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McEnroe says he can be serious

1/15/2004

LOS ANGELES -- Former tennis great John McEnroe -- who's done
his share of shouting in the past -- will join the world of
television talk this spring with a prime-time topical show on CNBC.
The network said Wednesday McEnroe's show will air at 10 p.m.
EST, directly after comedian Dennis Miller's talk show, which
premieres later this month.


"I never expected to be on CNBC," McEnroe told ESPN.com. "But they've shifted a little bit with Dennis
and I. It's not like they're expecting me to talk about Cisco."

The combative McEnroe, known for his on-court temper tantrums
during his playing days, has proven to be an adept broadcaster with
wide-ranging interests, said Pamela Thomas-Graham, CNBC president.
"He's a rebel in many ways," she said. "I think that's fun
for our viewers. A lot of our viewers are entrepreneurs and they
like that rebellious attitude in him."
McEnroe will keep all of his broadcast commitments as a tennis
commentator, and CNBC may telecast his shows on location from the
sites of tennis tournaments to accommodate him, she said.
The former tennis star has tried his hand at other television
ventures, notably as host of a short-lived ABC game show, "The
Chair," in 2002.
"It's something that I've hoped for for a long time -- to do my
own thing and do something different from the world of tennis,"
McEnroe said.
No word yet on whether any of his guests will be shouted down
with his famous retort to a referee, "You cannot be serious!" (It
was also the title of his autobiography.)


But McEnroe told ESPN.com that his analysis on tennis broadcasts have proven to tennis fans over the years that he can be taken seriously.

"We'll have some fun, but we'll be serious when it's time to be serious. I'm not going to be making jokes about health care."

Struggling CNBC, whose fortunes as a network nose-dived about
the same time as the stock market, is trying to revive its prime
time. CNBC runs business-oriented programming during the day but
seeks a wider audience at night.
It hasn't had a signature nighttime program since Geraldo Rivera
left for Fox News Channel in 2001.
Thomas-Graham said she wanted a prime-time lineup that would be
"more fun" and "unpredictable."
CNBC's one-hour general newscast, with John Siegenthaler
replacing Brian Williams, will air at 8 p.m. EST, followed by
Miller and McEnroe. Current prime-time shows, "The Capital
Report" and "Kudlow & Cramer," will be shown earlier in the day.

ESPN.com sports business writer Darren Rovell contributed to this report.