Gifford, Meredith join ABC's final Monday gridcast

Discussion in 'History Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    By: Paul J. Gough
    Wed Dec 21, 2005 5:56 AM ET

    NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - "Dandy" Don Meredith and Frank Gifford will return to ABC a final time Monday to bid farewell to "Monday Night Football" in its last game on the broadcast network.

    Neither Meredith nor Gifford, who were part of a three-man broadcasting team with the late Howard Cosell, will appear live when the New York Jets play host to the New England Patriots at 9 p.m. ET Monday. They will appear in taped segments that will air at the opening of the game.

    Gifford, the former New York Giants star who appeared on "Monday Night Football" from 1971-97, appeared in a retrospective on the show's 500th program. But Meredith -- part of the original on-air team with Cosell and Keith Jackson -- has continually declined to come out of retirement.

    "Don Meredith hasn't been seen much" on TV since he left "Monday Night Football" at the end of the 1984 season, said Norby Williamson, executive vp studio and remote production at ESPN/ABC Sports.

    It was Gifford, who remains friends with the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, who urged Meredith to appear one last time, said Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of "Monday Night Football." Meredith wasn't able to attend the game because of family commitments in New Mexico, but he agreed to tape a segment, Gaudelli said.

    ABC won't present a stand-alone tribute to "MNF" before its last game after 36 years on the network. Instead, the broadcast will present favorite moments from its storied history.

    "Within the game, there are going to be moments, we're going to have vignettes," Williamson said. The halftime show also will feature some noted "Are You Ready for Some Football?" moments from the past.

    Williamson and ESPN/ABC Sports executive vp content John Skipper also spoke about the future of "MNF," which will move to ESPN beginning next season. Skipper said that the aggregate audience for "MNF" across ESPN's many platforms -- from the Sunday night "SportsCenter" to the "NFL Countdown" show as well as ESPN Radio and elsewhere -- will be larger than it is for this year.

    "We don't think of it as a simple three-hour window rating to a three-hour window rating comparison," Skipper said. He said that ESPN's research has shown that 90% of the people who watch "MNF" now will be able to watch it next year on ESPN "without any changes to their television set."

    There will be overall changes on ESPN, however. While the signature music will remain the same, ESPN will unveil during the Super Bowl a new on-air look for "MNF." And only Al Michaels will remain of the two-man booth; John Madden will move to NBC to become an analyst for "Sunday Night Football."

    Skipper bristled at NBC's efforts to make the Sunday night game -- which now is the third of three windows on Sunday that start at 1 p.m. ET -- the premier game of the week.

    "The last time I checked, we're still on the Roman calendar," Skipper said of Monday night, evidently unaware that the calendar went out of use more than 2,000 years ago.

    "Monday night is the only night that still has the exclusive window. ... We think that will resonate more with fans," he said.
  2. Maikeru-sama

    Maikeru-sama Mick Green 58

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    Man, it is still weird that you are going to have to have cable or satellite to see MNF now.

    Thank God for Cable Splitters....
  3. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    Meredith to help turn out the lights for ABC's 'MNF' finale

    Where have you gone, Dandy Don Meredith? TV's original good old boy sportscaster has been missing in action since leaving the booth of ABC's Monday Night Football in 1984. Now Meredith is coming out of retirement to help give 36-year-old MNF a Viking funeral during ABC's final telecast of the series Monday.
    Meredith, 67, was one of the original trio, along with Keith Jackson and the late Howard Cosell, who called the first MNF game in 1970. His chemistry with Cosell and Frank Gifford, who replaced Jackson a year later, helped turn MNF into a pop culture sensation and TV institution.

    During Monday's telecast of the New England Patriots-New York Jets game, Meredith will appear with Gifford and current play-by-play man Al Michaels in a taped, two-minute opening segment. Then Meredith will close the show with another rendition of The Party's Over, the song he used to belt out in the booth during blowout games, to Cosell's irritation.

