Tuesday May 21, 2019

19.3M tuned in for the Game of Thrones series finale on Sunday, the most viewers for a single-episode in HBO’s history. Here’s how the show’s final and most watched season did over its 6-episode run:

Episode 1: Winterfell – 17.4M
Episode 2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms – 15.9M
Episode 3: The Long Night – 17.8M
Episode 4: The Last of the Starks – 17.2M
Episode 5: The Bells – 18.4M
Episode 6: The Iron Throne – 19.3M

A trailer for season 3 of Stranger Things, which will be available to stream on Netflix on July 4.

CBS announced that Big Brother  will return for a two-night premiere on June 25 and 26. As is always the case with this summer treat, it will air three times a week: After its first Sunday airing on June 30, it will start airing on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays beginning July 10.

CBS premieres Blood & Treasure tonight. “Blood & Treasure  is a globe-trotting action-adventure drama about a brilliant antiquities expert and a cunning art thief who team up to catch a ruthless terrorist who funds his attacks through stolen treasure. Danny McNamara is a former FBI agent specializing in stolen art and antiquities. Lexi Vaziri is a resourceful art thief who is haunted by the tragic loss of her father, which she blames on Danny. When terrorist Karim Farouk absconds with a priceless artifact and kidnaps Danny's mentor Dr. Anna Castillo, Danny recruits Lexi to help him bring Farouk to justice and rescue Anna. As they chase down Farouk, they encounter unscrupulous individuals who may either be useful allies or dangerous enemies, including Aiden Shaw, an arms dealer who acts solely in his self-interest, and Simon Hardwick, an expert at procuring pilfered artifacts. Danny and Lexi are assisted by Father Chuck, a childhood friend of Danny's who works at the Vatican Foreign Ministry in Rome. Their hunt draws the attention of Interpol agent Gwen Karlsson, who wants Farouk brought to justice, but won't allow Danny and Lexi to break international laws in the process. As they crisscross the world hunting their target, Danny and Lexi unexpectedly find themselves at the center of a 2,000-year-old battle for the cradle of civilization.”

The Voice crowns another winner tonight who will likely fade away never to be heard from again along with the rest of the series’ “winners.”

AMC has canceled Humans.

Facebook Watch’s revival ofThe Real World will debut on June 13.

On that note, “MTV and Facebook are teaming up to stream three full seasons of The Real World on Facebook Watch, the social media giant’s video platform. Starting [yester]day, The Real World season 16, 17, and 28 will be available on MTV’s The Real World show page, Facebook announced Monday morning. The three seasons, which were voted on and selected by fans of the show, will lead up to the premiere of MTV’s Facebook Watch version of the show, which will launch on June 13. The upcoming season will follow seven strangers who come together at a house in Atlanta, Georgia as every moment of their lives is taped.”

“Anxious for the return of Black Mirror (and all the paranoia that comes with it)? Allow Netflix to tide you over with new details for Season 5. The streamer has unveiled titles, synopses and individual trailers for the three new episodes that will drop on Wednesday, June 5.”

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Bran the Broken (Isaac Hempstead Wright) penned the following for The Hollywood Reporter: “It would be hard to overstate just how important a part of my life Game of Thrones has been. Practically every key life event I have ever experienced is in some way connected to my time on Thrones. Having finally reached this milestone in TV history and my own personal history, I am looking back on these unique and formative years of my life.

“I come from a family with no experience in the acting world. My mum and dad are teachers, and my step-dad runs a printing company — not exactly very Hollywood. As a child I was fond of make-believe games, and so it made sense to join a drama group. After a brief stint trying to make it in my local football team (it is fair to say the Premier League won’t be calling any time soon), I traded Saturdays outside in the cold for the warm environs of my local drama club. (The ultimate irony is that for the next ten years, I would be spending weeks on end in cold, muddy fields.)

