|Pardon the Interruption|
Tony Reali (2001-2014)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||3,000+(as of August 15, 2014)|
|Production locations||Washington, D.C.|
|Running time||30 minutes|
+ ?3 minutes (SportsCenter segment)
|Picture format||NTSC (2001-2010)|
HDTV 720p (2010-present)
|Original release||October 22, 2001 -|
|Related shows||The Sports Reporters|
Around the Horn
Pardon the Interruption (abbreviated PTI) is an American sports talk television show that airs weekdays on various ESPN TV channels. It is hosted by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon who discuss, and frequently argue over, the top stories of the day in "sports... and other stuff" (as Kornheiser put it in the show's original promo). Tony Reali has also appeared as the statistician for thirteen years, correcting errors that Mike and Tony made.
Similar in format to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert's At the Movies, PTI is known for its humorous and often loud tone, as well as the "rundown" graphic which lists the topics yet to be discussed on the right-hand side of the screen. The show's popularity has led to the creation of similar shows on ESPN and similar segments on other series, and the rundown graphic has since been implemented on the morning editions of SportsCenter, among many imitators.
The show has emanated from Washington, D.C. since its debut, as both Kornheiser and Wilbon were writing for The Washington Post at the time. The pair's frequent arguments during their time at the Post are often cited (including by Wilbon himself) as both the antecedent and inspiration for PTI.
PTI debuted on October 22, 2001. The founding production team behind PTI includes Mark Shapiro, Erik Rydholm, Todd Mason, James Cohen, and Joseph Maar. The original deal was for two years with an option for a third. Originally, the show also aired Sunday evening, but this stint was short-lived.
Originally recorded at Atlantic Video's facilities in Washington, the show now occupies space at ABC News' Washington bureau. Voice actress Kat Cressida lends her voice to commercial bumpers for the series and has since its premiere. From the premiere of PTI until September 5, 2014, Tony Reali served as the show's statistician (earning him the nickname "Stat Boy") and eventually became a de facto co-host. Reali became the host of Around the Horn in 2004 while continuing his job on PTI, eventually leaving in 2014 to move to New York City and work on Good Morning America.
Pardon the Interruption airs at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN. The following outlets carry the show at other times:
On January 8, 2018, the day of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship - PTI aired an hourlong episode beginning at 5:00 p.m.
Famous fans include Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, David Letterman, Tom Cotton, Hank Azaria, Chris Christie, Eric Stonestreet, Matthew Morrison, John Heilemann, Penny Marshall, Michael Kelly, Eva Longoria, John McCain, Tim Russert, and Maury Povich.
The October 24, 2011 episode featured a message from then-President Obama commemorating the tenth anniversary of the show. On July 12, 2013, Kornheiser, Wilbon, and Reali were guests at the White House. After lunch, the trio met in the Oval Office with Obama.
Pardon the Interruption is unique in its studio layout, featuring a "wall" full of cut-out cardboard heads of athletes and celebrities that have previously been used in the "Role Play" segment, bobblehead dolls of the show's hosts and Reali, Etch-A-Sketch art of Kornheiser and Wilbon, multiple penguins and several other toys and trinkets they have received, such as Kornheiser's beloved "Leg Lamp" from A Christmas Story, Stewie Griffin, and Elmo.
For different American holidays, the set will also be decorated with other props to match the theme of the day. For example, on Halloween, carved jack-o'-lanterns of the host's heads are also present. The color of the rundown graphic is also changed to mesh with the holiday theme (e.g. red, white, and blue to represent Independence Day, green for St. Patricks Day, red and green for Christmas).
On September 27, 2010, Pardon the Interruption and Around The Horn began broadcasting in high definition and moved from the Atlantic Video Washington complex to facilities in the ABC News Washington bureau, where high definition sets were built for both shows.
On January 20, 2020, the current set for Pardon the Interruption debuted. This was the first major upgrade to the PTI set in nearly a decade.
PTI is divided into several segments. It is not unusual for the last point or topic in each section to be about a non-sports-related pop-culture event. On rare occasions, the show will stray from its basic format, such as on August 9, 2005, when baseball commissioner Bud Selig was the guest at the very top of the show for an extended interview.
