ESPN will celebrate 20 years of Pardon The Interruption with two new projects this week – a one-hour television special tonight (7 p.m. ET) and a four-part ESPN Daily podcast series hosted by Pablo Torre, debuting Saturday, Oct. 2, with episode 1.
Torre, now a regular PTI guest-host who first appeared on the show as a ‘Stat Boy’ fill-in in 2014, interviewed both Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon for the PTI20 special in addition to narrating the podcast series.
In the Q&A below, Torre discusses this week’s special, the thrill of appearing on PTI, and how both legendary hosts have helped him.
How long have you personally been watching PTI?
For two decades, basically. It was a thing in high school, and I vividly remember watching it in college, in the fall of 2003, which got me reading their work, too. My friends and I were quoting PTI and sending e-mails about Tony and Mike to each other 15 years ago.
What was your experience like interviewing Kornheiser and Wilbon for this PTI special?
The real TV special I wanted to make is a documentary about trying to convince Tony to participate in this TV special. Because Wilbon quickly welcomed me to Chicago, took me around his home and his town, and saw all of this as a party from the jump. Kornheiser — who otherwise could not be more generously supportive of my ambitions and my career and my sanity — legitimately refused to participate, for weeks and weeks, out of a more existential concern that we’ll explain. And that contrast is a perfect encapsulation of both of them.
You and Bomani Jones famously dressed as Kornheiser and Wilbon on High Noon for Halloween in 2019. How did the PTI duo react?
What’s it like for you to do PTI, now as one of the show’s regular guest hosts?
I always, always love doing it. And sometimes it still feels a little surreal that I am, in fact, doing it. When I talked to our pal Dan Le Batard and asked him what it meant for him to do PTI, in the very beginning, he described it kind of like being knighted. But I suppose that when you’re actually knighted, the Queen of England doesn’t proceed to roast you in front of millions of your countrymen, for years, as a show of affection.
What does it mean to you to have developed a genuine friendship with Tony?
Tony Kornheiser taking the train to attend my wedding, and then leaving the reception at 9:30 p.m., exactly as he said he would, remains one of the great privileges of my improbable life.