Celeb passions on ‘Record’

HBO bridges the gap between balls and buzz

What could Jay-Z and Ichiro possibly have in common? Both the rapper and Seattle Mariners outfielder appeared on a recent episode of HBO’s latenight skein “On the Record With Bob Costas,” which aggressively courts the connection between sports and entertainment.

When it launched three years ago, “On the Record” encouraged celebrities to talk about their sports passions. Now, Costas doesn’t come in with a pre-set agenda and allows his guests to discuss whatever is on their minds, be it baseball or Broadway.

“These entertainers are only asked about their current projects on the talkshow circuit and don’t get to dig into the passions of their lives,” says HBO Sports topper Ross Greenburg. “Costas enables them to hit on subjects they’re passionate about.”

Recent discussions included Denis Leary talking up the difference between Boston and New York sports fans; “Bull Durham” director Ron Shelton, and film stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon talking about their recent exclusion from an event at baseball’s Hall of Fame and Roger Clemens discussing his overseas trip to support the U.S. military.

Since moving the show from 10:30 p.m. Thursdays to 11:30 Fridays, ratings have seen a year-to-date 56% uptick.

Note: Originally ran in the July 14, 2003 Los Angeles edition.

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