Other than the pop-culture topics, most topics discussed involve the Big Four of North American team sports: baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. Both hosts are avid fans of tennis, golf, and boxing and discuss events in those sports frequently. However, other sports such as soccer, mixed martial arts, auto racing, and figure skating receive much less coverage, and the hosts do little to hide their lack of interest or knowledge on those topics.
Segments included in the vast majority of shows are:
Kornheiser and Wilbon welcome viewers to the show with opening banter. Wilbon usually opens the show with the line, "Pardon the Interruption... but I'm Mike Wilbon in case Mike is not here then the guest host would say the line and add their name." Wilbon will then put a question to Kornheiser concerning one of the day's sports or pop culture issues (which he answers sarcastically). The two will then continue a conversation while the opening title card is shown. The theme song (as well as the commercial outro music) thematically references the song "Cut Your Hair" by Pavement. On rare occasions, Wilbon and Kornheiser will not open with a typical joke, as in the case of starting the show talking about the death of Junior Seau.
Kornheiser then says "Welcome to 'PTI', boys and girls." Kornheiser then gives a brief introduction before moving on to the first topic. In this Segment, the hosts usually debate five or six topics which include the day's top sports stories. During the course of this segment, Wilbon and Kornheiser will alternate topic introductions up for debate. Each topic is listed in chronological order on the right side of the screen, and a countdown timer is shown indicating how much time is allotted to discuss a particular topic. Most topics are less than 1:30, but major news stories can run two or three minutes. Also, the hosts can briefly go over the time limit in order to make a final point about any particular topic. If there is no guest for "Five Good Minutes," three or four additional headlines will run during the second segment.
Kornheiser and Wilbon interview a sports figure, writer, or analyst typically for a period of time from three to five and a half minutes. The interview itself is actually recorded prior to the rest of the show and then trimmed down for broadcast. According to PTI's remote producer, with some exceptions, guests are booked the day of the show as they try to obtain the most relevant news of the day. Other times, there are two "Five Good Minutes" segments with two different guests; there are also shows where two related guests appear during one segment, such as Joe Buck and Tim McCarver of Major League Baseball on Fox broadcasts (Another example of this was Al Michaels and Doc Rivers, when they appeared together while covering the 2004 NBA Finals for ABC Sports). There have also been occasions where Kornheiser or Wilbon, while on vacation or in another city to cover an event and not hosting the show, have been the subject of "Five Good Minutes" themselves.
Guests almost always appear from a separate location, usually the site of an upcoming game or their home city, appearing with the hosts via split screen. On a few occasions, the guest has appeared in studio with Kornheiser and Wilbon. This may be the case if the guest is an athlete or coach in Washington to play a game that night, such as when Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups appeared on February 6, 2009 prior to a game against the Washington Wizards. When this happens, the guest will sit on Wilbon's side of the table, sitting diagonally from Kornheiser.
On Thursdays during the football season, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, a former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback (a.k.a. "Jaws" and "the Polish Rifle" - the latter usually rendered in a Howard Cosell-like voice), is usually the guest. In the past, Jaworski would come on the show on Mondays to offer analysis of the previous day's games and a prediction for the Monday Night Football game that night.
On rare occasions, "Five Good Minutes" runs long, such as on June 8, 2005 when NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus's interview ran 11 minutes, forcing the cancellation of the following segment (Role Play), on March 23, 2007 when USC basketball coach Tim Floyd's interview ran 9 minutes as he talked about O. J. Mayo, and on October 22, 2009, as reporter Jackie MacMullan discussed the Magic Johnson/Isiah Thomas controversy, forcing the cancellation of the segment Report Card.
On very rare occasions, the second segment will be a bonus "game segment" (i.e. Oddsmakers, Toss Up, etc.), and the third segment will be a game segment as usual.
After "Five Good Minutes," or after extended "Headlines" if there is no guest, PTI uses a variety of different segments to talk about other sports news and make predictions. These featured segments often end with a pop culture topic.
