Running time 2 hours
First episode date 20 October 2003
Country of origin United States
Original network ESPN2 (2003–2007)
Final episode date 4 May 2007
Genres News, Sports
|Directed by Brian Hegner
Starring Jay Crawford Kit Hoover Thea Andrews Dana Jacobson Woody Paige Skip Bayless
Original release October 20, 2003 (2003-10-20) – May 4, 2007 (2007-05-04)
Similar 1st and 10, First Take, SportsCenter, Pardon the Interruption, Around the Horn
Cold Pizza was a television sports morning talk show that aired weekdays on ESPN2. The show's style was more akin to Good Morning America than SportsCenter's straight news and highlights format. It included daily sports news, interviews with sports journalists, athletes, and personalities, and an assortment of other sports and non-sports topics. This show began airing on October 20, 2003. The ESPN executive in charge of the program was James Cohen, who helped develop ESPN's popular talk show, Pardon the Interruption. The show was part of ESPN Original Entertainment overseen by ESPN programming chief Mark Shapiro The executive producer/creator was Brian Donlon and he was assisted by Consulting Producer Steve Friedman, who oversaw NBC's Today Show during some of its most innovative and highly rated periods. The program was produced at Atlantic Video which was overseen by Todd Mason.
- Broadcast history
- Pre emptions and cancellations
The original co-hosts were Jay Crawford and Kit Hoover with Thea Andrews serving as correspondent and Leslie Maxie as the news anchor. When it launched on Oct. 20, 2003 it started at 7 am ET, but moved to 8 am just short of its one-year anniversary in an attempt to get male viewers who may be awaking a little later. The show repeated at 10 am for the West Coast and often updated the show for the west coast feed.
Although Cold Pizza was simulcast on ESPN2HD, it was not produced or presented in high definition. On October 2, 2006, DirecTV became the presenting sponsor with the show titled as Cold Pizza presented by DirecTV.
In the fall of 2004, in an attempt to heighten the sports news content of the program, newspaper columnists Woody Paige and Skip Bayless were added in a series of segments called 1st & 10. Moderated by Crawford, the segment aired four times per show covering 10 topics (just like in football where teams have four downs to cover 10 yards for a first down). Paige and Bayless would debate, discuss and cajole each other on the sports headlines of the day. By December 2004, re-edited segments and new wraps were transformed into a new half-hour program using the same name which aired on ESPN at 3 pm ET.
In March 2005, change came in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Kit Hoover and Thea Andrews were replaced by SportsCenter anchor Dana Jacobson. At the same time, Brian Donlon left as executive producer of Cold Pizza and 1st & 10 and was replaced by SportsCenter veteran producer Mike McQuade. More change followed, on November 28, 2006, Paige left the program citing health and personal reasons, leaving New York to return to the Denver Post, where he had been a longtime writer. He was not the last Cold Pizza member to leave the New York City studio location. In May 2007, the entire program shifted production to ESPN's Bristol headquarters. The final edition of Cold Pizza aired on May 4, 2007. The following Monday, May 7, the show was replaced by a very similar program, ESPN First Take, which initially maintained many features of Cold Pizza, but instead produced in high definition at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.
Cold Pizza was notable for having its own version of ESPN's BottomLine, as their ticker not only gave sports scores, but also news headlines and weather forecasts from sports cities and is shown in its own color scheme. It also functioned differently: it constantly scrolled, while other ESPN "BottomLines" usually "flip" through the different scores, scrolling only for long statistical lines. This graphic was discontinued in the summer of 2006, when the "BottomLine" was changed to resemble those of other ESPN programs.
The program has gone on site for games and events quite often. On the road shows have included trips to Super Bowls XXXIX and XL and the Caesars Palace hotel and casino in Las Vegas. In 2004 the show had a regular series "Cold Pizza on Campus" where it went to colleges across the country big (such as Michigan State) and small (Mount Union College, a Division III football powerhouse. In an effort to save costs Friday's shows eventually originated from the College Gameday site. They went to New Orleans on September 25, 2006 for the re-opening of the Louisiana Superdome when the New Orleans Saints returned home to play the Atlanta Falcons.
The program also visited non-sports venues such as the Golden Globes and 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston and Republican Convention in New York (which was held at Madison Square Garden directly across from Cold Pizza's Manhattan studio). The show's coverage of the intersection of politics generated positive reviews and media attention for the program. Appearing on Capital Report on CNBC on July 21, Cold Pizza Executive Producer Brian Donlon said “We’re a sports network and what we try to do is sit in the middle of the intersection of sports and sports lifestyles. If you look at the list of speakers, the list of delegates, some of the events, some of the parties -– there’s a Yankees-Red Sox game that kicks off the Democratic National Convention. The intersection of sports and politics is rich with stories and we’re going to be there to cover each and every one of them.”
Guests on the show have included Senator John McCain, Senator John Edwards, Rep.Dick Gephardt, Hank Aaron, rock star Bob Seger, who also served as the show's NBA analyst during the 2004 NBA Finals which featured the rocker's hometown Detroit Pistons, Pete Rose, Dennis Rodman, José Canseco, Senator Tom Davis, Mike Krzyzewski, Nick Lachey and even the man that caught Barry Bonds' 715th home run ball.
On January 25, 2007 MediaWeek reported that ESPN would announce Cold Pizza's move from New York to the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut. In addition to being able to cut costs and produce the program in high definition, the new locale allowed more live appearances by ESPN analysts (as opposed to satellite or telephone interviews). However, the move reduced the amount of live appearances by celebrities and non-sports figures. The official chronology shows that Cold Pizza ended on May 4, and was replaced by a new show, ESPN First Take, on May 7, though nearly all of the former show's features were incorporated into the new show.
From the show's inception through 2005, its format was similar to traditional network television morning shows such as Good Morning America and The Today Show, featuring discussion among the hosts on entertainment and sports topics. After poor initial ratings, the format was changed to be similar to that of SportsCenter and Pardon the Interruption, including sports headlines, analysis, and debate. Because of the format change, hosts Hoover and Maxie were let go due to lack of a sports journalism background, and Jacobson, Paige, and Bayless joined. Co-host Andrews was transferred by ESPN to Los Angeles to co-host ESPN2's new evening entertainment news show, ESPN Hollywood. That show was cancelled in January 2006, and Andrews remained with ESPN until November 2006, when she left the company to work as a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight.
The most recent format of the program featured the introduction graphic introducing the hosts and a show rundown. Following that was "The Top Story" of the sports world and an appropriate guest, followed by the "Morning Headlines," which included about four or five news items from around sports. The headline segment was repeated at the top of the second hour.
At 20 and 40 past the first and second hour, Crawford, Bayless and Paige (or a guest contributor after Paige's departure) were featured in segments entitled "1st and 10," which were edited into a stand-alone show that aired later in the day. The "Morning Slice," a look at offbeat sports video, was also part of the program.
In February 2006, Texas Tech head basketball coach Bobby Knight was promoting a new reality show for ESPN entitled Knight School. Jacobson asked Knight at the end of the interview if he was interested in returning to his old coaching job at Indiana University. This made Knight angry, which ultimately led to him walking out of the interview. Jacobson was not at work the next day, but not because of the Knight incident; she had a planned vacation day, according to the network.