|Friday, May 30
The cold reality for Tyson: TV show on hold
By Darren Rovell
Three months ago it appeared as though Mike Tyson's next big buck might come through a starring role in a reality television show. But a Hollywood producer, who was then in the midst of negotiations with ABC, said the project is now on hold.
"ABC elected to not do it perhaps because of questions surrounding ad sales," said Stu Schreiberg, executive producer of Triage Entertainment. Schreiberg came up with the idea of a Tyson reality show more than a year ago and pitched it to most major networks.
"There is another channel that is interested, but right now it is not moving forward at all," Schreiberg said. "I guess it depends on what happens with Mike in the future."
Tyson made news Thursday when he reiterated, in an interview broadcast on Fox, that he did not rape Desiree Washington in 1991 and that the rapist label brought about by his conviction has hurt him enough that "now I really do want to rape her." ABC officials, who did not return calls seeking comment, had already passed before Thursday's comments were made.
The reality show presumably would involve an average man in training for a fight against Tyson on live television.
While some of the former heavyweight champion's fights have been among the most-watched pay-per-view bouts of all-time, a network entering into a contract with Tyson could be perceived as a risk. Tyson's last fight -- against Clifford Etienne in February -- was originally called off in the days leading up to it because Tyson was said to have had the flu. Tyson eventually showed up behind schedule with a large tattoo on the left side of his face. He then proceeded to knock out Etienne in 49 seconds, the sixth quickest knockout of an opponent in his career.
Tyson, who needed money to pay bills and a divorce settlement with his ex-wife, received a $5 million guarantee for the Etienne fight. A reality show might mean millions more.
"The concept of the show itself could definitely work, but it would probably have to be with someone other than Tyson," said Bob Dorfman, sports analyst for Pickett Advertising. "He'd add an element of insanity to it and probably get higher ratings, but it would be hard for a network to rely on him to pull his end of the show."
Media buyers expressed concern that it might not be prudent for companies to associate themselves as advertisers on a Tyson show. Dorfman said if it is eventually broadcast with Tyson, then beer, shoe and snack food companies might still be willing to spend advertising dollars.
"If something crazy happened, they could just react by saying, 'Whoops, that's Mike!' and go on their way," Dorfman said.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.