    The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback spent 13 seasons (1970 to '74; 1977 to '84) in the MNF booth. But he has kept a low profile since.

    His longtime pal Gifford talked him into returning to the limelight, according to George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports, who will shepherd the move of MNF to ESPN in 2006.

    "It shows you the weight this property has," says Bodenheimer, although ABC had to send a crew to Meredith's home in Santa Fe to tape his parts for the finale because Meredith had family commitments. (Gifford's part was taped in Los Angeles.)

    Fred Gaudelli, producer of MNF the last five seasons, says Meredith "closed that chapter on his life." But Dandy Don is as outspoken as ever, according to Gaudelli. "He said, 'Freddy, if I was doing a game where a team was losing 35-0 ... and a running back started dancing after making a 3-yard gain, I'd say get your a— back to the huddle and hug an offensive lineman.' "

    Meredith declined through an ABC spokesman to be interviewed.

    ABC's final MNF game also will feature:

    • Famous faces who popped into the MNF booth such as Ronald Reagan and John Lennon.

    • A salute to ABC's Roone Arledge and former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.

    • Clips from the greatest games, including the Miami Dolphins' defeat of the Chicago Bears in 1985, the highest-rated MNF telecast ever with a 29.6 rating.

    MNF is the second longest-running program in prime time behind CBS' 60 Minutes. While still a top-10 show, its ratings continue to slide. Monday's telecast of the Baltimore Ravens' 48-3 rout of the Green Bay Packers generated an 8.2 rating, the lowest this season and the second-lowest ever. (Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. St. Louis Rams last season posted the lowest, a 7.7.) This season, MNF is averaging an overall 10.9 rating, down 1% from an 11.0 last season.

    It remains to be seen whether the finale, a matchup of the playoff-bound Patriots vs. the eliminated Jets, will attract enough viewers to send MNF off on a ratings high note. Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are this season's ratings darlings, drawing the two biggest numbers (a 14.8 for their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 28 and a 14.3 for their game against New England on Nov. 7).

    In a bitter pill for ABC, rival NBC was able to land the kind of late-season flexible scheduling for its Sunday night NFL package next season that the network had sought to avoid turkeys such as Monday's contest between two losing teams.

    As Willie Nelson sings in The Party's Over: "Turn out the lights, the party's over, they say all good things must end. Call it tonight, the party's over. And tomorrow starts the same old thing again."

    Dying inside: The networks did a great job of catching the agony and ecstasy of NFL coaches as the last few days, as they alternately screamed, stormed and sulked their way through games.

    ABC had a great close-up Monday night of Green Bay coach Mike Sherman's 1,000-yard stare as his team absorbed its worst beating since losing 61-7 to the Bears in 1980. "His team is not putting up much of a fight," said ABC's John Madden.
  4. Skip

    Skip Member

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    Great, it has never been the same since Don Meredith and Howard Cosell left. Boy how I loved to watch MNF back then.
  5. hardcorebob

    hardcorebob Through thick and thin

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    WOW! This is going to be like going back in a time machine to see the good ol days of MNF. I remember watching the original trio back in the 70's-80's with my dad and we've already planned to watch this game to reminice. Too damn cool!
  6. DezBRomo9

    DezBRomo9 Not enough blitzing..

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    Sorry before my time ;) but where is Madden going to commentate? Is he going with ABC to Sunday nite or is staying on Monday nites with ESPN?
  7. Bach

    Bach Benched

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    It says " John Madden will move to NBC to become an analyst for "Sunday Night Football."
  8. Aikmaniac

    Aikmaniac Well-Known Member

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    This'll be pretty cool.

    I never got the chance to see or listen to Dandy Don on MNF. I had to suffer and grow up with OJ, Dierdork, Dennis Miller, Dan Fouts (who was ok IMO), etc.

    I wonder why Meredith has been MIA, though?

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