The first excerpt from the highly-anticipated upcoming book about ESPN, Those Guys Have All the Fun, has been published in GQ. The excerpt focuses on former “SportsCenter” anchor Keith Olbermann, who comes across as a hard-to-work-with genius, with some major business-savvy.
I’ve never seen anybody do SportsCenter as well as Olbermann. Nobody. It hasn’t even been close.
I remember when Olbermann said to me, “Do you know how much this job is worth?” And I said no. He said, “It’s worth a million fucking dollars.” Keith looked at it as a businessman, saying, “Do you know what they’re making off of this?”
Based on the reported profits of the Today show and the salaries of its key figures, a fair ratio was to pay your talent a total figure of about 10 percent of their show’s profits. Working off numbers I had gotten from a sales guy in the N.Y.C. office, I calculated that the correct salaries for Dan and me were about $2,750,000 a year. And a year and a half later, Fox offered me a contract for something like $2,813,000 a year. The top salary paid to anybody doing SportsCenter had been whatever I was getting, which I think topped out around $310,000 a year.
I was enraged by Olbermann. Guys like that just piss me off, you know, because there’s no loyalty. It’s just me, me, me. There was no choice but to get rid of him.
Keith and authority don’t get along – ever. But he can also be one of the most loyal employees. Do not take a shot at Keith’s guys; he will protect them, always. But he was hard to manage – I mean hard! Keith is a dark guy. If you take everything Keith says at face value, you will find your reason for living diminished.