"FOX SPORTS LIVE" DRAWS FROM A-LIST AS NEW DESTINATION FOR TOP SPORTS INTERVIEWS
New York -- The list of guests to grace the FOX SPORTS LIVE interview chair since its debut with the launch of FOX Sports 1 reads like a "who's who" in the sports world, highlighted by champions, Hall of Famers and MVPs across nearly every athletic discipline.
LeBron James, Eli Manning, Roger Federer, Joe Flacco, Mike Tyson, Sean Payton, Julius Erving, Floyd Mayweather, Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick, Mark Cuban, and Joe Torre are but a few giants of their fields who have clipped on a FOX SPORTS LIVE microphone since its Aug. 17 premiere, comprising quite an impressive roster for a network in its infancy.
"The caliber of highly accomplished guests we've had on FOX SPORTS LIVE thus far speaks to the power of the FOX Sports brand established over the past 20 years," said FOX Sports EVP/Coordinating Studio Producer Scott Ackerson. "Athletes and newsmakers realize they now have more than one place to talk all kinds of sports and sporting issues."
Firing questions at guests on FOX SPORTS LIVE are host Charissa Thompson and panelists Donovan McNabb, Andy Roddick, Gabe Kapler, Ephraim Salaam and Gary Payton, as well as various FOX Sports reporters and analysts.
Thompson points to NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving, who joined the FOX SPORTS LIVE panel in early September, as one whose perspective transcended that of most guests.
"Hearing a legend like 'Dr. J' speak of his experience in the game and how much the game has changed was intriguing," Thompson said. "He also said he doesn't watch that much basketball anymore, which I found to be quite interesting."
Thompson also singled out Mike Tyson as a captivating interview.
"Learning about his life, career, trials and tribulations outside of boxing, from the death of his daughter to bankruptcy, and how those events affected his life, was eye-opening," she explained. "The name 'Mike Tyson' garners a certain level of fear in most people, but he couldn't be nicer. People often are taken aback by his soft-spoken demeanor."
Joe Torre, former New York Yankees manager and current Executive VP, Baseball Operations for MLB, shared with the panel his perspective on the MLB wild card before and after its implementation; expanding instant replay in 2014; and his relationship with Mariano Rivera.
"Torre's presidential quality was fascinating," said Gabe Kapler, panelist and former MLB outfielder. "He has a charismatic demeanor and shining aura about him that is remarkable. I already knew he was a great guy and about his prowess as a manager from playing against him, but I didn't know he had that presidential quality."
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reflected on his one-year suspension stemming from the Saints' bounty scandal and how much of the blame for that situation resides with him.
On whether he is a little angry regarding his suspension, Payton responded, "Sure, yeah. It's not something that's driving going forward ... It was important to focus on a direction and the direction was not going to be out of spite. It was not going to be out of anger or resentment toward the league office."
Tennis great Serena Williams visited with Andy Roddick, a childhood friend, to discuss her long history with the U.S. Open; breaking records; and the legacy of her and her sister, Venus.
"Serena was very candid and likeable," Thompson recalled. "Her chat with Andy was revealing and laidback. Their comfort level with each other drew out her personality."
While the first 30 days' guest list is varied, a common, overriding theme among the interviewees has been honesty, which, according to the entire cast, is the hallmark of a great interview.
"A good guest displays honesty, open, forthright communication with no sugarcoating," Kapler insisted. "They're unapologetic, say what they believe and are unrehearsed and authentic."
While eliciting insightful conversations from guests is a goal each night, so are the cast and program's consistent progression in the coming months.
"Panelists like Andy, Donovan McNabb or Gabe Kapler talking about various sports -- not just those they played -- takes a while for some to get used to," Thompson related. "It might take time to believe that Andy, for example, can be an expert on football. We need to do a better job of showing our audience that these guys are knowledgeable about and fans of all sports."
On the other hand, fans of all sports appreciate broadcasters who aren't their own biggest fan.
"We do a solid job of calling attention to our goof-ups," Thompson added. "Jay (Onrait) and Dan (O'Toole) are so good at that. Messing up and enduring growing pains is part of starting a new network, so pointing out, laughing at and taking ownership of those mistakes is an endearing quality. I love when someone says, 'Well, we just faded to black, but let's try this again. Can you see us now?'"
Viewers can see FOX SPORTS LIVE nightly at 11:00 PM ET, 12:00 AM ET and 1:00 AM ET on FOX Sports 1.