"Mail Time" and "Toss Up" are featured at least once for every full week of episodes. During Mail Time (in which Wilbon provides the voice of the mailbox) the hosts read and respond to viewer e-mail that they take out of a talking mailbox. Early in PTI's run, an intern named Josh read the mail to the hosts. When the show changed over to the talking mailbox, Wilbon would express disgust at the mail voice, demanding it be omitted. The mail read on air is no longer written by viewers, but rather staff of the show itself. For Toss Up, the two hosts choose between two sides of a topic announced by the producer, Erik Rydholm, over the loudspeaker, and Kornheiser always claims to be the winner.
Another common segment is Odds Makers, which is featured weekly and involves the hosts giving their prediction in the form of a percentage about the likeliness of a future event occurring. Reali gives the topics and keeps track of responses on a chalkboard, to which he refers at the end of the segment in order to declare a winner. A selection at either extreme of 100% or 0% is well-respected, with the latter being coined by Reali as "squadoosh". Kornheiser often gets his odds to add up to a certain number or form a pattern. "Odds Makers" is also noted for its feud between Reali and guest host Dan LeBatard, who is often accused of ruining the game.
Role Play, featured fairly often but less so than earlier in PTI's run, is referred to as "Heads on Sticks" because the hosts alternate speaking as a sports figure with the person's picture on a stick in front of their faces. After a picture is used, it is usually stuck somewhere in the background of the set until it is replaced. Recently, the sexual nature of the title of this segment has been noticed, as a suggestive musical cue leads the segment as well as Kornheiser telling Wilbon on the first Role Play "Wilbon will give, I will receive".
"Over/Under" is a segment that alternated weeks with Odds Makers when they were first introduced, but is now featured only occasionally. The hosts argue over whether a certain sports figure or team will go over or under a certain number (e.g. 40 home runs, 60 wins). Reali also announces the topics for this segment, holding cards up with the statistic, as well. In order to help prevent a "push" (a Wilbon trademark), a decimal figure is sometimes used (e.g. 2.5 touchdowns).
On July 28, 2009, a segment called "What's the Word" was introduced. It consists of Reali reading a partial sentence and the hosts using an adjective to fill the blank(s) in the sentence. The game often involves made up or hyphenated words, and usually ends with Kornheiser using an adjective to aggrandize himself or berate Wilbon, such as saying he won with a "Korn-ucopia" of words, or that Wilbon "got Wil-bombed." On July 30, 2009, another new segment debuted called "Report Card", in which the hosts assign letter grades to various events suggested by "Professor" Reali. Usually, Kornheiser's name is spelled "Tiny" instead of "Tony" on the Report Card board. Both "Word" and "Report Card" are now played on a fairly regular basis, with at least one of them appearing most weeks.
"Psychic Hotline" and "Good Cop, Bad Cop" are segments where the hosts take on different roles to discuss the given topics. The set is decorated with candles and a plasma lamp for Psychic Hotline, the latter of which a host will touch to hear the question in the form of a pre-recorded phone call. The question asks the hosts to predict what will happen in regards to an upcoming sporting event. Kornheiser wears a turban, in the style of Carnac the Magnificent, while Wilbon does not dress up at all. In Good Cop, Bad Cop, however, both hosts dress in police hats and sometimes sunglasses. This segment is featured rarely, and unlike Toss Up, the hosts must take an opposite stand on each topic, saying it is either good or bad. This segment is occasionally renamed "Good Elf, Bad Elf" for the holiday.
"Food Chain", where the hosts rank a top five list of teams, returned in December 2008 after a long absence. Kornheiser and Wilbon usually have variations in their lists, with Wilbon posting his as each team is introduced. Wilbon refers to his as "A real man's board!", but when Kornheiser switches to his, he claims, "That's it! That's the list!" Another early segment was called "Love Em or Leave Em" where a female voice cooing "Ooo La-La!" was played before the hosts discussed an individual (whose head was on a stick) they were either "leaving" or "loving" and keeping on their side. A third rare segment is "Fair or Foul". It was introduced on February 28, 2007 after the hosts began repeating the words "fair or foul" for a few episodes because of a viewer email including them earlier in the week. The hosts discuss a variety of topics and decide if each is fair or foul (acceptable or not). If a host believes a topic is "foul", he could threw a yellow football penalty flag and/or blow a whistle.
