Pardon the Interruption (abbreviated PTI) is a sports TV show that airs weekdays on various ESPN TV channels, TSN, ESPN America, XM & Sirius satellite radio services & as a downloadable podcast. It's hosted by Tony Kornheiser & Michael Wilbon, who discuss & frequently argue over, the top stories of the day in "sports... and other stuff" (as Kornheiser put it in the show's original promo). They had previously done this off-air in The Washington Post newsroom. Either Tony Reali (host of ESPN's Around the Horn) or the uncredited "producer over the loudspeaker" serves as moderator for parts of the show, which is filmed in Washington, D.C.; Around The Horn also originates from the same studio.

Similar in format to old Siskel and Ebert, PTI is known for it's humorous & often loud tone, as well as the "rundown" graphic listing the topics yet to be discussed down the right-hand side of the screen. The show's popularity has led to the creation of similar shows on ESPN & similar segments on other series & the rundown graphic has since been implemented on the morning editions of SportsCenter that are repeated from the previous night's last live broadcast, among many imitators.

PTI debuted on October 22, 2001. The original deal was for 2 years with an option for a 3rd. It airs daily @ 5:30 PM ET on ESPN (if not preempted by live events such as golf) & is repeated on numerous ESPN sister outlets (see "Broadcast details" below). The show originally also aired Sunday evening, but this was short-lived.

PTI is produced by ESPN Original Entertainment. The show's launch team & daily production management is led by broadcast executive Todd Mason. PTI is sponsored by alcoholic beverage company Diageo, via it's brands Guinness, Red Stripe & Smirnoff Ice.

Broadcast detailsEdit

Pardon the Interruption airs live @ 5:30 PM ET on ESPN. The following outlets carry the show @ other times:

  • ESPN 2 airs the show @ 6:30 PM ET, with the TV picks, errors & "Happy time" removed.
  • WXTR, ESPN Radio affiliate for Washington, DC (where both Kornheiser & Wilbon are based), airs the entire show @ 7:05 PM ET & again @ 5:30 AM the next morning.
  • WMVP, ESPN Radio affiliate in Chicago (Wilbon's hometown) airs the show @ 7:05 PM CT.
  • The ESPN Radio network makes an edited version available to it's affiliates, with only a few segments @ 6:30 PM ET. An ESPN Radio SportsCenter update is inserted @ 6:40. (Previously ESPN Radio carried the show @ 7 PM ET)
  • TSN airs the show live @ 5:30 PM & cuts out before the SportsCenter segment, ending with Tony waving the Canadian flag & saying "goodnight, Canada". If pre-empted, the broadcast will air @ a later time.
  • Since April 17 2006, ESPN has also offered a free audio podcast which cuts out commercials & includes all segments.
  • ESPN America airs the show across Europe in a late night slot, usually @ 11:30 PM unless pre-empted by live sports coverage. It's also repeated during the following day @ 7:30 AM.

The setEdit

Pardon the Interruption is unique in it's studio layout, featuring a "wall" full of cut-out cardboard heads of athletes & celebrities that have previously been used in the "Role Play" segment, bobblehead dolls of the show's hosts & Reali, Etch-A-Sketch art of Kornheiser & Wilbon & several other toys & trinkets they have received, such as Kornheiser's beloved "Leg Lamp" from A Christmas Story & Elmo.

For different American holidays, the set will also be decorated with other props to match the theme of the day. For example, on Halloween, carved jack-o'-lanterns of the host's heads are also present. The color of the rundown graphic is also changed to mesh with the holiday theme (e.g. red, white & blue to represent Independence Day, green for St. Patrick's Day, red & green for Christmas).


PTI is divided into several segments. It's not unusual for the last point or topic in each section to be about a non-sports-related pop-culture event. On rare occasions, the show will stray from it's basic format, such as on August 9 2005, when MLB commissioner Bud Selig was the guest @ the very top of the show for an extended interview.

Other than the pop-culture topics, most topics discussed involve the The Big 4 of American team sports: baseball, basketball, football & hockey. Both hosts are avid fans of volleyball, tennis, golf & boxing & discuss events in those sports frequently. However, other sports such as soccer, mixed martial arts & auto racing receive much less coverage & the hosts do little to hide their lack of interest or knowledge on those topics.

