Monday, March 21, 2005

Rome Is Contained

I like Jim Rome. I've listened to his radio program off and on for 12 years now, from back when he was on the 'Mighty 690' broadcast out of Tijuana, Mexico and seemingly reaching every radio in the western hemisphere. His radio takes are consistently laugh-out-loud funny, informative and good theater for scary lunatics who have nothing better to do than call into sports radio and scream for awhile.

So why is it that his TV show 'Jim Rome is Burning' doesn't work? He's not ugly or anything (no homo) and he's definitely got a certain gravitase and charisma that you would think would lend itself well to a PTI style show, so what gives?

Jim Rome's ego is what ultimately kills the show. The thing that funny, abrasive people like Max Kellerman and Tony Kornheiser have learned is that in order to be an asshole, you need to be surrounded by other people who not only get the joke, but are as quick as you. Kornheiser's got Wilbon, Kellerman had (and hopefully will have again) Michael Holley and Bill Wolff. These are smart people who can take the lead host's barbs, pick them apart with analysis and serve them right back at them.

Jim Rome's problem is that for most of his show he's either standing up, staring into the camera and looking confrontational, or he's sitting in a comfy chair looking like he really doesn't give a rat's ass what his interview subject has to say. The only segment on the show where he 'interacts' at all is the 'forum' part of the show where he usually brings on two of three people; his annoying game show host buddy Roger Lodge (from TV's Blind Date, why?), Jim Lampley (who's equally as abrasive and annoying as Rome most of the time. Incredibly knowledgeable but they just cancel each other out) and Jeff Cesario (a 'evening at the improv' era comedian whose jokes range from predictable to awful. His weekly attempt to be the Jay Leno of sports can be seen on his website, here.). Clearly, these three stooges aren't going to provide the Ying to Jim's Yang. He needs someone who is likeable with legitimate sports knowledge who can challenge him, not someone to lob up bad jokes and softballs.

Jim's got the personality to front a really good sports show. If he would just take a step back and realize that most people don't want to see some angry guy stare you down and tell you what to think for half and hour, it could work. Otherwise this show will just go on the slag-heap of other failed attempts to bring sports radio to television.

3 Comments:

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question is, where would they find this counterpart? On his old show on Fox Sports, he had Skip Bayless on for the forum and Skip works for ESPN. Unfortunately, Skip is also a useless gasbag, so maybe we should move on.

I don't really mind the current format, it's the same as it was on Fox Sports, so I'm used to it, but I would like to see that, just to see if the show was better. So, any suggestions? And would Rome's ego, which seems pretty big, allow a co-host?

 
At 1:32 PM, Blogger Drew said...

A few ideas for co-host; Adam Schein from Sirius radio and frequent guest on 'I,Max', Bill Simmons from espn.com, or Tom Tolbert. All fit the bill for me.

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

For me, Rome is always at his best when he just calms down and displays his sports knowledge, which is comprehensive. But, he's at his worst 2 seconds later when he gets the Napoleon chip on his shoulder and starts shouting his point like he's finally found a step ladder high enough to let him to punch someone in the mouth.

If he can't let go of that tone, then yes -he definitely needs a Bill Wolff/Robin Quivers-like sidekick to even things out.

TK and Wilbon may argue and call each other dopes until they're blew in the face, but they do it with a smile and a truck-load of security that Rome lacks. If one of those guys showed up today and decided to now have a tough-guy attitude, it would change the show for the worst.

Sure, watching Jim Everett throw a table over to get at Rome is good television, but the PTI guys never had to do that to get noticed.

Honestly, I think I'd like him a lot more if he learned how to trim his goatee. Doesn't anyone in his make-up department understand the merits of symmetry?

 

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