Olbermann Angling for Return To ESPN

Olbermann Angling for Return To ESPN

Keith Olbermann was in Los Angeles on Friday being deposed for a reported $70 million lawsuit he filed against his most recent employer, Current TV, with the trial expected to begin in May. Whether the court rules in favor of Olbermann or the network, the verdict will put an official end to a one-year stint at Current that was supposed to last at least five.

But as one door closes, another has been quietly approached. At various times over the last year, Olbermann and his representatives have expressed interest in his return to the employer that made him famous: ESPN.

Olbermann’s expressions of interest included dinner at New York’s Four Seasons Restaurant with John Skipper, ESPN’s president.

“Keith Olbermann, both personally and through a couple people I know, reached out to say, ‘Gee, I would love to have dinner,’ ” Skipper said. “I agreed to dinner with Keith because I assumed he’d be provocative and witty and fun to have dinner with, and he was indeed lots of fun. We talked sports and politics, and we had a nice chat. He is very interesting.

“Clearly he was looking to see if there was an entry point to come back.”

Olbermann declined to discuss the details of the conversation.

“I had the privilege to spend some time with John Skipper,” he said. “His vision and charm were readily apparent, and judging by his leadership, his family name was prophetic.”

In the months since that dinner, Olbermann’s representatives have campaigned at ESPN for possible opportunities, according to a senior executive at the network and someone directly involved with Olbermann’s efforts. Both people asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the discussions.

Olbermann worked at ESPN from 1992 to 1997. A pivotal force in starting ESPN Radio, he became best known as one of the most prominent and popular anchors in the network’s history, co-hosting “SportsCenter” with Dan Patrick. Olbermann briefly left Patrick’s side to help start ESPN2 but soon returned to ESPN. There, he and Patrick reunited and continued hosting the 11 p.m. “SportsCenter” until his contract expired in 1997. Olbermann opted to leave sports altogether and signed on for a politically themed talk show on MSNBC.


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