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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

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In Sports

Dennis Miller will perform Saturday night at the Pabst Theater.

In Sports

Monday Night Football made a splash by hiring Miller in 2000.

In Sports

Kornheiser (second from left) and the new MNF crew.

In Sports

Kornheiser and play-by-play man Mike Tirico.

Exclusive: Dennis Miller on MNF's Tony Kornheiser

With the Packers slated to face Cincinnati in a NFL exhibition tonight on ESPN, much of Cheesehead Nation will get its first full dose of Tony Kornheiser as color analyst.

Kornheiser, the longtime Washington Post columnist, radio host and star of "Pardon the Interruption," has received mixed reviews thus far from viewers and critics, including a scathing shot from a writer at his own paper.

Dennis Miller knows the feeling.

"It's a hot seat," the comedian said during a phone interview with last week. "When I was there, I think half the people hated it and half the people liked it. That's how it goes. People don't like change. There are people that are going to hate whoever they put in there."

"I think (Kornheiser) is going to be fine. I won't even watch until he's got about 10 games under his belt. It's a tough chair to be in."

Miller, the former "Saturday Night Live" star who will perform his standup act Saturday night at the Pabst Theater, was hired by ABC amid much fanfare in 2000 and was featured on a Sports Illustrated cover story that asked "Can Dennis Miller Save Monday Night Football?"

"I know a lot of you people are thinking that I won't take this seriously," Miller said during his debut broadcast. "But, I just want you to know it is a game, but I also realize it's a game a lot of you take seriously. It's not the Vatican, but then again, the Pope doesn't have to go across the middle on guy like Ronnie Lott very frequently."

"I'll do my best, I'll study hard. Let's tee it up and have some fun."

Though he sprinkled in a few political and cultural references that resonated with casual fans, Miller didn't create much chemistry with Michaels and Fouts and was fired after his second season. Some viewers saw him as an outsider brought in to generate ratings. Kornheiser, who has a deep background in sports, should have an advantage in that regard.

In one of his first broadcasts, Kornheiser referred to the Minnesota Vikings as "the most scandal-plagued team in the entire NFL last year," and said "I won't go through the whole laundry list, but the sex-boat thing, that was a show-stopper. As they say on "Seinfeld" -- 'That's gold, Jerry. That's gold.'"

Miller said he wasn't surprised that Kornheiser got some heat from sportswriters.

"There are a lot of sportswriters out there," he said. "And on their first day on the job, they all probably fantasize about being the third guy in that booth. Then, (Kornheiser) gets to be the guy that does it. Automatically, a lot of guys are going to hate him for that. That's why it's such a hot chair."

Miller has experience with another hot chair -- the one behind the anchor desk on SNL's "Weekend Update." Which one was more daunting?

"Football," he said without hesitation. "It's such a closed community."

Miller laughed when asked if the role of Monday Night Football had been diminished by the move from network to cable TV.

"As long as they've got that theme song, it's a big deal," he said. "That's why everybody is talking about it. As long as they've got that theme – Dah-dah-dah-dah! -- it's a big deal."


JAinNashville | Oct. 20, 2007 at 6:27 p.m. (report)

Mr. Miller regarding your comment about change. Change is inevitable, so is the expectation of having a host of a show to be knowledgable about the subject he/she is is involved with. In my opinion you and Tony rank about the same in lack of knowledge about Americas sport. FOOTBALL

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OMCreader | Aug. 28, 2006 at 7:27 p.m. (report)

Reader said: Good work on this You'd think other media would have thought to ask him this he is coming to town this weekend! Keep it up,\\

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