He’s baaack! Dennis Miller once again steps away from politics for the slightly less controversial world of sports. "Last time I was in sports, I lasted for two years on Monday Night Football, and then John Madden left Fox [for ABC]. And when John Madden wants your job in football and you’re the stand-up comedian in the booth, he’s going to get your job," Miller says of his 2000-02 stint on MNF. His new weekly series, Sports Unfiltered with Dennis Miller (premiering tonight at 10 pm/ET on VS), features a familiar lineup of trademark rants, monologues, interviews and reviews of the top sports headlines. Here's a preview.
TV Guide: Why a sports show?
Dennis Miller: I’ve always been interested in sports. I haven’t done much sports talk since [MNF], but I enjoyed that immensely. Versus seemed like a nice group of guys and I liked the idea of doing it once a week. I don’t know that I could do it on a nightly basis. It just seemed like a good fit — like a lot of guys, I like talking sports.
TV Guide: The Monday Night Football gig didn’t deter you at all?
Miller: Oh no, I was happy. I had a blast. I was kind of surprised I got the job in the first place. I’d never played, obviously, I was just all of a sudden in the middle of the application process and one day I got a call asking if I’d like to do Monday Night Football. For a sports-geek kid, that’s being offered the keys to the kingdom. I was more than happy to jump in. I know that’s a pretty protective world and at any given moment half of America hated my guts and the other half liked me, but I’ve never really shied from stuff like that. I like pursuing jobs and they’ll have me until they don’t have me anymore. In the midst of it, I just try to have fun.
TV Guide: Tell us about your plans for the show.
Miller: I would say if I had to do the schematic, it would be akin to my HBO show but extrapolated out to an hour and we'll be adding an extra interview. We’ll have rants and funny sports pictures and some monologue up front. We’ll do one guest in the studio and one on the screen, which will give us access to more people all across the country, basically whoever is hot at the moment. The other one will be more of a legend situation if we can get one in the studio. There will also be a field reporter akin to what Jon [Stewart] does on The Daily Show when he sends people out into the field to do pieces. I’d say it will be like my HBO show, which was more about politics and events of the day, transposed into the world of sports — add an extra interview, a field reporter and a little more time talking about the events happening in sports, and that will fill out the hour.
TV Guide: Do you have an idea about your first rant yet?
Miller: I’m just going to talk about how happy I am to be back in sports and what makes a sports addict in this country. I think we all share a few common things and I’m going to speak to that and just express how happy I am to be back in the arena, as it were.
TV Guide: Who’s at the top of your list of sports figures you’d like to interview on the show?
Miller: Well, I think Tiger Woods is the greatest athlete ever, but I never bother people about whether they want to come on or not because they’ll come on at their own volition. I like Rick Reilly as a writer, I think he’s brilliant. He’s like a combination of Dave Barry and Jim Murray. I’d hope he’d come on and talk periodically. I like Tom Brady. He’s nails. Josh Beckett. When they need to, they blink once every two hours and they just get it done. I like the look in their eyes. Those are the guys that interest me, the guys with that look.
TV Guide: What do you like about sports today?
Miller: I like that it’s resolution in a world where obviously we live in the most serious of times, it is a resolution on a daily basis of a non-life-and-death matter. You can get scores at the end of the day and everything is figured out in a world where for god’s sake there is so much heartache and so much gray area. I find something calm in the resolution of sports. It happens on a Tuesday and you get a whole bunch of resolutions the next day. I find it calming in that regard.
TV Guide: On the flip side, what do you like least about sports today?
Miller: I’ll be honest with you, I’m a traditionalist. I think that Henry [Hank] Aaron earned that record and I don’t know exactly what Barry Bonds was popping down his gullet. But I do know that when I watched him come up with the Pirates, he was a pretty live character, and then one day I tuned in and he was as big as the Michelin Man. It saddens me because I think Aaron did it the right way. I guess the times are changing and I’m starting to sound like the old men I used to poke fun at. Things always change.
TV Guide: What sports do you watch?
Miller: I love NBA hoops, the NFL, postseason baseball. I don’t watch it as much during the season because they broke my heart in 1994 when they canceled the Series. I can watch a little curling. I don’t know what the hell they are doing, but I like it when they take the big tea kettle, slide it down the ice and start sweeping. It looks funny to me.
TV Guide: Since you'll be on basic cable, are you going to have to tone anything down?
Miller: No. I did Monday Night Football for two years and the closest I ever came to cursing was pronouncing Marshall Faulk’s name when he was playing for the Rams, so it’s pretty easy except when announcing a Marshall Faulk game.
If you're a big sports geek like Miller, our Online Video Guide has all the sports footage you need.
Go behind the scenes of the Ugly Betty wedding in the Nov. 5 issue of TV Guide. Plus: Sneak a peek at the new season of 24. Try four risk-free issues now!
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.