Bill Simmons' Show 'Any Given Wednesday' Canceled: Latest Comments, Reaction

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2016

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 14: ESPN TV Personality Bill Simmons Coach of the West Team reacts to a play against the East Team during the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game 2014 at Sprint Arena during the 2014 NBA All-Star Jam Session at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on February 14, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Any Given Wednesday, the talk show starring former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, is ending its run on HBO after less than five months. The final episode is scheduled to air Friday, Nov. 9.

Neil Best of Newsday first reported word of the cancellation. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated confirmed the news and the show's last air date.

Simmons, who endured a highly publicized and sometimes heated exit from ESPN last year, is taking a more subdued approach this time around. He said in a statement he'll take the blame for the show's inability to attract and maintain viewership.

"We loved making that show, but unfortunately it never resonated with audiences like we hoped," he said. "And that's on me."

It's a stark contrast from the consistent verbal shots he took at ESPN after the company announced in May 2015 it wasn't going to renew his contract.

He debuted The Bill Simmons Podcast five months later and quickly voiced his displeasure with his former employer. Specifically, the longtime Boston sports fan was incredulous about how the network handled the Deflategate drama involving New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

"Granted, I'm a little biased here," Simmons said, per Tom Kludt of CNN Money. "The way everyone else was covering Roger Goodell in this whole story versus the way ESPN covered it, it was embarrassing. I couldn't believe nobody called out ESPN about it."

Then, this past June, he spoke with Lacey Rose of the Hollywood Reporter about his view of ESPN's decision to part with some of its most outspoken commentators, including Keith Olbermann and Jason Whitlock.

"They've now gotten rid of everybody who is a little off the beaten path," Simmons said. "Ask yourself this: 'Who would work there that you respect right now?'"

Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless, who are both seasoned debate-style sports personalities, are also on the list of departures from ESPN over the past few years.

Simmons had no trouble booking high-profile guests for the HBO show, which he worked on while also founding The Ringer, a website similar to Grantland from his ESPN days. Guests ranged from sports stars like Kevin Durant and Wayne Gretzky to Hollywood types such as Seth Rogen and Christina Hendricks.

The show's lasting legacy will likely be the very first guest, Ben Affleck, and his expletive-filled rant about Deflategate (warning: NFSW language):

While Simmons' efforts to attract more mainstream attention were unsuccessful, HBO Sports executive vice president Peter Nelson stated the network is planning to work with him on other projects despite the Any Given Wednesday decision:

HBO is committed to Bill Simmons, and we are excited to bring his unique vision to bear on an array of new programming initiatives under the HBO Sports banner in 2017. Bill is an award-winning executive producer in the documentary arena, and we will work closely with him in developing new and engaging content for our subscribers.

Although Simmons established himself as a premier columnist with a unique blend of sports and pop culture, that hasn't translated well during his various on-camera TV assignments over the years.

         

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