Additionally, during the early run of PTI, a "Doctors" segment was featured occasionally, in which the hosts had to choose which head to cut off and throw in the trash out of two that were stuck together. The hosts dressed up as doctors for this segment, using coats and assorted accessories. Finally, a "time-machine" game was played once in 2005 and never returned.
Another recent game was debuted called "Too Soon?" where Reali asks the hosts if it's too soon for a certain sports situation to possibly occur. In November 2010, a new game entitled "Something or Nothing?" was created. In this game, Reali asked Tony and Mike if a recent sports event was significant (Something) or insignificant (Nothing). After both hosts gave their answers, Reali, through uncertain logic, determined who was correct. "Too Soon" and "Something or Nothing" are only played rarely.
On the last show before Thanksgiving, the third segment is usually reserved for the hosts to reveal their choices for Turkeys of the Year, usually people during the last year that have usually done notably stupid acts un-befitting of sport (funny or unfunny). As noted by Wilbon at the beginning of the segment, there is no criteria for the selection process, meaning anyone they see fit is eligible. Over the years, the list has vastly expanded from five to numerous candidates being named during the segment.
The hosts send out a "Happy Birthday", a "Happy (or in some cases, Not-So-Happy) Anniversary" (generally something that happened on the same date in the past rather than an anniversary), and a "Happy Trails" (a departure of some sort, such as a firing, injury, retirement, or death. In the case of a death, it is a "Melancholy Happy Trails," and the background music is silenced in respect of the deceased).
If time allows, Reali (nicknamed "Stat Boy") corrects any factual errors that Kornheiser and Wilbon may have made. From the time of the show's expansion in July 2005 until August 2009, Kornheiser and Wilbon would then give their recommendations for television viewing for the night as the last discussion segment of the show before SportsCenter. Wilbon usually chooses a sporting event, while Kornheiser will often opt for pop-culture based programming. Since September 2009, they use the ending of the half-hour broadcast to give shoutouts to whoever they deem worthy of one.
The half-hour broadcast concludes with Kornheiser waving a small Canadian flag while Wilbon mentions their podcast and pitches the show to the SportsCenter studio. According to Kornheiser, he first waved the flag and said "Goodnight, Canada" after an associate director told him that the additional PTI segment on Sportscenter did not air in Canada. Kornheiser made the routine into a trademark sign-off and continued even after TSN added the extra segment to its early-evening edition of SportsCenter.
From July 25, 2005 through sometime in 2011, the format of the show was altered to merge the final part of the show with the beginning of the 6:00 p.m. ET SportsCenter. After the opening segment of SportsCenter (normally 10-14 minutes), PTI returns to debate an additional sports-related topic, then end with The Big Finish where, for the final 60 seconds of the show, the hosts alternate making comments on several other stories, usually ending with Wilbon picking a winner in a sporting event later that night ("Who Ya Got?"). The segment (and show) ends with Kornheiser saying, "We're out of time, we'll try to do better the next time," and Wilbon saying "Same time tomorrow, knuckleheads." or "Have a great weekend, knuckleheads." on Fridays. Kornheiser will wave the show logo (on a stick) in front of his face and tell someone (usually a famous person or someone he knows) to go to his/her room, inspired by Betty Draper's parenting on Mad Men.
For the re-air on ESPN2, the show moves straight to the post-SportsCenter topic after the third commercial break, skipping segment 4. According to Nielsen ratings, PTI paired with Around the Horn combined to average more viewers than SportsCenter.
During football season, Monday editions of PTI used to air in the former (30-minute) format, with no shoutouts or SportsCenter segment. Until midway through the 2008 season the show also took place at the Monday Night Football host stadium as Kornheiser was a part of the Monday broadcast team; after that Kornheiser hosted from an undisclosed location in the host city while Wilbon hosted from the PTI studios in Washington. After Kornheiser's departure from Monday Night Football after the 2008 season, PTI reverted to its normal format for the 2009 football season after the first week of Monday Night Football.
Since the show premiered, the show has reverted to its original format where The Big Finish closes the show, though Kornheiser usually still offers shoutouts at the very end of the show. Wilbon and Kornheiser still have their additional debate as a part of SC, but it is no longer treated as a formal part of PTI.
