Usually easygoing Myers puts Simpson under careful scrutiny

Media Watch

January 16, 1998|By MILTON KENT

If O. J. Simpson accepted the invitation to appear on ESPN's "Up Close" last night thinking that he was going to get a free pass and wasn't going to be seriously challenged by host Chris Myers, he was sadly mistaken.

In some of the most riveting television you're likely ever to see -- especially in a commercial-free 18-minute opening segment -- Myers interrogated, prodded and probed a clearly agitated Simpson with questions that many Americans have wanted to ask since his former wife, Nicole, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found slain at her home in June 1994.

Myers didn't directly ask Simpson if he killed the pair, but he deftly maneuvered around the subject of their deaths by asking at least three times if he was responsible for their deaths, or had acted out in a rage and then forgotten what had happened. Simpson denied responsibility on all fronts.

Myers, who never lost his cool, put Simpson under the microscope, asking about his efforts to find the people he believes to be responsible for the deaths, then asking why so many people believe that he, Simpson, was in fact the killer.

"That's their problem. That's not my problem," said Simpson, who was alternately lucid and ranting during the 50-minute interview.

Myers alluded to letters of protests received by ESPN regarding Simpson's appearance on the show. Maybe those folks thought Simpson was going to be coddled and asked about golf tips, given Myers' generally easygoing manner.

But even Simpson's loudest detractors would have to admit that Myers was anything but easy. In the biggest moment in his career, Chris Myers did himself, his network and his profession quite proud.

Ice, ice baby

Sports of a distinctly winter flavor, conventional and bizarre, are the centerpiece of this weekend's menu.

Now that snowboarding has become a medal sport in the Winter Olympics, maybe we shouldn't think of those "Winter X Games" as being so, well, weird.

All right, maybe we should. At any rate, the second annual collection of winter alternative sports competitions in "disciplines" like ice climbing, snow mountain bike racing, snowmobile snowcross, free skiing and skiboarding will take place this weekend in Colorado, beginning with tonight's show on ESPN at 8: 30.

ABC (Channel 2) picks up the fun tomorrow at 3: 30 p.m., with ESPN2 airing programs at 4: 30 and 8: 30 tomorrow night. Sunday's schedule starts on ESPN at 8 p.m. and shifts to ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ESPN will air two hours of coverage on Monday at 4: 30, with ESPN2 picking up activities at 8: 30 p.m.

Meanwhile, hockey pauses for its All-Star Weekend, which kicks off Fox's NHL schedule. Sunday's 48th All-Star Game, pitting North American-born players against the best European players, airs at 4 p.m. from Vancouver, British Columbia, on Channel 45.

Ever the technological wizards, Fox officials plan to plant a miniature camera on the helmet of a linesman, as well as put microphones on some coaches, officials and maybe some players, and bring back that computerized, glowing puck.

Not to be outdone, ESPN will put a camera on the mask of Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek when he competes in the skills contest, a part of All-Star tomorrow at 9 p.m.

Around the dial

Former Channel 13 sports guy Nick Charles is host of a new series, "Page One," on CNN, starting tomorrow at 11 a.m. Among the topics on the debut show is an examination of why the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis heavyweight unification fight fell through, with live appearances from the two pugilists.

The 15th annual "All-Madden Team" is unveiled Sunday (Channel 45, 3 p.m.) with John Madden and Pat Summerall doing the honors to give NFL fans their fix in the week before the Super Bowl.

ESPN kicks off a five-part series reviewing the 50-year history of NASCAR with a one-hour program tonight at 7: 30, and CBS (Channel 13) reviews the 1997 season and looks ahead to next month's Daytona 500 with a one-hour show at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

On the hoops front, the NBA's Sunday Game of the Week series resumes on NBC (Channel 11) with a doubleheader, commencing at noon with Boston playing host to Indiana, marking Pacers coach Larry Bird's first visit to Beantown as coach, followed by the constitutionally mandated appearance of the Chicago Bulls, as they play host to Houston.

By the way, WJFK (1300 AM) has picked up the local rights to ESPN Radio's coverage of the NBA, which begins with the Bulls-Rockets game Sunday and runs through the championship series in June.

CBS has a college twin bill tomorrow, kicking off with Georgetown-Connecticut at 2 p.m., followed by a juicy Pac-10 matchup with Stanford playing host to UCLA. On Sunday, CBS shows a tripleheader, starting with Purdue-Indiana at noon, with Villanova host to West Virginia in the second game and New Mexico meeting Arizona in the finale.

Finally, former Connecticut star Rebecca Lobo will analyze Sunday's Maryland-North Carolina women's game from College Park at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. And on Monday, ESPN will carry what shapes up to be a terrific contest, as third-ranked Connecticut is host to No. 2 Old Dominion at 2: 30 p.m.

Pub Date: 1/16/98

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