Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

New Reality Shows Are like Knight and Daly ; Two New Cable Shows Herald a Shift in Sports Programming toward Personality-Driven Fare

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

New Reality Shows Are like Knight and Daly ; Two New Cable Shows Herald a Shift in Sports Programming toward Personality-Driven Fare

Article excerpt

Fans of reality TV will soon be able to get up close and personal with scarlet-faced basketball coach Bobby Knight, he of chair- tossing fame, and John Daly, a roller-coaster golf star capable of turning the quotidian into catastrophe at the drop of a putter. Talk about fear factor.

Both men, equal parts famous and infamous for professional triumphs and personal missteps, are set to debut in reality series on sports cable networks. The focus on the outsized personalities behind the putts and playbooks - what viewers say they want - is where 24-hour sports networks "can create ... lifestyle shows and carve a bit of a niche," says Terry Hanson, a sports media consultant and former executive at Turner Sports.

On Jan. 18, The Golf Channel begins a 13-episode run of "The Daly Planet," which follows the daily exploits of the former British Open and PGA Championship winner, also known for his impulsive nature, gambling woes, alcoholism, weight battles, and three failed marriages.

Beginning Feb. 19, ESPN will air six 60-minute episodes of "Knight School." The eponymous coach won three national championships at Indiana University before leaving under a cloud of controversy sparked by his tantrums (a reputation the coach even profited from with several ads and a cameo in the Adam Sandler comedy "Anger Management"). The show follows 16 players vying for a single walk-on roster spot Mr. Knight's Texas Tech team.

The Golf Channel, by contrast, plans to focus on the periphery of Mr. Daly's competitive life. Viewers will ride with Daly on his private jet to the British Open, watch him jaw with waitresses from Hooters (one of his sponsors), and witness him smoking and drinking. A lot.

"We let John be John," says Wayne Becker, vice president of programming at The Golf Channel. "It's important to show John in all of his colors. He's a good guy. And like many people we all know, his greatest downfall is himself. He's his own worst enemy."

Executives at ESPN have revealed little about "Knight School," which was shot last fall. (The channel's newfound partnership with Knight is ironic because a 2002 ESPN made-for-TV movie portrayed the coach as a foul-mouthed tyrant with few redeeming character traits. …

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