David Zurawik

NBC to air Michael Phelps special in prime time tonight

NBC will air a one-hour look at the career of Michael Phelps at 7 tonight, the network announced late Saturday night.

"Michael Phelps: America's Golden Champion" will feature what the NBC Sports is calling an "exclusive" interview by Bob Costas done with the Phelps at the end of his final day of competition Saturday.


"America's greatest interviewer sitting down with the world's greatest Olympic champion makes for an inspiring piece of television," NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell said in a statement announcing the prime-time special.

"Our feeling after seeing the interview was that this was something that every fan of the Olympics should see, and tonight they will."


According to NBC's statement on the special, "On the night of his final Olympic event, a night full of achievement and emotion, Phelps sat down with Costas shortly after leaving the pool."

The statement continues:

"Phelps and Costas discuss the tapestry of Phelps' career, including the first time of an international stage in Sydney; the trials and tribulations with coach and mentor Bob Bowman; his world famous 200-meter Butterfly race in Beijing where his goggles filled with water during the race; the training regimen that helped him win so many medals; how his rivalries fueled his passion and desire to win; the influence of watching Michael Jordan's dominance and how it shaped his career as one of America's greatest athletes ever; and Phelps future outside the pool."

Prime time runs from 8 to 11 p.m. six nights a week, but on Sundays it starts an hour earlier at 7 p.m., a time period usually owned by CBS with"60 Minutes."

NBC has not found any newsmagazine that can compete. But if anything can take the time period for the network it should be an off-the-news special like this.

The special will air on WBAL (Channel 11) in Baltimore.