Soledad O’Brien Joins HBO’s ‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’

By Alex Weprin 

Former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien is joining the team at HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” HBO Sports says.

In addition, HBO has signed a “first look” deal with O’Brien’s production company Starfish Media Group, giving it the first crack at scripted projects and “long form programming concepts” that they develop.

O’Brien has a similar first look deal with CNN for doc series, such as the “In America” series. The deal with HBO actually keeps O’Brien in the Turner Broadcasting family, as HBO and CNN are sister networks under the Turner Broadcasting umbrella, which is owned by Time Warner. HBO docs and series are occasionally replayed on CNN.

“Soledad is a perfect fit for ‘Real Sports,’” said HBO Sports president Ken Hershman in a statement. “She’s an extraordinary interviewer and storyteller, and we’re thrilled to be able to add her to a franchise where the emphasis is on finding and presenting thought-provoking stories in the diverse and ever-fascinating world of sports.”

More information after the jump.


NEW YORK, June 12, 2013 – Renowned broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien, who has been honored with the Peabody, Emmy® and duPont Awards for enterprising reporting during her accomplished television career, will join the team of HBO’s critically acclaimed magazine program REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL, it was announced today by Ken Hershman, president, HBO Sports.

“Soledad is a perfect fit for REAL SPORTS,” said Hershman. “She’s an extraordinary interviewer and storyteller, and we’re thrilled to be able to add her to a franchise where the emphasis is on finding and presenting thought-provoking stories in the diverse and ever-fascinating world of sports.”

In addition to joining REAL SPORTS, O’Brien and her production company, Starfish Media Group, will have an overall relationship with HBO granting the network first look at scripted projects and long-form programming concepts that she and her team develop.

O’Brien has reported on breaking news from around the globe, making her one of the most recognizable names in journalism. In 2011, she won an Emmy® in the category of Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story Long Form for “Crisis in Haiti.” O’Brien was part of the coverage teams that earned CNN a George Foster Peabody award for its coverage of the BP oil spill and Hurricane Katrina, and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for its coverage of the Southeast Asia tsunami. The National Association of Black Journalists named O’Brien Journalist of the Year and the Edward R. Murrow Awards lauded her with the RTDNA/UNITY award in 2010 for “Latino in America.”

O’Brien has been integral in developing and hosting the award-winning “Black in America” franchise, one of CNN’s most successful international franchises. In 2010, she wrote the critically acclaimed memoir “The Next Big Story: My Journey through the Land of Possibilities,” which chronicles her biggest reporting moments and how her upbringing and background have influenced these experiences. She is a graduate of Harvard University and will serve as a visiting fellow for the 2013-14 school year at the university’s Graduate School of Education. She is also a member of the board of directors for the Foundation for the National Archives.

“Soledad’s a respected journalist with a proven track record,” says Bryant Gumbel, host of REAL SPORTS. “Her credibility, broad interests and passion make her a wonderful addition to our program. I’m thrilled to have her on our REAL SPORTS team.”

O’Brien says of the new partnership: “HBO is undeniably a leader in meaningful storytelling in a wide array of formats. I’m honored to join the REAL SPORTS team and look forward to continuing my fervor for uncovering unique and impactful stories.”

In the course of 194 editions, REAL SPORTS has earned its reputation as sports television’s gold standard of sports journalism. The monthly series has won 25 Sports Emmy® Awards since its debut in April 1995. At the 34th annual Sports Emmys presentation on May 7, REAL SPORTS was recognized with two awards, including the trophy for Outstanding Edited Sports Series/Anthology. The show has been honored with the Sports Emmy® for Outstanding Sports Journalism 15 times, and is the only TV sports program to receive a duPont Award (winning in 2006 and 2012). On May 20, REAL SPORTS was the only sports program honored among the 39 recipients of the 2012 George F. Peabody Awards from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication for outstanding electronic media coverage.

Follow REAL SPORTS updates on Facebook at or join the conversation on Twitter using #RealSports.

Rick Bernstein is the executive producer of REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL; Joe Perskie is senior producer.