When Neil Everett opened a segment on Thursday’s 1 a.m. ET SportsCenter with “Remember when the Mariners were favored to win the NL East?” one knew there was trouble.
As he kept rumblin’, bumblin’ and stumblin’ placing the Mariners everywhere except in the Double A Southern League, concern arose in the
dugout control room:
“What’s going on?” director Matt Sellars said.
“He doesn’t have it tonight,” producer Tony Honkus replied as he reached.
Finally, in an unprecedented move, Honkus walked onto the set, and on-air told a clearly confused Everett: “Gimme the scripts – you’re out, you’re done. You just don’t have it tonight.”
Things went from worse to better for a stunned late night/early morning audience as Everett did his best Morten Anderson to two unsuspecting trash cans exiting the set, before being replaced by “relief” anchor Kenny Mayne, who strode in confidently from the
bullpen Green Room after some verbal soft tosses.
It might not have been Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds,” but the carefully orchestrated skit consumed ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center like the Martians did Grover’s Mill, N.J.
“This idea was created by Kenny and myself over a year ago when we started talking about different ways to do a ‘three-man weave’ within a SportsCenter,” Honkus said. “Normally, when Kenny is in, it is because Stan [Verrett] or Neil is out of town on vacation, but Neil said he was taking some stay-cation time in Los Angeles and would be willing to come in and take part in this idea.”
The scripts were written Monday and revised Wednesday. The actual piece was shot in about 45 minutes Wednesday at 8 p.m. PT, a couple of hours before going live.
“Tony came to me with all the beats mapped out from the call to the bullpen to the frustrated pitcher exit and postgame sound,” Sellars said. “Neil was a pro and delivered his lead-in in one take, and Kenny closed it out with his usual knee-buckling curveball.”
“Of course, none of this happens without Stan, Neil and Kenny all willing to go off the SportsCenter rails for a night and help create some not-so sports content,” Honkus said. “They are an especially talented trio and truly a great team — I mean how can you not enjoy working with guys who lied to Rob Gronkowski [see the latest “This is SportsCenter” promo] and got away with it!”
As sort of an encore, 20 minutes later Everett was subject to a post-show interview.
“Yeah I was embarrassed, what kind of *&^%$# question is that?” he said, draped in a towel, wearing sunglasses, with his wife Stephanie at his side consoling him.
“[Coordinating producer] Steve Peresman brought up the post-game LTT [live-to-tape] as an additional skit and it went into the show,” Honkus said. “Many thanks to Neil’s wife, Stephanie, for being so supportive after her husband’s rough night.”
Everett is expected to be back his normal spot in the rotation next week.