Beginning on Feb. 14 at 11 p.m., Bob Costas, who has exhibited his
acting chops on HBO's Arli$$ and The Larry Sanders Show, will be
appearing on the cable network on a weekly basis. What recurring
role could he possibly play? That of:
a) Pootie Tang's hip vanilla sidekick on The Chris Rock Show?
b) Larry David's irrepressibly cheerful neighbor on Curb Your
c) A dollar-bill-waving crowd-scene extra in G-string Divas?
"I'm not acting," says Costas, who'll host a one-hour sports
magazine program called On the Record with Bob Costas. "This
show, and everything I do subsequently, really has one purpose:
To make amends for [my appearance in] Baseketball."
It will be a welcome sight to see Costas--whose NBC schedule,
now that he's no longer doing NBA telecasts, affords him more
downtime than Cosmo Kramer--appearing regularly and thinking out
loud. "Going back five years, Bob and I would have these
45-minute phone conversations about sports," says HBO Sports
president Ross Greenburg, "and he'd spew these Costas diatribes
to which I'd say, 'Hold on, will you write that down and save
For the record, On the Record, says Costas, "will have elements
of journalism and elements of commentary beyond the sound bite,
and also will be very entertaining. We're not, however, going to
be interviewing the Whassup Guys." The premiere, portions of
which will air live, will feature a state-of-the-NBA roundtable
with Oscar Robertson and league commissioner David Stern. Another
expected early highlight will be an interview with Tom Hanks on
his love for the 1972 Oakland A's.
Later, the late-night half-hour interview program that debuted in
1988 with Costas as its host (he left in Feb. '94), was canceled
only last month. Nobody has mentioned the program for years,
mostly because its many subsequent hosts strove to placate
guests, not provoke them. While Costas isn't one to conduct the
guerrilla interview, he does place a premium on keeping the
subject, the viewer and, perhaps most important, himself from
"When you get a talent like Bob," says Greenburg, "someone with a
quick wit and an incisive mind, you build a show around his
personality. That's the object of this little game called
Costas's new show, he says, "has one purpose: to make up for [my
appearance in] Baseketball."