“My drama teacher noticed that I might have the makings of a child actor — patience, enthusiasm, an ability to listen well — and suggested I go forward for auditions. My parents were skeptical of the whole idea of child acting and so were keen not to let it become too much of a focus, hence I was allowed to do six auditions, with my final one being for an HBO pilot called Game of Thrones. After I got the part, we were presented with a 30-page contract which would sign 6 years of my life away. None of us knew what to do or how to react. At the time, there were conversations between my parents about whether this was something they should let their 10-year-old do. Sending your child to work hasn’t been very fashionable since the Victorian times. Looking back now and knowing what an extraordinary chance I was given, it makes me feel slightly sick to think of how I would feel now had we decided not to do it. It is truly one of those pivotal moments in one’s life that will alter its entire course.

“One thing I am grateful for is the fact that I was around adults, in a working environment, from a very young age. I think I was quite a mature kid anyway, but being in a world where you have genuine responsibilities, and are a direct part of something which the whole world will analyze intricately, makes you acutely aware of how you need to behave. I had to grow up very quickly, and sometimes I feel as though I have lived a life's worth of experience already, despite only being at the start of mine.

“Becoming a teenager on the show was strange. Your teenage years are difficult enough without the added complication of being on the world's biggest television show. The Game of Thrones community feels like a family, and so I found myself getting frustrated when I effectively watched my older siblings getting to go out and grow up while I was still being chaperoned by my mother.

“The phenomenon of Thrones is not something I am ever likely to experience again in my life. The level of hysteria and speculation around it is unprecedented. When we shot those final scenes of the Starks on the bay in King's Landing, we were told not to leave our hotel room in Croatia for fear of giving something away. When we got into the cars to go to set, we were smothered in blankets to obscure our faces and costumes. HBO also booked out every single room with a possible view of what we were shooting so that nobody could take any covert photographs. We were also accompanied by a top security guard who arranged every move we made as though we were secret service agents on some mission abroad. Sometimes you had to remind yourself that this is only a TV show.

“As I sit and write this now, I realize my very last week on the Game of Thrones set was exactly a year ago. We spent five days shooting in Seville for the Dragonpit scene, which was a fairly spectacular way to wrap up our time on the show. Several other actors who were not even in the scene were flown over to throw paparazzi off the scent, and they were pretty grateful for their free holiday while we shot under the unrelenting sun.

“One thing I can say about Thrones with confidence is that I have never, ever been in a comfortable temperature. In Belfast, my days were plagued with sodden, muddy feet and biting winds, and then in studios (and sunny Spain) I would overheat swaddled in my myriad cloaks and furs. Thankfully, we had nifty inventions called cool suits which pumped ice water around cables pressed against our skin. You could always tell when an actor was making use of their cool bag; you would find them slumped in a corner with a glazed expression over their eyes, sitting in rapture at the relief from the blistering heat.

“The first day of the Dragonpit scene was all my coverage. I can remember being slightly unnerved by this: it was a mammoth scene (around 10 minutes of dialogue between us all) and I'd hoped to have a bit more time to play it out and get a feel for it with everyone else. Before long though I got into the swing of things, and at the end of the day Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry, complimented my performance and I was reassured. We then returned to the hotel, where there were crowds the likes of which I'd never experienced before. Masses of people were screaming and shouting and pressing their faces against the car window hoping to catch a glimpse of one us. It was like being one of the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania; I must say I am glad it is not something I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

“When it came to the very final shot, it all dawned on me. This was to be the death of my character; it would be the last time I would ever breathe life into him, the last time I would sit in my costume on a Game of Thrones set and think about what it feels like to be Bran. That was something I had done as a regular fixture of my life since the age of 10, and so it felt very sad to be saying farewell. What was nice about that final shot was that it was a very long wide, and so we needn't have run through the whole 10 minutes of dialogue — but we did. Our microphones were off and nobody will ever hear those performances, but for me, it felt like a wonderful last opportunity to really be Bran. The camera was so far away you could hardly see it and we had a rare chance to act directly across from one another with no machinery or lighting in the way, as if we were on stage. It was a very special goodbye to my character.

“After ‘cut’ was yelled for the last time, David and Dan came and presented us with our wrap gifts as well as delivering us each a speech. They said some incredibly kind things to me that I shall never forget, and as they said their final words and it was clear the day was done, I lost my composure. It all became a bit of a blubbering mess as we bid farewell to people we'd worked with for a decade of our lives — people who had known me almost as intimately as an uncle or aunt would, seeing me grow up year by year and become the person I am today. It was overwhelming.