Segments included in the vast majority of shows are:

Segment 1: Introduction/HeadlinesEdit

Kornheiser & Wilbon welcome viewers to the show with opening banter. Wilbon usually opens the show with the line, "Pardon the Interruption... but I'm Mike Wilbon". Wilbon will then put a question to Kornheiser concerning 1 of the day's sports or pop culture issues (which he answers sarcastically). The 2 will then continue a conversation while the opening title card is shown. The theme song (as well as the commercial outro music) thematically references the song "Cut Your Hair" by Pavement.

Kornheiser then says "Welcome to the 'PTI' program, boys and girls" & the hosts usually debate 5 or 6 topics. Each issue is listed in chronological order on the right side of the screen & a countdown timer is shown indicating how much time is allotted to discuss a particular issue. Most topics are less than 1:30, but major news stories can run 2 or 3 minutes. If there is no guest for "Five Good Minutes", 3 or 4 additional headlines will run during the second segment.

Segment 2: Five Good MinutesEdit

Kornheiser & Wilbon interview a sports figure, writer or analyst typically for a period of time from 3-5 & a 1/2 minutes. The interview itself is actually recorded prior to the rest of the show & then trimmed down for broadcast. According to PTI's remote producer, with some exceptions, guests are booked the day of the show as they try to obtain the most relevant news of the day. Other times, there are 2 "Five Good Minutes" segments with 2 different guests; there are also shows where 2 related guests appear during 1 segment, such as Joe Buck & Tim McCarver of MLB on FOX broadcasts. There have also been occasions where Kornheiser or Wilbon, while on vacation or in another city to cover an event & not hosting the show, have been the subject of "Five Good Minutes" themselves.

Guests almost always appear from a separate location, usually the site of an upcoming game or their home city, appearing with the hosts via split screen. On a few occasions, the guest has appeared in studio with Kornheiser & Wilbon. This may be the case if the guest is an athlete or coach in Washington to play a game that night, such as when Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups appeared on February 6 2009, prior to the Nuggets' game with the Washington Wizards. When this happens, the guest will sit on Wilbon's side of the table, sitting diagonally from Kornheiser.

On Mondays during the football season, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, a former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback (a.k.a. "Jaws" & "the Polish Rifle" - the latter usually rendered in a Howard Cosell-like voice), is usually the guest, to offer analysis of the previous day's games & a prediction for the Monday Night Football game that night.

On rare occasions, "Five Good Minutes" runs long, such as on June 8, 2005 when NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus's interview ran 11 minutes, forcing the cancellation of the following segment (Role Play) & on March 23, 2007 when USC basketball coach Tim Floyd's interview ran 9 minutes as he talked about O. J. Mayo.

Segment 3 (various)Edit

After "Five Good Minutes", or after extended "Headlines" if there is no guest, PTI uses a variety of different segments to talk about other sports news & make predictions. These featured segments often end with a pop culture topic.

"Mail Time" & "Toss Up" are featured @ least once for every full week of episodes. During Mail Time (in which Wilbon provides the voice of the mailbox) the hosts read & respond to viewer e-mail that they take out of a talking mailbox. Early in PTI's run, an intern named Josh read the mail to the hosts. When the show changed over to the talking mailbox, Wilbon would express disgust @ the mail voice, demanding it be omitted. The mail read on air is no longer written by viewers, but rather staff of the show itself. For Toss Up, the 2 hosts choose between 2 sides of a topic announced by the producer, Erik Rydholm, over the loudspeaker & Kornheiser always claims to be the winner.

Other frequently used segments are "Odds Makers" & "Role Play". Odds Makers is featured weekly & involves the hosts giving their prediction in the form of a percentage about the likeliness of a future event occurring. Reali gives the topics & keeps track of responses on a chalkboard, to which he refers @ the end of the segment in order to declare a winner. A selection @ either extreme of 100% or 0% is well-respected, with the latter being coined by Reali as "squadoosh". Role Play, featured in almost every week but less so than earlier in PTI's run, is referred to as "Heads on Sticks" because the hosts alternate speaking as a sports figure with the person's picture on a stick in front of their faces. After a picture is used, it's usually stuck somewhere in the background of the set until it's replaced. Recently, the sexual nature of the title of this segment has been noticed, as a suggestive musical cue leads the segment as well as Kornheiser telling Wilbon on the 1st Role Play "Wilbon will give, I will receive".

