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TCA press tour: Keith Olbermann wants to have ‘fun’ again on ESPN2

ESPN on-air personality Keith Olbermann at the "SportsCenter" studio set in 1996. He is rejoining ESPN to host a weeknight talk show.
(Rick LaBranche / Associated Press)

Keith Olbermann has been known in the last several years for his fiery political views and for battling with his bosses.

But he’ll leave that behind when he starts up his new weeknight talk show next month on ESPN2. During a press tour session to promote “Olbermann,” the host said the focus would be solidly on sports.

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“I’ve done and enjoyed and own the work that I’ve done, but that’s not what this is,” Olbermann said. He said his most recent stints at MSNBC and Current TV “took a lot out of me, and were not that much fun.”

He is returning to a network where he also clashed with bosses during the 1990s when he hosted “SportsCenter.” “I had fun doing ‘SportsCenter,’ ” he noted when contrasting his previous jobs.

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He denied reports that he had been banned from discussing politics by ESPN. “This is a sports show,” he stressed.

Olbermann will host the self-titled weeknight show on ESPN2 starting Aug. 26. Airing at 8 p.m. on the West Coast, it will contain “commentary,” interviews, contributors and panel discussions.

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The show marks the controversial host’s return to the sports world more than 15 years after he departed in a furor and with bad feelings -- and more than a year after being fired from his job at Current TV, where he hosted the political talk show “Countdown.”

He received national notice after hosting a nightly political sports show that boosted the fortunes of MSNBC and helped establish it as a platform for liberal politics. He left in 2011 after clashing with his bosses.

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Olbermann got his start in broadcasting through sports. He joined ESPN in 1992 and cohosted “SportsCenter” until 1997.

He said the difference between his show and other sports show would be “I’m honest,” joking that the network was also looking for a sports show that could be named “Olbermann,” and that he was the only one who qualified.

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Although sports was the topic for most of the session, he couldn’t resist making a joke when asked about the latest sexting scandal involving New York mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner and his online alias “Carlos Danger.”

“That’s such a great fake hotel sigh-in name,” he said.

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