Sports Night

Sports Night
Sports Night

Format Comedy-drama
Created by Aaron Sorkin
Starring Josh Charles
Peter Krause
Felicity Huffman
Joshua Malina
Sabrina Lloyd
Robert Guillaume
Composer(s) W.G. Snuffy Walden
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 45 (List of episodes)
Running time 22 Minutes
Original channel ABC
Original run September 22, 1998 – May 16, 2000

Sports Night is an American television series about a fictional sports news show also called Sports Night. It focuses on the friendships, pitfalls, and ethical issues the creative talent of the program face while trying to produce a good show under constant network pressure. Created by Aaron Sorkin, the half-hour prime time comedy-drama[1] aired on ABC for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000.

The show stars Robert Guillaume as managing editor Isaac Jaffe, Felicity Huffman as executive producer Dana Whitaker, Peter Krause as anchor Casey McCall, Josh Charles as anchor Dan Rydell, Sabrina Lloyd as senior associate producer Natalie Hurley, and Joshua Malina as associate producer Jeremy Goodwin. Regular guest stars included William H. Macy as ratings expert Sam Donovan and Brenda Strong as Sally Sasser, the producer of West Coast Update (another show on the same network as Sports Night) and rival of Dana. Other notable guest stars included Paula Marshall and more than one who appeared later on Sorkin's The West Wing including Janel Moloney, Teri Polo, Lisa Edelstein, Alanna Ubach, and Clark Gregg.



The fictional Sports Night is a sports news program in the style of ESPN's SportsCenter.[2] It broadcasts from the fictional Continental Sports Channel (CSC), a subsidiary of Continental Corp, owned and run by Luther Sachs. In an early season 2 episode, Dan mentions that their offices and studio are in Rockefeller Center (however, exterior shots show 345 Park Avenue). The show is said to be a semi-fictional account of the SportsCenter team of Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick, with Rydell representing Olbermann and McCall representing Patrick. Patrick has confirmed this on his syndicated radio program The Dan Patrick Show. It's also been said that many of the story lines for Casey McCall were inspired by Craig Kilborn, who was an anchor on SportsCenter during the late 90s.

Sports Night struggled to find an audience and ABC cancelled it after two seasons. Although it had the opportunity to move to several different networks, including HBO, Showtime and USA, Sorkin decided to let the show pass so that he could focus on his popular drama The West Wing[citation needed]

Although the first season of Sports Night is a sitcom, it often is portrayed as more of a comedy-drama representative of some of Sorkin's later work on The West Wing. Sorkin intended for the series' humor to be drier and more realistic than typical sitcoms. He initially wanted the show to be recorded without a laugh track, but ABC network executives insisted on including one.[3][4] The volume of the laugh track faded as Season One continued[5] and was abandoned at the beginning of Season Two.[6]

The dialogue is often delivered at a rapid-fire pace and intentionally exposes many aspects of communication that go beyond the words that are spoken. The show also frequently employed a technique known as "Walk and Talk", where the characters are walking from one location to the next while in conversation. This is another characteristic of Aaron Sorkin shows as "walk and talks" are used quite frequently in The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. A number of similar themes, elements and actors carried over from Sports Night to The West Wing (and later Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).[7][8][9]

The show's main focus is the relationships between the characters. These include an off-again on-again flirtation and romance between Dana and Casey, the partnership of Natalie and nerdy Jeremy, and Dan's ongoing problems with relationships in general. The character of Isaac Jaffe hovers over his staff as a benevolent but uncompromising father figure.

The show is mostly set in the studio and station offices. However, in the second season Anthony's, a local sports bar and restaurant, was introduced as another location for scenes in order to get the characters out of the work environment a little bit.

Guillaume suffered a stroke midway through the first season, and this event was worked into his character and the season's story arc.[1][5]


Supporting cast


In addition to numerous awards and nominations from various guilds, the show was nominated for eight Emmys and one Golden Globe. It won three Emmys:

  • Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series - "Cut Man" (2000), Janet Ashikaga
  • Outstanding Director for a Comedy Series - "Pilot" (1999), Thomas Schlamme
  • Outstanding Multi-Camera Editing for a Series - "Small Town", Janet Ashikaga

Additional airings

  • After its cancellation, the rerun rights to the show were briefly picked up by Comedy Central.
  • In 2004, ABC1, a British offshoot of ABC, began broadcasting Season 1 of Sports Night in the United Kingdom for the first time. The second season aired in January 2006.
  • It was also aired briefly in Latin America on Sony Entertainment Television. The Spanish version of this channel ran the show in Spain.
  • Australia's Channel 7 aired the show on late night television from 1999-2001 and was later repeated in the mornings in 2002.
  • Australia's Foxtel cable network aired Sports Night on The Comedy Channel in 2005.
  • The show was aired in Turkey on DiziMax in 2006.
  • The show aired in Italy on Raidue (from 2006 to 2008) and Rai4 (July 2009).
  • The show is now available through Netflix streaming service, as of early May, 2011.


Nielsen ratings

Season Episodes Premiere Finale Timeslot U.S. ratings Rank Network
1 1998–1999 23 September 22, 1998 May 4, 1999 Tuesday 9:30 PM ET 10.5 million #65 ABC
2 1999–2000 22 October 5, 1999 May 16, 2000 Tuesday 9:30 PM ET 11.5 million #49 ABC

DVD release

On November 5, 2002, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in Region 1 for the first time.

A special 10th Anniversary Edition Sports Night DVD set was released on September 30, 2008 from Shout! Factory with new bonus features including all-new interviews with creator Aaron Sorkin and cast & crew, featurettes and commentaries. Also included is a commemorative 36-page booklet.[10]

In March 2010, Shout! Factory released Sports Night: Season One on DVD.

DVD name Ep # Release date
Sports Night: The Complete Series – 10th Anniversary Edition 45 September 30, 2008
Sports Night: Season One 16 March 30, 2010

See also


  1. ^ a b Sherri Sylvester (2000-03-16). "Sorkin still writing on 'Sports Night,' 'West Wing'". CNN. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  2. ^ Jeff Merron (2002-11-12). "Keeping it real on 'Sports Night'". ESPN Page2. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  3. ^ Joe Flint (1998-09-25). "A Laugh Riot: The TV industry keeps pumping up the canned laughter, even on shows that genuinely earn their guffaws. But the cranked-up chuckles are making some sitcom creators gag". Entertainment Weekly (451).,,284963,00.html 
  4. ^ Rob Owen (1998-09-22). "'Sports Night' one of best players in season's starting lineup". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  5. ^ a b Sylvia Rubin (1999-10-05). "Malina Gets Into the Swing of `Sports Night': But critically acclaimed show may need a ratings boost to survive second season". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  6. ^ Mike Pinsky (2002-12-09). "Sports Night: The Complete Series". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  7. ^ Peter Vetsch. "Actors Overlap between Sports Night & West Wing". The West Wing Continuity Guide. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  8. ^ Peter Vetsch. "Miscellaneous Overlaps between Sports Night & West Wing". The West Wing Continuity Guide. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  9. ^ Peter Vetsch. "Episode Overlaps between Sports Night & West Wing". The West Wing Continuity Guide. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  10. ^ Home Media Magazine | 'Sports Night' Redux

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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