"Psychic Hotline" & "Good Cop, Bad Cop" are segments where the hosts take on different roles to discuss the given topics. The set is decorated with candles & a plasma lamp for Psychic Hotline, the latter of which a host will touch to hear the question in the form of a pre-recorded phone call. The question asks the hosts to predict what will happen in regards to an upcoming sporting event. Kornheiser wears a turban, in the style of Carnac the Magnificent, while Wilbon does not dress up @ all. In Good Cop, Bad Cop, however, both hosts dress in police hats & sometimes sunglasses. This segment is featured rarely & unlike Toss Up, the hosts must take an opposite stand on each topic, saying it's either good or bad. This segment is renamed Good Elf, Bad Elf" for the holiday.

"Over/Under" is a segment that alternated weeks with Odds Makers when they were first introduced, but is now featured only occasionally. The hosts argue over whether a certain sports figure or team will go over or under a certain number (e.g. 40 home runs, 60 wins). Reali also announces the topics for this segment, holding cards up with the statistic, as well. In order to help prevent a "push" (a Wilbon trademark), a decimal figure is sometimes used (e.g. 2.5 touchdowns). "Food Chain", where the hosts rank a top 5 list of teams, returned in December 2008 after a long absence. Kornheiser & Wilbon usually have variations in their lists, with Wilbon posting his as each team is introduced. Wilbon refers to his as "A real man's board!", but when Kornheiser switches to his, he claims, "That's it! That's the list!" A 3rd rare segment is "Fair or Foul". It was introduced on February 28, 2007 after the hosts began repeating the words "fair or foul" for a few episodes because of a viewer email including them earlier in the week. The hosts discuss a variety of topics & decide if each is fair or foul (acceptable or not). If a host believes a topic is "foul", he could threw a yellow football penalty flag &/or blow a whistle.

Additionally, during the early run of PTI, a "Doctors" segment was featured occasionally, in which the hosts had to choose which head to cut off & throw in the trash out of 2 that were stuck together. The hosts dressed up as doctors for this segment, using coats & assorted accessories. Finally, a "time-machine" game was played once in 2005 & never returned.

Another early segment was called "Love Em or Leave Em" where a female voice cooing "Ooo La-La!" was played before the hosts discussed an individual (whose head was on a stick) they were either "leaving" or "loving" & keeping on their side.

Segment 4: Happy Happy Time, et al.Edit

This segment usually starts with Kornheiser saying, "Let's get happy". The hosts send out a "Happy Birthday", a "Happy Anniversary" (generally something that happened on the same date in the past rather than an anniversary) & a "Happy Trails" (a departure of some sort, such as a firing, injury, retirement or death).

If time allows, Reali (nicknamed "Stat Boy") corrects any factual errors that Kornheiser & Wilbon may have made. Kornheiser & Wilbon give their recommendations for TV viewing for the night as the last discussion segment of the show before SportsCenter. Wilbon usually chooses a sporting event, while Kornheiser will often opt for pop-culture based programming; most notably, he is a huge fan of American Idol & former fan of 24, which he says jumped the shark in Season 6. He rarely states that he will watch a sporting event, saying that they are on past his bedtime.

This concludes the half-hour broadcast of the show, where Kornheiser bids farewell to Canadian viewers. The segment during SportsCenter is not shown in Canada, where the program airs on TSN, so when Wilbon makes the toss to Bristol, Connecticut, where ESPN's studios are located, Kornheiser usually says "Goodnight, Canada" while waving a small Canadian flag as Wilbon mentions the upcoming SportsCenter segment.

