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ESPN Tried Very Hard to Lure Seth Meyers to Host a Late-Night Sports TV Show. Who Will ESPN Make a Run at Next?

Seth Meyers, the Saturday Night Live fixture for the last decade, will be succeeding Jimmy Fallon as the host of Late Night next February, NBC announced this week. For the last month, it was widely regarded as the worst-kept secret in TV.

One of the best-kept secrets in TV? That the President of ESPN, John Skipper, privately attempted to woo Meyers to ESPN this year to host a late night sports talk show, two sources tell me. I had the opportunity to ask Skipper about it at ESPN’s Upfront presentation this morning in New York, and the question caught him off guard. First, silence, then he confirmed what my sources said.

“We um … look … we uh … we had some preliminary conversations with Seth Meyers’ representation because they were thinking about what he was going to do after this year. Clearly, the opportunity to work with Lorne, who he has known forever, and the opportunity to follow into Jimmy Fallon’s late night spot, there was never going to be any serious consideration [for us],” Skipper said.

“We were interested, but clearly, he had a better opportunity.”

Skipper went on to confirm one of the hottest non-Keith Olbermann rumors in Bristol: “We are interested in the late night spot. We’ve got all these lead-in games and … leading into what? But there is nothing imminent.” The other name floating around ESPN has been Craig Kilborn (formerly of Sportscenter), but Skipper told me they’ve had no talks with Kilborn.

A source close to Meyers tells me the talks with ESPN were more than “preliminary” and Skipper was so smitten with the 2-time ESPY host, he was willing to make a lengthy, lucrative investment in Meyers. Will Skipper’s next move be to pursue another comedian to host a show, or look in-house?

As for those Olbermann rumors, as I wrote in March, a decision should happen by month’s end. Skipper was asked about Olbermann this morning during a media scrum and laughed it off, saying he hasn’t talked to Keith Olbermann.

 

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