“I can remember walking back to base from set that beautiful Spanish evening instead of taking the car. The sun was just setting, and as I walked through ancient Roman ruins in the dying sun, I thought about how this empire was now at its end. This great monolith in my life that had been a yearly source of fun and familiarity was to be no more. I would no longer have an excuse to spend weeks around these great friends of mine. I would no longer be splitting my time between home and my second home of Belfast. It was a moment that was quite impossible to have imagined ever happening when I first embarked on this unique journey all those years before. It was very poignant, and final.

“But upon returning to the hotel feeling slightly somber, I spent some time outside chatting with and signing for the fans who had patiently waited outside all day. Any sense of sadness disappeared, because I realized that, while this journey may have been over for me, it was far from over for the world. It drove home to me the reason we do what we do, the reason we sit out in the heat in strange costumes saying made-up words: people love to watch Game of Thrones. People adore the thing I have been a very small part of, and that is something very special indeed. Game of Thrones will stick around for many years; new people will discover it, others will rewatch it, and so it will go on. Bran may have been ‘dead’ to me at that point, but he lives on in the intangible realm of the televisual world and in the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. And that, no matter how sad I may have found it leaving the show, is a feeling so profound that I couldn't possibly be sad for long.

“As for me, I am thrilled with the way the show ends. At the beginning of the show, Bran is a disabled 10-year-old with slim chances of surviving in this harsh universe. He will never be the warrior who comes in on horseback and saves the day, but he is resilient. He survives attempted murder more times than I can count; he journeys with only a handful of other people to one of the most dangerous and northerly points on the map, and he returns one of the most powerful characters in Westeros. I find it an extraordinary character arc to see him go from a vulnerable character totally dependent on others to the one person who holds all the keys to understanding the world. Bran becoming king is a victory for the still and considered people of this world, who too often get side-lined by the commotion of those who are louder and more reactionary. He doesn't shout to make himself heard, but instead waits and chooses his words and actions very carefully. In that, I think Bran presents a valuable reminder to us all in this day and age where sensationalism is rife and anybody can voice an opinion to millions, to sit and consider things a little more carefully.

“The ending of the show has been dramatic and unexpected. Witnessing Dany descend into primal anger is hard indeed, and I can see why people took it to heart. But Thrones is at its best when it does things that hurt us — Hodor's death, for example — and episodes five and six of the final season are no different. There is perhaps no harder scene to watch than when Jon kills the woman he loves in the hope that it might save the kingdom. It is an impossibly difficult decision to make, and the jury is out on whether it was the right thing to do — and we will never know.

“In that lies the cleverness of Thrones: nothing is tied up neatly, and we are instead forced to ponder what the fate of this once great kingdom will be after everything has gone so wrong. Nothing sums it up better than Tyrion's line to Jon Snow when asked if he had done the right thing, which I have been covertly using in interview questions to answer how I feel about the years I have given to Thrones: ‘Ask me in ten years.’

“Life doesn’t have neat, happy endings; it is ambiguous and ultimately inconsequential. To end Game of Thrones with uncertainty is perhaps the most honest way to end a story so vast and complex — and that uncertainty is what we all feel as we begin our life after Thrones.”

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Game of Thrones, the HBO drama series that David Benioff and Dan Weiss adapted from and then grew beyond George R.R. Martin's novels, came to an end Sunday night after 73 movie-scale episodes spanning eight groundbreaking seasons of television — but, unlike the Iron Throne and so many of the characters who fought over it, the show itself lives on, at least for the next few months, as a contender for the 2019 Emmys.

Thrones has been a favorite of the TV Academy throughout its run, garnering a total of 128 nominations, more than any other scripted show in history, 47 of which it wound up winning. Among that tally are best drama series nominations for all seven of its previous seasons, the three most recent of which — coming in 2015, 2016 and 2018 — resulted in wins. And in 2015, Thrones established a new record for most Emmy wins for a series in a single year, with 12.

“But a danger of making a show that builds toward the answer of one question, above all else, is that viewers may not like that answer, and, having invested a great deal of time and emotion in the journey to that point, may react very negatively. Just ask the creators of Lost or Dexter.

“We now know that 13.6 million viewers tuned in to the Thrones series finale, or 19.3 million if you count replays and early streaming, both HBO records. And, based on post-show polling, social media chatter and opinion pieces, it appears that very few of the people who tuned in are content with how everything turned out.

“The entire eighth season of the show has taken flack. Five of its six episodes are among the show's six most-watched episodes ever, but that may not be a good thing, considering that more than one million fans have signed a petition calling for HBO to remake the season ‘with competent writers.’

Thrones is not a show that people watched dispassionately — the oversight of a water bottle for a flicker of a scene nearly broke the Internet, to say nothing of the revelation about which character won the 'game.'

“Now, at a fraught moment for HBO — the cabler has endured an exodus of executives in the wake of its acquisition by AT&T and in the face of Netflix's ascendance, just as Thrones and the Emmy-winning comedy series Veep are ending their runs — comes a once-unthinkable question: could the final season of Thrones actually lose best drama series at the 71st Emmys on Sept. 22?

“Apart from reservations from fans, there is further cause for concern. Reviews for the season have been mixed leaning poor, with many critics arguing that the show's resolution felt rushed, perhaps because Benioff and Weiss wanted the show's final two seasons to consist of fewer episodes than the previous six. TV Guide, for instance, wrote, ‘The final season of Game of Thrones has largely turned into an unstoppable dumpster fire because of the writers' ongoing mistreatment of women and rushed writing that mistakes foreshadowing for character development.’

The New York Times, for its part, opined that the finale was ‘plagued by the same incoherence that has inspired abundant Twitter rage this season and at least one effigial petition,’ while also knocking the "weird pacing that has marred much of the past two seasons" and lamenting that ‘over the past couple of seasons, at least, the series became something different from what most of us signed up for.’

“It added, ‘The things that established Game of Thrones as a phenomenon — the epic scale, the shocking twists — began to work against it. Plot swerves got more abrupt as the writers tried to stay ahead of the obsessive audience — without the benefit of a blueprint, once the show surpassed the books — and story was sacrificed at the altar of spectacle as the series strove to top itself over and over. And it's partly because Benioff and Weiss failed to anticipate the ways in which dramatically abbreviating the last two seasons would exacerbate all of the above.’ So that could be a problem.

“Moreover, no show — drama or comedy — has ever won a series prize at the Emmys for as few as six episodes, the minimum number for which a show is eligible. (Thrones set a record low last year when it won for just seven.) And, furthermore, only nine shows — just four of them dramas — have ever won a series award for a final season: drama Playhouse 90 in 1960; comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1966; comedy My World and Welcome to It, which won for its one and only season before being canceled due to poor ratings, in 1970; drama Upstairs, Downstairs in 1977; comedy The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1977; comedy Barney Miller, the only final-season winner that had never even been series-nominated before, in 1982; comedy Everybody Loves Raymond in 2005; drama The Sopranos in 2007; and drama Breaking Bad in 2014.

“Logic dictates that this is because most series, if they were good enough to win an Emmy, wouldn't be ending; many prefer wearing out their welcome over going out on top (see: Modern Family). And it is striking to note that even beloved classics that ended in a way that was widely embraced, such as Mad Men, came up short for a top prize.

“On the flip side, though, there appears to be no clear alternative to Thrones around which large numbers of TV Academy members are uniting. Likely fellow nominees like NBC's This Is Us, BBC America's Killing Eve and AMC's Better Call Saul certainly have passionate backers, but none generate the magnitude of viewership or chatter that Thrones mustered in this era of Peak— but fragmented — TV. Even if they did, none of them would generate anywhere near the number of total noms that Thrones will deservedly receive — its craft and technical work is second to none in the history of the medium — which, upon being announced on July 16, will only fuel the notion that the show can't be beaten.

“In short, despite Thrones' various hiccups, it remains hard to imagine anything ultimately coming between the show and a fourth drama series Emmy, which would tie it with Hill Street BluesL.A. LawThe West Wing and Mad Men for the most wins in the category's history. Thrones, not unlike the final installment in The Lord of the Ringsfilm trilogy, will, in all likelihood, be recognized as much for the scale of the whole series' ambition and impact as its most recent achievement. And, at the end of the day, as a certain three-eyed raven could tell you, a win is a win.”

The real impetus behind me posting this article was the fine use of the word “opined.” Kudos.

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George R.R. Martin offered his thoughts on the GoT finale on his blog: “The last night, the last show.   After eight epic seasons, HBO’s GAME OF THRONES series has come to an end.

It is hard to believe it is over, if truth be told.   The years have gone past in the blink of an eye.  Can it really have been more than a decade since my manager Vince Gerardis set up a meeting at the Palm in LA, and I sat down for the first time with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for a lunch that lasted well past dinner?  I asked them if they knew who Jon Snow’s mother was.   Fortunately, they did.

That was how it started.  It ended last night.

I had no clue, that afternoon at the Palm, that I was about to embark on a journey that would change my life.   I had optioned books and stories for television and film before.  Some had even been made   There was no way to know that this one was going to be different, that this pilot would not only be shot,  but would go on to become the most successful show in the history of HBO, win a record number of Emmy Awards, become the most popular (and most pirated) show in the world, and transform a group of talented but largely unknown actors into major celebrities and stars.   Even less did I imagine that I would somehow become a celebrity as well… and if truth be told, I’m still not sure how that happened.

It has been a wild ride, to say the least.

I want to thank people, but there are so many.   There were forty-two cast members at the season eight premiere in New York City, and that wasn’t even all of them.   And the crew, though less visible than the cast, were no less important.  We had some amazing people working on this show, as all those Emmys bear witness.   David & Dan assembled a championship team.   The directors were incredible as well.   I should start naming names, but then I’d miss someone, there were so many.   But I do need to mention David Benioff, Dan Weiss, Bryan Cogman (the third head of the dragon, as I said in the recent VANITY FAIR piece about him), and of course the great team at HBO, headed by Richard Plepler.   Any other network, and GAME OF THRONES would not have been what it became.  Most other networks, this series never gets made at all.

I could go on and on… and have, as I’ve been writing this post in my head… but there’s really too much to say.   Parting is such sweet sorrow, the Bard wrote.  In the weeks and months to come, I may post about some of my favorite moments from the making of this show… now and again, when I am feeling nostalgic… but just now, there are so many memories, and no time to do them all justice.

Let me say this much — last night was an ending, but it was also a beginning.   Nobody is retiring any time soon.   David and Dan are going on to STAR WARS and other projects beyond that.   Amazon scooped up Bryan Cogman, and put him to work on developing shows of his own, as well as helping out on their big Tolkien project.   Our brilliant cast has scattered to the four winds, but you’ll be seeing a lot of them in the years to come, in all manner of television shows and movies.   Our directors are keeping busy as well.   I suspect that you have not seen the last of Westeros on your television sets either, but I guess that all depends on how some of these successor shows turn out.

And me?  I’m still here, and I’m still busy.    As a producer, I’ve got five shows in development at HBO (some having nothing whatsoever to do with the world of Westeros), two at Hulu, one on the History Channel.   I’m involved with a number of feature projects, some based upon my own stories and books, some on material created by others.   There are these short films I am hoping to make, adaptations of classic stories by one of the most brilliant, quirky, and original writers our genre has ever produced.   I’ve consulted on a video game out of Japan.   And then there’s Meow Wolf…

And I’m writing.   Winter is coming, I told you, long ago… and so it is.   THE WINDS OF WINTER is very late, I know, I know, but it will be done.  I won’t say when, I’ve tried that before, only to burn you all and jinx myself… but I will finish it, and then will come A DREAM OF SPRING.

How will it all end? I hear people asking.   The same ending as the show?  Different?

Well… yes.  And no.  And yes.   And no.   And yes.   And no.   And yes.

I am working in a very different medium than David and Dan, never forget.   They had six hours for this final season.   I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I’m done… and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I’ll add them.   And of course the butterfly effect will be at work as well; those of you who follow this Not A Blog will know that I’ve been talking about that since season one.   There are characters who never made it onto the screen at all, and others who died in the show but still live in the books… so if nothing else, the readers will learn what happened to Jeyne Poole, Lady Stoneheart, Penny and her pig, Skahaz Shavepate, Arianne Martell, Darkstar, Victarion Greyjoy, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Aegon VI, and a myriad of other characters both great and small that viewers of the show never had the chance to meet.   And yes, there will be unicorns… of a sort…

Book or show, which will be the “real” ending?   It’s a silly question.   How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have?

