Friday, March 02, 2007

George Michael Was One of a Kind

By: Jim Williams
The Examiner
Saturday March 3, 2007

Let me say this as strongly as possible, there is nobody better than George Michael. He is the best and by miles.

Last night was Michael's last newscast as we have reported earlier he was leaving NBC4 passing up a five year $5 million dollar deal because it would mean more layoffs for not only his staff but others in the news department. So rather than take the cash, Michael passed on the money so that at least 20 people at NBC4 could keep their jobs.

In a day when local sports anchors are interchangeable and act like ESPN SportsCenter knockoff’s George Michael was the gold standard.

In an age where scores and headlines are known well before the 6pm and 11pm newscasts Michael offered sports in an entertaining style that is neither as easy as it looks nor something that is seen on a local basis anywhere these days.

People no longer watch the local news for sports and the new stars are the weathermen, sports anchors get three minutes and have to rush their sportscasts so that there can be one last sign off weather report. But for 27 years George Michael demanded and got four minutes of air time and some times more.

He will no longer be part of NBC4’s newscasts, he will be still doing his weekly Redskins Shows but the nightly interactions between anchor Jim Vance and Michael are classic, funny but most of all are real.

George Michael was sportscaster who was an entertainer and who understood the medium of television better than almost any sports anchor in the country. Michael’s old competition Warner Wolf and Len Berman were pretty good as well but he was always just a bit better.

He presented highlights in a way that commands that you watch them, complete with music and sound effects they were compelling viewing and something you could only see on a George Michael sportscast.

We have heard the stories of countless members of the ESPN staff saying that Michael did SportsCenter before they did SportsCenter. That George Michael’s Sports Machine which will go dark on March 25th was the gold standard for interview and highlights shows.

As someone who has been part of the business I stole ideas from George Michael because if you’re going to steal – steal from the best.

So like Johnny Carson the King of local TV sports is leaving the air on NBC4 but he will be back.

The good news is that Michael is staying in the Washington area he will land somewhere.

There are discussions going on now between MASN and Michael which makes perfect sense for both parties. He knows this area so well and is just as comfortable talking to Cal Ripken as he is Joe Gibbs. It would be a chance for the young network to have credibility while allowing Michael to continue to do the interview shows that were so successful that they created spin offs like PTI.

We have learned that Michael will also be joining DirecTV along with FOX Sports NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip. They will work together on a series of races doing the brand new “Hot Pass,” where they will cover drivers during the races and I am sure that they will do more NASCAR features as well down the line.

The nightly sports newscast will never be the same but we have not seen the last of George Michael, he shall return and my guess is it will be soon.

One last thing and that is NBC4 should do the right thing and make Lindsay Czarniak, the Sports Director. The market can stand the bold move of having a woman as the lead sportscaster.

No comments: