FOX Sports’ MLB and NFL play-by-play announcer Joe Buck gets to leave the confines of the broadcast booth and stretch his legs as host of a new sports talk show this month. Joe Buck Live premieres June 15 at 9pm ET on HBO (HD), and will air quarterly.
When Bob Costas left HBO earlier this year to join MLB Network, a spot opened up for Buck on HBO’s roster. But Joe Buck Live won’t be Costas Now with Buck’s name on it. “I think it would be the worst thing in the world for me to go in and try to imitate Bob. I think Bob is the absolute best doing what he does,” Buck tells us. “I think this is my chance to try and do something different.” Whereas Costas Now often confronted the big sports issues, Joe Buck Live will be lighter in tone and content. “I’m going to attempt to have some fun with these guys or girls, whoever the interviewees are, and try and bring out the light side of sports from time to time and mix that with the hard questions and the serious issues. I think we can cover it all, and at the end of the day have a good time doing it.”
Sports fans who’ve heard Buck in the FOX broadcast booth over the years might be a little surprised at the sportscaster’s comedic chops. “I think most people might be surprised that I can handle different things,” he says. “I don’t know that the average fan is aware that I have other sides to my personality than just ‘Ball 1. Strike 2. Touchdown.’”
Looking to branch out, Buck filmed a talk-show pilot for FOX that wasn’t picked up, but it planted the seeds for what would eventually become his HBO show. “I think [the pilot] opened some eyes,” he says. “It was something that I gave to [HBO Sports President] Ross Greenburg, and that’s what really sparked the conversation.”
Buck believes his show was better suited for HBO, anyway, as it affords him the chance to do some things he couldn’t on network TV. “I’m not going to just say things just to get a shock or say things just to be different than I would on the network side,” Buck says. “But I think as far as the comedy — which there will be a comedic element in every show — we’ve talked to the guys at Funny or Die, particularly Will Ferrell and others, to try and ‘donate,’ for lack of a better word, something to the show. Maybe something that comes out of that camp might not make it on network TV, but it can on HBO.” So while the show might not include nudity, Buck emphatically says, “The last thing I want it to be is boring.”
Buck says the first episode will discuss athletes as celebrities. “We’re going to talk about the good side of it, talk about the negatives of it, going to talk about guys who have thrived in that spotlight, and talk to some who have been eaten up by that spotlight,” Buck says. “There will be live guests, talking about accessibility and, really, accountability and what athletes today have to deal with as opposed to athletes of the past. And I think now more than ever, everybody is kind of open like a book, and you have to watch everything you do — even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have to look at the perception of it.”
Photo: Credit: Adriano Fagundes/Courtesy of HBO