The Popcorn Stand: Guillaume gave Sports Night class
Robert Guillaume died earlier this week at the age of 89. He portrayed one of my favorite characters in television on the program “Sports Night.” In the program, Guillaume portrayed Isaac Jaffe, the top boss of a nightly sports news show aptly named after the title of the program, “Sports Night.”
Sports Night had a short run, airing on ABC from 1998-2000. The Aaron Sorkin show was ahead of its time. Think another one of Sorkin’s shows, HBO’s “The Newsroom.” “Sports Night” was basically the sports equivalent of that show. If Sports Night was an HBO now, there’s no question in my mind it would be a hit.
I have to admit one of the main reasons why I liked “Sports Night” so much is it was the first show that would take not so veiled shots at ESPN. (There, my cheap shot at ESPN).
One of my favorite scenes came in one episode in which one of the sports anchors on the show said nobody understands the value of a healthy hunch to which Isaac replied, “Our lawyers understand the value of a healthy hunch, it’s $400 an hour plus court costs.”
My all-time favorite “Sports Night” episode came when “Sports Night” was covering a big boxing match, a huge moment for the fledgling nightly sports show. The fight lasted a grand total of eight seconds and was so short the napping Isaac missed the bout.
But the most memorable character in the episode was “The Cutman,” who filled in for “Sports Night’s” regular boxing analyst, who was unavailable. Of course he would only answer to “Cutman.”
There were many other brilliant performances by Guillaume on the show. Here’s to Guillaume and here’s to “Sports Night.”
— Charles Whisnand