SportsCenter segmentEdit

On July 25 2005, the format of the show was altered to merge the final part of the show with the beginning of the 6 PM ET SportsCenter. After the opening segment of SportsCenter (normally 10–14 minutes), PTI returns to debate an additional sports-related topic, then end with The Big Finish where, for the final 60 seconds of the show, the hosts alternate making comments on several other stories, usually ending with Wilbon picking a winner in a sporting event later that night ("Who Ya Got?"). The segment (& show) ends with Kornheiser saying, "We're out of time, we'll try to do better the next time" & Wilbon saying "Same time tomorrow, you knuckleheads". Kornheiser will wave the show logo (on a stick) in front of his face & whisper "PTI!" similar to the closing graphic as the show signs off, something he started doing during a period where the graphic was replaced by Wilbon plugging SportsCenter. Prior to the institution of this segment, The Big Finish closed the show in the slot now used for TV picks; Wilbon & Kornheiser often had the additional debate as a part of SC, but it was not treated as a formal part of PTI.

For the re-air on ESPN2, the show moves straight to the post-SportsCenter topic after the 3rd commercial break, skipping segment 4. According to Nielsen ratings, PTI paired with Around the Horn combined to average more viewers than SportsCenter.

During football season, Monday editions of PTI air in the former (30-minute) format, with no TV picks or SportsCenter segment. Until midway through the 2008 season the show also took place at the Monday Night Football host stadium as Kornheiser was a part of the Monday broadcast team; after that Kornheiser hosted from an undisclosed location in the host city while Wilbon hosted from the PTI studios in Washington. With Kornheiser's departure from Monday Night Football it's unclear whether or not PTI will continue in this Monday format for the 2009 football season.

Commercial bumpersEdit

Beginning September 2, 2008 & for all shows except for those taped @ the site of a Monday Night Football game, inserts of Kornheiser & Wilbon's discussion air for 15–20 seconds as bumpers between the commercial breaks of the show. 1 can see the 2 hosts having their makeup fixed & discussing everything from whom 1 has recently met to inside jokes between the hosts.

Running gagsEdit

Main article: Running gags on Pardon the Interruption

The longevity & popularity of the show has led to numerous running jokes between Wilbon & Kornheiser that longtime viewers will recognize. Some of these include such gags as The Bald Brotherhood, (He's) Ya Boy, Beatdown!, Strugg-a-ling, The Yanks & the Sawks!, The Penguin Dance, Let Me Axe You Something,Uranus & The Trampoline Bear.

In addition, for the first 3½ years of the show, Kornheiser only hosted a few shows away from the studio, with Wilbon during the week of Super Bowl XXXVI. Meanwhile, Wilbon has hosted many shows @ the location of a sporting event he was attending. This has resulted in much teasing of Kornheiser by Wilbon, including Kornheiser's fear of flying. Finally, on March 27 2006, Kornheiser for the 1st time hosted the show away from the studio while Wilbon remained back @ the set, as Kornheiser was in Orlando, Florida, covering the NFL owners meetings. For the 1st time in November 2006, Kornheiser & Wilbon "chatted split-screen" from 2 different locations away from Washington, D.C.

Kornheiser & Wilbon in other mediaEdit

The short-lived CBS show Listen Up! was based on the life of Tony Kornheiser. In it, the main characters Tony Kleinman (Jason Alexander) & Bernie Widmer (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) co-hosted an off-beat sports show titled "Listen Up!" On the day "Listen Up!" debuted, Warner & Alexander appeared in character on PTI's intro.

Kornheiser & Wilbon appeared as themselves on PTI in the 2004 film Mr. 3000, including doing a Role Play segment with Kornheiser posing as Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) @ 1 point.

On February 8 2006, it was announced that Tony Kornheiser would join Mike Tirico & Joe Theismann in the broadcast booth during Monday Night Football beginning in the 2006 NFL season. Kornheiser has continued to host PTI & Wilbon joins him on the road as they broadcast PTI each Monday from the site of the MNF game & there has also been an extra PTI segment inserted during halftime of ESPN's Monday Night games (However in 2008, Wilbon has stayed in the DC studios on many Mondays). In the months leading up to the 2006 NFL season, Kornheiser would often offer self-deprecating comments on the PTI show, saying that he'd be horrible for the MNF job or that he wished that certain people that are topics on the show would ride the bus with him to the game, as he has an admitted fear of flying. On the April 6 2006, edition of PTI, the same day that the upcoming NFL season's schedule was released, Kornheiser gave a humorous insight into how he felt about his upcoming travel schedule, sarcastically commenting about how there weren't any East Coast games on the schedule. He also took the time to apologize to fans in Jacksonville, Florida, whose city Kornheiser described in his Washington Post column as having only Waffle Houses, since there was a Monday Night game in Jacksonville on September 18, the 2nd week of the NFL season. Kornheiser recently said on the show that if @ all possible, he would like to avoid traveling to the city of Seattle again since each time he has gone there, the weather has been atrocious (such as the downpour & wind that was constant in week 9 against Oakland & the snowstorm in week 12 against Green Bay).

