Bill Simmons Is Ready for His HBO Close-Up

Any Given Wednesday debuts June 22.

THRBillSimmonsCoverThere are a number of standout quotes in this week’s cover story by Lacey Rose for our sister publication The Hollywood Reporter.

Looking back at the way ESPN handled things this time last spring, Bill Simmons suggests that “you would think I played grab-ass with some makeup assistant or something.” Then there’s this astute framing of Simmons’ weekly half-hour HBO talk show Any Given Wednesday, which premieres June 22, by former network programming president Michael Lombardo, who remains involved with the Simmons program:

“We have a lot more latitude than ESPN has in what’s too provocative, and we present ourselves differently in that we’re point-of-view television. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it,” he says, noting that Simmons wouldn’t be the first firebrand on HBO’s payroll. “We’ve had 13 years of Bill Maher,” Lombardo adds with a laugh. “Trust me, we have gotten plenty of letters over the years.”

According to two sources who spoke to Rose, HBO is paying Simmons between $7 million and $9 million a year. That’s a sizable increase from the $5 million he was making at ESPN and, ultimately, the best way in Hollywood to run into old foes.

Simmons tells Rose the HBO program will be “conversations about sports, culture and technology, and then me being a snarky asshole.” Although some in the sports media believe the former Grantland boss does not have what it takes to become a bonafide TV personality, the 46-year-old Simmons tells THR that kind of criticism only motivates him more.

Much later in the piece, Simmons reflects honestly on his 14 years at ESPN: “”I’m not blameless. I acted like a brat a couple times, and there are things I could have handled better.”

Read the rest here.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Bill Simmons Takes Issue With Variety Mention