Behind The ScenesSportsCenter

SportsCenter’s John Anderson back for more Wipeout wackiness

Asked about similarities between ESPN’s SportsCenter and ABC’s Wipeout, John Anderson deadpanned: “They are both television programs that last one hour and I have a speaking part. Beyond that there are no similarities. None.

Wipeout features non-athletes failing spectacularly,” said Anderson, who is entering his 15th year as a SportsCenter anchor. “SportsCenter features the greatest athletes excelling fantastically.”

ESPN's John Anderson (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
ESPN’s John Anderson
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

For the past five years, Anderson has co-hosted ABC’s hit series Wipeout – one of America’s favorite TV reality game shows. John Henson co-hosts along with the returning Jill Wagner, who took a one-year break from the show.

Earlier this year, Anderson flew to Southern California to shoot several episodes, as the video above demonstrates. Leading into Wipeout’s season premiere tonight at 8/7c on ABC, Front Row caught up with Anderson, who regularly co-hosts the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter with Lindsay Czarniak, to get his thoughts on the new season:

What are some of the most exciting Wipeout episodes this year?
I am particularly intrigued this year by the entire spectrum of the human love life. We have a ‘Blind Date’ episode. There is a ‘Newlyweds’ episode and a ‘Family’ episode. And to make sure the cycle is complete, there is an ‘Ex’s’ episode. Love from start to finish.

What is the secret to the show’s success?
We are like Mel Tormé and The Christmas Song — fun for kids from one to 92. We highlight and celebrate people slipping on the proverbial banana peel. No week to week carry over, no dramatic season ending cliffhanger, just one hour a week where people can sit down together and laugh – though we prefer fall-down laughter. The course and the brave souls who believe they can successfully cross it are the stars.

What do you and your co-hosts bring to the show to make it interesting for viewers?
We are three — my friend John, Jill and me. I just try to introduce our contestants then get out of the way of Henson’s humor, Jill’s charm and the Big Balls destruction. It is that simple. Henson is powerfully funny. There are times I feel bad that some of John’s best material is lost because people are too busy laughing at some poor fella who has just been wrecked by an obstacle and they miss his brilliant comedy.

Jill has a magic about her. She interacts with contestants in a funny, natural way that makes her the 25th contestant every week without taking anything away from the people who will actually run the course.

Video produced by Ariel Bond and John Anderson.

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