Beginning September 2, 2008 and for all shows except for those taped at the site of a Monday Night Football game, inserts of Kornheiser and Wilbon's discussion air for 15-20 seconds as bumpers between the commercial breaks of the show. One can see the two hosts having their makeup fixed and discussing everything from whom one has recently met to inside jokes between the hosts.
The longevity and popularity of the show has led to numerous running jokes between Wilbon and Kornheiser that longtime viewers will recognize. Some of these include such gags as The Bald Brotherhood, Blowed Out, (He's) Ya Boy, Beatdown!, Strugg-a-ling, The Yanks and the Sawks!, Choking Dawgs!, The Penguin Dance, Kornheiser's I-95 Bias, The Wilbon Power Rankings, Let Me Axe You Something, Uranus, Playoffs? Playoffs?, Ya Gotta Get Low, Bulls Corner, Drew Breeees, Washington "Natinals" (purposely mispronounced as such), Good Night Canada, Ball/Puck Night!, The Lig, Tony's "Population Theory", and The Trampoline Bear.
In addition, for the first 3½ years of the show, Kornheiser only hosted a few shows away from the studio, with Wilbon during the week of Super Bowl XXXVI. Meanwhile, Wilbon has hosted many shows at the location of a sporting event he was attending. This has resulted in much teasing of Kornheiser by Wilbon, including Kornheiser's fear of flying. Finally, on March 27, 2006, Kornheiser for the first time hosted the show away from the studio while Wilbon remained back at the set, as Kornheiser was in Orlando, Florida, covering the NFL owners meetings. For the first time in November 2006, Kornheiser and Wilbon "chatted split-screen" from two different locations away from Washington, D.C.
Usually during Report Card, Tony Kornheiser's name is spelled as "Tiny" instead of "Tony". Another common gag is during games such as Report Card and Odds Makers, Dan Le Batard's name will often be Don, rather than Dan.
The short-lived CBS show Listen Up! was based on the life of Tony Kornheiser. In it, the main characters Tony Kleinman (Jason Alexander) and Bernie Widmer (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) co-hosted an off-beat sports show titled "Listen Up!" On the day Listen Up! debuted, Warner and Alexander appeared in character on PTI's intro.
On February 8, 2006, it was announced that Tony Kornheiser would join Mike Tirico and Joe Theismann in the broadcast booth during Monday Night Football beginning in the 2006 NFL season. Kornheiser continued to host PTI, and Wilbon joined him on the road as they broadcast PTI each Monday from the site of the MNF game, and there has also been an extra PTI segment inserted during halftime of ESPN's Monday Night games (although in 2008, Wilbon stayed in the DC studios, on many Mondays). In the months leading up to the 2006 NFL season, Kornheiser would often offer self-deprecating comments on the PTI show, saying that he'd be horrible for the MNF job or that he wished that certain people that are topics on the show would ride the bus with him to the game, as he has an admitted fear of flying. On the April 6, 2006, edition of PTI, the same day that the upcoming NFL season's schedule was released, Kornheiser gave a humorous insight into how he felt about his upcoming travel schedule, sarcastically commenting about how there weren't any East Coast games on the schedule. He also took the time to apologize to fans in Jacksonville, Florida, whose city Kornheiser described in his Washington Post column as having only Waffle Houses, since there was a Monday Night game in Jacksonville on September 18, the second week of the NFL season. Kornheiser said on the show that if at all possible, he would like to avoid traveling to the city of Seattle again since each time he went there, the weather was atrocious (such as the downpour and wind that was constant in week 9 against Oakland and the snowstorm in week 12 against Green Bay).
Wilbon is a frequent guest on Kornheiser's eponymous podcast.
Tony Kornheiser appeared briefly in Episode 2, 'Baggage', of the hit Reagan-era spy drama series 'The Americans' season 3 in 2015. Although visually it was a non-speaking role, soon after his part on screen, where he can be seen watching a game while sitting in a sports bar, he can be heard off-camera moments later, shouting, 'What a shot...!'
On October 30, 2010, SportsNation did their entire 1 hour show in the style of PTI. At the end of the show Tony Reali ripped the show in a 1-minute rant.
