In the spirit of this year’s Presidential election, ESPN’s Around the Horn will go to a political playbook for its annual April Fool’s Day show today (5 p.m. ET, ESPN). The 30-minute weekday sports program hosted by Tony Reali will feature a presidential-style debate between the four panelists – Woody Paige, Frank Isola, Jackie MacMullan and Pablo S. Torre.
Don’t worry – Paige won’t be outlining his thoughts on health care or foreign policy. Topics will still be sports-themed, but the panelists’ ability to get their messages across will not be judged based on points traditionally awarded by Reali. Instead, each “candidate” will receive an audience approval rating that will determine who wins the day.
The unique #ATHDebate format will also break new ground. For the first time in ATH’s 14-year history, all four panelists will be in the same studio as Reali, instead of appearing on screens via satellite from multiple locations and time zones. Paige, Isola, MacMullan and Torre will all be in the Times Square studios in New York. During the show, they will each stand at a lectern in front of Reali, who will moderate. Fifty or so guests will join them in studio – another first – to witness the proceedings and to help determine approval ratings.
In the spirit of the event, there will be special guests and other surprises, and the show open and graphics will also be themed to the occasion.
“#ATHDebate will be unlike anything we’ve ever done,” said Around the Horn coordinating producer Aaron Solomon. “Panelists and Tony in one room, a studio audience, maybe a celebrity appearance or two and BUNTING! Of course, the ever-important mute button will be operational.”
Solomon added: “From Woody Paige ‘kidnapping’ Tony and hosting in 2009, to ‘The Backwards Show’ in 2010, to the sitcom episode in 2014 to last year’s ‘Back To The Future’ edition, we have set our bar high for our April Fools’ viewers. I’m confident that we will maintain that high standard of excellence in 2016 with our #ATHDebate.”