Incisive Myers could give 'Up Close' a cutting edge


Chris Myers didn't have to be asked twice when the poobahs at ESPN gave him the chance to take over the nightly "Up Close" interview show from Roy Firestone. It just seemed like the logical thing to do.

"I've always wanted to do a sports-talk interview show. I've always been a fanatic of talk shows. I was such a big fan of Johnny Carson growing up and I used to listen to Larry King when my family lived in South Florida. I just didn't think a show like this would become available," said Myers.

When Firestone expressed an interest in spreading his wings to other ventures, Myers was introduced to his big break, and debuted from Miami last week with five shows from the Super Bowl.

"I like the challenge. I'm a goal-setter and I see this as a huge challenge," said Myers, who worked in New Orleans and Miami before coming to ESPN in 1988 as a West Coast-based reporter.

As it did with Firestone, the show originates from Los Angeles, but it has moved from 12:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., just before "SportsCenter."

"Up Close" likely will take a harder edge with Myers, who won a 1990 sports Emmy for a story on former Montreal Expos pitcher Tim Burke and his efforts to adopt a Guatemalan child.

"The show will be live as often as possible, and I think we'll have more of a 'Nightline' or Larry King approach. You'll get a special kind of interview," said Myers. "I'd like to get [Dallas Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones and [former Dallas coach] Jimmy Johnson together, if they're inclined. I know that sounds far-fetched, but that's the kind of show I'd like to do."

Myers probably doesn't have that kind of pull, but even if he can't bring Dumb and Dumber together, he's already contributed mightily to the "SportsCenter" lexicon.

For instance, it was Myers who came up with the phrase "You, you're not good" when a batter whiffed at a third strike, or "three ball from the side pocket" when describing a basketball trey from the left or right wing.

And did you know that Myers is responsible for that "Did You Know?" thing at the end of the overnight/early morning "SportsCenter"? Well, he is, and only because he does a really good Johnny Carson imitation.

"Yeah," he laughs. "I would be doing 'SportsCenter' and a partner would say something interesting and I'd just do Carson saying, 'I did not know that.' So, they started this 'Did You Know?' thing from that," said Myers. "I'll miss the highlights. That's really fun, but I think this will be a lot of fun, too."

Terps on the tube

It might not show up in your TV listings for next week, but Tuesday's North Carolina-Maryland dustup from College Park will indeed air on Channel 54 at 9 p.m.

The station and Raycom/Jefferson Pilot, the Atlantic Coast Conference's syndicator, finished negotiations Tuesday night to get the game on in this market, the third-largest in the ACC.

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