On February 18, 2012, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil featured Wilbon and Kornheiser as the local policemen with a nod to their good cop/bad cop PTI segment.
From 2011 to 2012, The Onion had a parody of PTI, "Get Out Of My Face" (aka "GOOMF").
When one of the normal hosts is sick or on vacation, they have a guest host, usually another prominent sportswriter. Overall, there have been more than 20 guest hosts. Typically, Kornheiser and Wilbon almost never appear together during the summer months of July and August. The most frequently seen guest hosts are sportswriters Frank Isola, lovingly called "Fill-in Frank" during his appearances, Dan Le Batard of The Miami Herald (who is always introduced by his co-host of the day, and marks his first appearance on camera with a by now familiar "BAM!!"), Bill Simmons formerly of ESPN.com, and Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe and ESPN's similarly styled Around The Horn. ATH panelists J. A. Adande, Kevin Blackistone, Tim Cowlishaw, Jay Mariotti and Jackie MacMullan have all had stints as guest hosts. Rachel Nichols began hosting after returning to ESPN from her former career at Turner Sports.
Many other guest hosts were used in the past, including David Aldridge, Skip Bayless, Jay Bilas, Norman Chad, Mike Golic, Sally Jenkins, Max Kellerman, Tim Kurkjian, Patrick McEnroe, Bill Plaschke, Rick Reilly, T.J. Simers, Dan Shaughnessy, Michael Smith, Stephen A. Smith, Michele Tafoya, Mike Tirico, Bob Valvano, and Ralph Wiley of ESPN and sportswriters Jason Whitlock of The Kansas City Star and David Dupree and Jon Saraceno of USA Today.
Kornheiser was absent more than usual during Summer 2006 for medical reasons. During a phone interview on the August 15, 2006 edition of The Dan Patrick Show, Kornheiser explained this absence in most of July by revealing that he was recovering from skin cancer surgery.
Starting in the 2006 NFL season, Kornheiser and Wilbon began hosting PTI from the stadium that was hosting the Monday Night Football game. The following season, they began staging a live 3-topic, 3-minute version of the show during halftime of the game.
In 2004, Crackerjack Television started producing an Australian version of the show, which airs weekly on the Australian ESPN channel and features former Australian Rules footballer Sam Kekovich and radio and television broadcaster Russell Barwick. ESPN Australia also broadcasts the American version of PTI editions before SportsCenter.
The ESPN Deportes show Cronómetro (Spanish for "stopwatch") is modeled after PTI and Sports Reporters, in that it features personalities talking about sports subjects for a set amount of time. Unlike PTI, there are four panelists instead of two, and segments such as Role Play are not used. Five Good Minutes is used as a discussion of one subject between the four analysts. ESPN Brasil also has a version of Cronómetro called É Rapidinho (rough translation from Portuguese: "It's Fast").
NESN, in partnership with The Boston Globe, premiered Globe 10.0 in 2007, which airs at 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday. Hosted by Globe columnist Bob Ryan and a rotating cast of other sports writers, the show has ten topics that the two writers debate for one and a half minutes, in the same format as PTI (Ryan himself frequently fills-in on PTI on nights when Globe 10.0 doesn't air).
On March 25, 2008, SportsNet New York premiered two new half-hour shows, The Wheelhouse and Loud Mouths, which are similar to PTI and to each other, having two panelists debate sports topics. The Wheelhouse has a moderator and sports personalities as guests while Loud Mouths incorporates viewer calls and e-mails. These shows air every weekday at 5:30 and 6:00 p.m., respectively.
Prior to PTI, the Empire Sports Network had a similar show entitled Pros and Cons. Ed Kilgore (WGRZ-TV sports director, generally portraying an optimist) and Art Wander (then a sports talk host for WGR, portraying the antagonist or pessimist view) were the primary combatants, with former The Buffalo News columnist Larry Felser also on the panel. The program lasted from 1992 to 1996.
Rodesiler, Luke (2015). "A PTI-Inspired Pedagogy: Appropriating Sports-Talk Discussion Protocols to Facilitate Literature Study". In Eckard, Sandra (ed.). Yin and Yang in the English Classroom: Teaching with Popular Culture Texts. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. pp. 31-48. ISBN 978-1475806885.