For former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien, HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” is something of a reunion. A former low level staffer at NBC News, O’Brien recalls producing segments with then “Today” anchor Gumbel.
“I was terrified,” O’Brien tells TVNewser. “[Gumbel] was one of the smartest and best interviewers in the business, and it was kind of an overwhelming prospect to be in his space.”
Now O’Brien will be on-air contributing to Gumbel’s HBO program, widely regarded as one of the best sports journalism programs on television. O’Brien will join a correspondent team that includes Mary Carillo, Bernard Goldberg and Andrea Kramer.
“I will do what I do, interviews, and to really tell stories, more about the human struggle to overcome something, to get through something,” O’Brien says of her “Real Sports” role. “It is longer form, but for me it is often under-told stories about the human condition.”
Her deal with HBO also includes a “first look” clause, giving the pay cabler first dibs on scripted programming and “long-form programming concepts” from O’Brien’s production company Starfish Media Group. HBO is known for taking real stories and turning them into dramatic films, most recently with the critically-acclaimed Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra,” and also for “Game Change.”