How about this?  I’ll write it.   You read it.  Then everyone can make up their own mind, and argue about it on the internet.”

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Per TheWrap, “[a]s Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors attempt[ed] to sweep the NBA Western Conference Finals on Monday night, the director of Curry’s new Facebook Watch series Stephen vs. the Game is hoping to score a Sports Emmy win at the 40th awards ceremony in New York City.

“Gotham Chopra and his Religion of Sports team have been nominated for four Sports Emmys for their prior series, Tom vs. Time and Shut Up and Dribble.

“Their latest Versus on Watch documentary delivers unique insight into the personal and professional life of three-time NBA champion and reigning Finals MVP Curry, who has recently taken inspiration from another sports legend — Tom Brady.

TheWrap caught up with Chopra ahead of the Sports Emmys to talk Tom vs. Time, Stephen vs. the Game and an obscure Death Match wrestler named Cannonball, who gets hit in the face with cheese graters:

Was Stephen vs. the Game a natural progression for the Facebook Watch series?
Working with Facebook is super fun, and while it is one of the biggest media companies in the world, Tom vs. Time was one of the first pieces of long-term content that they’d partnered on. The autonomy we were given made it a great experience, and we’ve had the same sort of ride with Stephen vs. the Game.

We’ve talked about the similarities between the two, but how does Curry’s mindset differ to that of Brady?
One of the biggest differences is that although Tom has publicly talked about playing into his mid 40s, he is still closer to the end of his career than the beginning, so there is an evaluation of his legacy and body of work as everyone tries to understand what this will mean in the context of sports history.

While Steph is 10 years in and trying for a fourth championship, he is still in the middle of his career. He doesn’t think too much about legacy or what his place is in the history of the game. He is just very focused on the here and now. Every time I ask him a question of legacy, he just stares at me blankly — he is not in that place and doesn’t think about it.

Despite their huge sporting success, both Tom and Steph are great family guys, which is a side of them we don’t often get to see. 
I feel like there is old adage that athletes or people who attain greatness are so focused on their craft that it impacts the rest of their lives — that their relationships aren’t great, their marriages are flawed, they have problems with their parents or kids. Tom and Steph are examples of the opposite. They need balance, tranquility and strong foundations in their lives. They’ve both had that with their parents and siblings growing up, and that’s part of their success on the field and the court. I’ve gotten to see it a lot with Steph the past year. When he is dropping the kids at school or spending time with them, he is not checking his phone and not thinking about basketball. He is focused on being a dad, which is very important to him. When he is at home, he needs to be present so that when he goes to play, he can be present there.

As a father yourself, was that important to you when picking who was going to be the subject of the second series?
They play for two teams that are competitive at the highest level and they’re both great guys with strong families, and easy to work with so that was definitely attractive. While I am huge sports fan, sports is the backdrop to the series and these are well-rounded people who not only want to succeed at the highest level, but they want to contribute and for their jobs to mean something. It is relatable for me, as I’m fortunate to be close with my family as well.

Is there anything you learned about Steph that truly surprised you while making the series?
Steph is the real deal, most people think he is a good guy and have heard about his faith … he’s genuinely that guy and is very put together. When you watch him play, you would think he is like a robot because there is this effortlessness on the court, his game is like a ballet. But then you go to his house … Steph and Ayesha have three little girls, their parents are around — it is chaos, controlled chaos, but still chaos!

What is next for the series, will there be another season of Steph vs. the Game or will you focus on a different athlete?
We have a great partnership with Facebook and this is essentially a franchise at this point … we will wait to find the right athlete and when we do, we’ll go for it. Facebook looks at who is already on their platform, who has huge followings, who is really engaged in their communities. Then the question of “are they the best of the best?” We set the bar high with Tom and Steph so it needs to be someone in that sports and cultural cachet. Meanwhile, we have all our other Religion of Sports shows and the “Why Sports Matter” podcast, so there is plenty for me to do once this one is put to bed.”

This article has been condensed.