little world” of sports, VP studio production Bill Wolff told reporters the day before its launch, borrowing a line from the show’s host Mike Greenberg: “I love sushi, but when I go to McDonalds I want hamburger.”
Asked how the recent layoff of 150 staffers impacted morale at the network, Greenberg told reporters attending TCA, “I can only speak for myself. I feel great.”

Then, maybe realizing he just got asked about 150 people losing their jobs, Greenberg pivoted 180 degrees saying people being laid off is “something no one wants to see.”

Then tied a bow on it, calling the move “a reality of life in corporate America now,” he repeated that “it was certainly terrible to see,” and then pivoted 180 again to assure whiplashed reporters, “I’m excited about getting something new started.”

“We’re going into uncharted waters for the company and I think we’re a good bet,” he enthused.

The panel also was asked to weigh in on the way in which politics had encroached on sports programming, what with the President of the United States having urged NFL team owners to sack any player taking a knee during the national anthem, etc.

Bill Wolff ESPN
Wolff
REX/Shutterstock

“It’s a new day,” Wolff said, insisting “this cycle is unusual by standards of history,” suggesting he thinks that, with football season wrapping, Trump will be done using attacks on sports figures to play to his base. File this under only slightly less naive than political reporters thinking Trump was going to “pivot,” as promised, once the election was wrapped and he was sworn in.

“It’s an unusual time in America now, so politics has encroached into our happy little world more than we are used to,” Wolff said, in a master stroke of understatement.

In late October, ESPN sports anchor Jemele Hill returned to ESPN after a two-week suspension that resulted when she tweeted Trump’s campaign against NFL players taking a knee at games was  “ignorant” and his election a “direct result of white supremacy.” The White House demanded ESPN parent Disney treat that as a “fireable offense.”

Wolff said Friday the “world of social media” is a “new thing” and media has to adjust, but that, company wide,  there is a “really good understanding we are in the business of sports and our responsibility is entertainment as regards sports.”

“People come to us to be diverted from issues of the world at large… something fun where the stakes aren’t quite as high in the rest of the world,” Wolff said, in case anyone was wondering whether Get Up would discuss any morning Trump tweets attacked sports figures going forward.

The panel also got asked to give their thoughs on the recent sudden exit of longtime network chief John Skipper.

Greenberg said he got word while on an airplane on his way to vacation with his family, and was “stunned and saddened,” having “liked him very much,” adding that he hoped the exec was doing well.

Get Up’s other host, Jalen Rose said he too liked Skipper, who he said had done a lot for him over the years, and was sad to see him go.

The late November, Skipper announced the network was cutting 150 studio and production employees;  he was gone about three weeks later, citing a substance abuse issue. But the day before ESPN’s TCA at-bat, James Andrew Miller, the guy who literally wrote the book on ESPN, said he believes Skipper was sacked by ESPN, saying the “substance abuse” issue “did not pass the smell test.”

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