The details about the book are sketchy at this point but according to Miller, they're still in the process of interviewing the various personnel who've made ESPN the little sports cable news network into the cultural behemoth it is today. The book will be an oral history, but Miller told me that there will be " a lot more of us" in it this time around with more of a reported narrative in addition to the individual perspectives gleaned from the interviews.
And Mike Tirico should be thrilled to know this won't be a Mike Freeman-style takedown of the network, either. No, ESPN is apparently working with the two men to give them the first-hand "truth." That's not to say that some of the grimy details surrounding some of its personalities won't be excavated.
"We want to make sure, since there are so many kind of rumors and different theories about things that happen in Bristol, that what we put in the book is right. This is nothing against anything that anybody does now or in the past," Miller said. "There are a lot of times, you talk to a few people and they see things differently or remember things differently. We won't report rumor as fact. If we do that, I think our value proposition is kind of screwed."
For those who did read the SNL book, one of its most memorable moments was the seemingly cross-the-board hatred of Chevy Chase. A good portion of the cast members — both past and present — painted Chase as an ego-maniacal asshole. So far, Miller says, the Chevy Chase of ESPN hasn't been revealed yet. But he did say that some of the ESPN personalities he's spoken to so far have taken it upon themselves to make the SNL/ESPN correlation.
"A lot of people who worked there that we've spoken to have said 'I'm kind of like the John Belushi of ESPN' just because of the other book. Or said 'Well it would be kind of like when Mike Myers joined SNL...' as a way of explaining things. It makes sense, though. Both started in the 70s, both started with modest beginnings, both were kind of outliers, and have taken big steps in new directions, and both are still around."
Right now, there's no official release date set, but Miller says he and Shales are working very, very quickly and they already have the "architecture of the book and a lot of wind at our back."
"I think it's incumbent upon us to really figure out where we want to be and what we want to discuss. We feel like this is a book that hasn't been done yet," he said.
SNL's Oral Historians Tackle ESPN [GalleyCat]