Pat O'Brien can't make up his mind. Is he a sports broadcaster who does entertainment news or is he a celebrity interviewer who dabbles in sports? After nine years at CBS Sports, he left in 1990 to do stints at ET and Access Hollywood before debuting as The Insider. In the midst of all that, O'Brien also covered the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. Next up, he hosts tonight's CBS special, The Greatest Commercials: Super Bowl vs. the World, at 8 pm/ET. It features classic American ads from the big game competing against foreign spots. As O'Brien himself would say, let's get inside...TV Guide Online: How will this TV commercial showdown impact our standing in the international community?
I feel that this is one time [Americans have] really got to get behind their country. There are no blue states, there are no red states here. There are only Americans. [But] it's funny, people do like to see what the world puts out — they're a little more risqué overseas.
TVGO: What's your favorite commercial of all time?
Everyone always remembers the Mean Joe Greene
one as being the first megacommercial. I think it's even more poignant now because you don't have kids looking up to athletes like it was portrayed in that commercial. So now it's kind of bittersweet to see that. And my Lipton Tea commercial, where I beat the hell out of Danny DeVito
at the end, that was pretty good.
TVGO: What's tougher — interviewing a losing coach after the Super Bowl or an actress who just broke up with her actor husband?
An actress who just broke up with her actor husband because the actress is going to have five publicists saying, "Don't ask that question." And you ask it anyway and the whole room explodes.
TVGO: What did you think of Jimmy Fallon's SNL impression of you?
I have a teenage son. We were watching Saturday Night Live
and, all of a sudden, his phone goes ringing off the hook, "Your dad's on TV!" A few weeks earlier, Jimmy and I had gone out in New York and had a couple of beers, and I had noticed he was watching me a little too closely. [Later,] I saw him and he got down on his knees and said, "Please don't be mad at me." And I said, "Mad at you? You're too nice! There's too much material here — you've gotta get meaner!" And then he got meaner, and I said, "Aw, geez, Jimmy, relax!"
TVGO: What was your reaction last summer when NBC threatened legal action for promoting The Insider before you left Access Hollywood?
My initial reaction was, "They're filing a lawsuit against me and bad-mouthing me all over town, yet I'm doing 127 hours of live Olympics for them?" And the judge kind of wondered that, too. But it all got worked out. That was the summer that my entourage included 12 lawyers.
TVGO: Do you watch your old Access buddy, Billy Bush, host the show?
No, no, I don't watch. It's not because I don't want to watch him. Billy and I are friends — [but] I never watched when I
did it. In fact, I have yet to watch one Insider
. It's on opposite Hardball
TVGO: Finally, do you think Donovan McNabb's mother and her Campbell's soup will be a big factor in the game this weekend?
If the Eagles win the game, it will be because of the soup.