After 29 years and more than 300 episodes, I’m sorry to see “Real Sports” — the longest-running series on HBO and winner of 37 Sports Emmy Awards and three Peabodys — will wind down after the current season. I don’t know if the reason is that host Bryant Gumbel and executive producer Joe Perskie thought the series had run its course or if the budget was being squeezed too much by Warner/Discover CEO David Zaslav and his belt-tightening, debt-laden cronies.
I tend to believe it’s the latter, because there will always be compelling stories to tell and, except for ESPN’s “30 For 30,” no one else does it as well at “Real Sports.” On the other hand, if Gumbel wanted to walk away but Warner/Discover believed “Real Sports” had a future, the company could have simply named a new host.
Ironically, a Bloomberg report says Warner/Discover hopes to add live sports (baseball, hockey, basketball) to the roster of its streaming service Max. In that case, keeping a sports magazine show like “Real Sports” on the platform would make synergistic sense.
I didn’t always watch every minute of every episode, but when I did I appreciated the well-produced segments — some investigative, some profiles, some that led to actual policy changes — reported by a top-notch correspondents corps which included Mary Carillo, Bernard Goldberg, Jon Frankel, Andrea Kremer, Armen Keteyian, and Soledad O’Brien.
I’ll miss it.