[This post originally ran on September 27, 2013.]
Eight days ago, Michelle Beadle blasted NBC’s lack of promotion for her show, The Crossover. Two days ago, the show was cancelled. And now, sources say, Beadle is in the process of leaving the network altogether – and possibly returning to ESPN.
Sources say Sam Flood, the executive producer of NBC Sports and the NBC Sports Network, was irate when he learned of Beadle’s comments on the Sports Media Watch Podcast earlier this week [fast-forward to the 23-minute mark]. On Sept. 19th, here’s what Beadle told Keith Thibault and Ken Fang:
“I love what we’re doing now, but then again I’m not an idiot. I realize we’re on a network that is new and struggling and we don’t get a lot of promotion. So I kind of battle with that every day. Do I fight the good fight and promote the show on my own? Do I just give up and act like a whiny person? It’s interesting, but we have such a good crew and they work hard.”
“I look at Twitter now and I think, ‘You know what, I’ve got more followers on Twitter than the network gets viewers. There’s got to be a way to turn that into eyes on the show.’ So that’s kind of where I am now. I hate it because it’s going to be so self-promoting, but I’m starting to realize if you don’t do that then it’s hard to complain after the fact.”
“I didn’t really get into having my own show to always be put on the backburner. It’s frustrating. It’s hard to get to some sort of regularity, the times change and we’re all over the place … [the show airs] every day except days when sailing, soccer and/or bike racing [are on].”
The comments were brutally honest, and what any frustrated TV personality might indicate … behind-the-scenes or to friends or colleagues. But on a podcast? She was speaking the truth, but if you’ve spent any time in corporate America, you know that rarely sits well with people who sit in corner offices.
Flood, a former college hockey player, has a coarse, abrasive managerial style according to those who have worked with him, and sources say he felt blindsided by one of the top on-air talents at the network and he wasn’t going to stand for it.
Flood and Beadle had butted heads before in her 16-months at NBC – some producers at NBCSN sided with Beadle’s thoughts that the network’s vibe should feel younger, but Flood is an old-school type – but, sources say, this one sent him over the edge. Sources say Flood decided he’d had enough, and Beadle’s show was getting scrapped. But instead of telling her first, he got word to Richard Sandomir of the New York Times that NBC was pulling the plug. Then, Flood called Beadle into a meeting, telling her the news.
Moments after walking out of the meeting, friends of Beadle say, she saw the news on twitter.
Beadle did not return multiple requests for comment on this story. Flood, when reached on his cell phone today, referred me to a network publicist and hung up, not wanting to answer questions. The NBC Sports Network PR department declined comment.
Sources say the situation between the two is now untenable, and rumors are swirling that as soon as her agent and NBC can come to an agreement, her days at NBC will be over and there’s a very good chance she’ll return to ESPN.
[UPDATE, January 21st: Sports Illustrated says that Beadle is leaving NBC and returning to ESPN. There's no confirmation from Beadle or ESPN and no date for her return is listed.]
For now, Beadle can be seen on Access Hollywood. There’s no timetable for when she would return to ESPN, but the buzz is that it’s a question of when, not if, she’ll return to the network she left in May 2012.