Well, frankly, no.
Despite having dealt a nearly fatal blow to the acting career of Malcom-Jamal Warner, Tony Kornheiser was today confirmed as the third wheel in the impending Mike Tirico, Joe Tiffany Amber-Theissman blind-leading-the-blind date that will be Monday Night Football.
Though said announcement was the worst kept secret in the sports TV biz, there’s still some intrigue surrounding Al Michaels’ decision to leave MNF and bolt to NBC. From the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir (link courtesy MMV Tan).
ESPN has shed a discontented Al Michaels from his contract to call “Monday Night Football” for the next eight years and named Mike Tirico the play-by-play voice of the series for the foreseeable future.
The final break with Michaels came Tuesday, two days after he called the Super Bowl on ABC. The talks culminated with him cutting his ties to ESPN as well as his contract to call National Basketball Association games on ABC Sports.
Michaels is expected to quickly announce his move to NBC to call Sunday night games with John Madden, his partner on “Monday Night” games at ABC.
Michaels, who last July signed an eight-year contract worth $4 million annually, has refused to publicly discuss why he wanted to get out of the ESPN contract, or why he chose to follow “Monday Night” from ABC to ESPN, which will not have any post-season games. NBC, which had wooed him after it hired Madden, will carry playoff games and Super Bowls.
Michaels insisted that he did not go to ESPN for the money, which exceeded the $2.9 million annual salary NBC had offered, but said that after 20 years, the words “Monday Night Football” still made his spine tingle.
ESPN’s John Skipper said he became aware of Michaels’s change of heart in the last few weeks.
“In November, he said it was the best job ever invented,” he said on the conference call. “As long as Al was committed to us, we were committed to him.” He declined to give any of the details of the terms of Michaels’s leaving his contract, but said, “We reached a satisfactory resolution.”
In addition to being replaced by Tirico on “Monday Night,” Michaels will be replaced, starting Sunday, by Mike Breen (above), as the No. 1 announcer for ABC’s N.B.A. games, working with Hubie Brown. Breen, the TV voice of the Knicks on the MSG Network, has called the N.B.A. for ESPN and ABC since 2003.