With the Sept. 7 launch of Scott Van Pelt’s midnight SportsCenter just around the corner, Front Row will have a series of posts bringing fans behind the scenes as Van Pelt and his production team near their Labor Day night launch (following ESPN’s telecast of No. 1 Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech). Stay with Front Row as we take you “Behind the Glasses” and into a new SportsCenter that will present the world of sports through Van Pelt’s distinctive perspective.
In this Q&A, longtime ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt talks about what makes this new edition of SportsCenter different from other versions of ESPN’s signature news and information program, and the role of music in the show:
How do you describe the new show?
It’s still SportsCenter. It’s still a show that at its core is about whatever has happened that day in sports – highlights and stories – and not a variety show. It’s our interpretation of what SportsCenter would be if you blended it with some room for commentary. The crux is that it’s SportsCenter, just our version of it.
How did you and the production team come up with new and different elements for the show?
We’ve had some time to think about things that we would like to do to differentiate our hour of the show from the other parts of the day, and we’ve tried to come up with a working list of things that might be recurring. I look at shows like, say PTI, is a great example of creating a cupboard full of possible devices to use, or any number of ways that Mike [Wilbon] and Tony [Kornheiser] can take a crack at a story. You wouldn’t do them daily, but maybe one or two of them a day make their way into the show. I think our show will be similar. On a given day, we might have a few of them that show up, and there will be shows when none of them do.
Music was such an important part of your ESPN Radio show. Will that be the case here as well?
On radio, having re-join music that sounds like stuff you like just creates a certain feel. It’ll be more difficult for us to do on television because you don’t have the rights to the music, and it becomes incredibly complicated. The fact that Timbaland got involved and has tweaked some of the actual soundtrack of SportsCenter is pretty crazy given the list of people that he’s collaborated with. So again it’s not the most important thing — ultimately the results of the games and the people that are responsible for them, are the most important thing — but each little small piece of this hour that can be distinctly different, I think that’s important. If the goal is to look different, to sound different, to feel different, then it ought to.
— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) August 27, 2015