PTI will be featured on future EA Sports video games due to the contract between ESPN & EA. The 1st game to have the feature is NBA Live 07 for the XBOX 360 & the Playstation 3.

Beginning in 2007, Wilbon appears weekly as an analyst for GMC NBA Countdown show Sundays on ABC.

Wilbon is a frequent guest on Washington, D.C. radio station WWWT's The Tony Kornheiser Show.

Guest hostsEdit

When 1 of the normal hosts is sick or on vacation, they have a guest host, usually another prominent sportswriter. Typically, Kornheiser & Wilbon almost never appear together during the summer months of July & August, as MLB is the only major sport in season & has barely gone past half season. The most frequently seen guest hosts are sportswriters Dan Le Batard of The Miami Herald, Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe & J.A. Adande, formerly of the Los Angeles Times. Other guest hosts seen less often are Jackie MacMullan & Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe, Jay Mariotti, formerly of the Chicago Sun-Times & Rick Reilly of ESPN.

Many other guest hosts were used in the past, including David Aldridge, Skip Bayless, Norman Chad, Josh Elliott, Max Kellerman, Patrick McEnroe, Michael Smith, Stephen A. Smith, Michele Tafoya & Mike Tirico of ESPN & sportswriters Jason Whitlock of The Kansas City Star, David Dupree & Jon Saraceno of USA Today. Kellerman stopped appearing on PTI when he started hosting Around the Horn. Whitlock was fired from & banned from appearing on ESPN after controversial remarks about some fellow ESPN employees.

Kornheiser was absent more than usual during Summer 2006 for medical reasons. During a phone interview on the August 15, 2006 edition of The Dan Patrick Show, Kornheiser explained this absence in most of July by revealing that he was recovering from skin cancer surgery.

Other versionsEdit

Starting in the 2006 NFL season, Kornheiser & Wilbon began hosting PTI from the stadium that was hosting the Monday Night Football game. The following season, they began staging a live 3-topic, 3-minute version of the show during halftime of the game.

In 2004, Crackerjack TV started producing an Australian version of the show, which airs weekly on the Australian ESPN channel & features former Australian Rules footballer Sam Kekovich. ESPN Australia also broadcasts the American version of PTI editions before SportsCenter

The ESPN Deportes show Cronómetro (Spanish for "stopwatch") is modeled after PTI & Sports Reporters, in that it features personalities talking about sports subjects for a set amount of time. Unlike PTI, there are 4 panelists instead of 2 & segments such as Role Play are not used. Five Good Minutes is used as a discussion of 1 subject between the 4 analysts. ESPN Brasil also has a version of Cronómetro called É Rapidinho (rough translation from Portuguese: "It's Fast").

NESN, in partnership with The Boston Globe, premiered Globe 10.0 in 2007, which airs @ 5:30 PM every Tuesday. Hosted by Globe columnist Bob Ryan & a rotating cast of other sports writers, the show has 10 topics that the 2 writers debate for 1 & a 1/2 minutes, in the same format as PTI (Ryan himself frequently fills-in on PTI on nights when Globe 10.0 doesn't air).

On March 25 2008, SportsNet New York premiered 2 new 1/2-hour shows, The Wheelhouse & Loud Mouths, which are similar to PTI & to each other, having 2 panelists debate sports topics. The Wheelhouse has a moderator & sports personalities as guests while Loud Mouths incorporates viewer calls & e-mails. These shows air every weekday @ 5:30 & 6 PM, respectively.

Prior to PTI, the Empire Sports Network had a similar show entitled Pros & Cons. Ed Kilgore (WGRZ sports director, generally portraying an optimist) & Art Wander (then a sports talk host for WGR, portraying the antagonist or pessimist view) were the primary combatants, with former The Buffalo News columnist Larry Felser also on the panel. The program lasted from 1992-1996.

External linksEdit

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