Pardon the Interruption

From Academic Kids

Pardon the Interruption, also known as PTI, is a TV show on ESPN filmed in Washington, DC. It features syndicated columnists Tony Kornheiser, and Michael Wilbon, both of whom work for The Washington Post. It is a debate show with a similar format to CNN's Crossfire. Unlike Crossfire which debated issues in politics, PTI debates current events in sports.



The show is divided into several segments. Segments included in all shows are:

  • Headlines: (Show opener) Tony and Mike usually debate over five or six issues. Normally they are allotted up to two minutes a topic.
  • Five Good Minutes: Tony and Mike interview a sports figure (often an analyst) for about five minutes. If there is no guest to be interviewed, either "Headlines" continues, or they'll move onto one of the segments below. "Five Good Minutes" may also be held to the slot where one of the segments below would usually take place. On June 8, 2005, Drew Rosenhaus, agent of NFL stars like Terrell Owens, appeared as a guest during this segment. Tony and Mike were so engaged in the interview that it actually ran eleven minutes and the following segment (Role Play) was cancelled.
  • Between Five Good Minutes and Happy Happy Time there is always a different segment, including:
    • Mail Time, where they read and respond to viewer e-mail.
    • Toss Up, where they chose between two sides on a given topic. Tony claims to have a perfect record in this game.
    • Good Cop, Bad Cop, a variation of "Toss Up" played in police officer costumes with one "Good Cop" who takes the side of the person, team, or item that is being discussed and the other one being the "Bad Cop."
    • Over/Under, where they argue whether a certain sports figure will go over or under a certain number (40 home runs, 60 wins, etc). They will also argue very off-beat statistics, such as the duration of Britney Spears's marriage. Wilbon is often chided by Kornheiser and Reali here for choosing "push", as the name of the game stipulates that he must select either over or under. In an effort to prevent this, a decimal figure is sometimes used(2.5 touchdowns, 30.5 points etc.)
    • Role Play (loosely referred to as "Heads on Sticks"), where they argue from the perspective of a sports figure while holding a picture of him or her in front of their faces.
    • Food Chain, where Tony and Mike rank a set of teams or players (both current and historical) in order based on a given criteria (such as "Most Marketable Athlete", "Best NBA Point Guard" or "Biggest Disappointment of the Year"). Usually Wilbon and Kornheiser will have variations in their lists, which leads the main discussion points.
    • Psychic Hotline, where Tony and Mike field phone calls, making predictions for an upcoming sports event/tournament. Tony wears a turban, in the style of Carnac the Magnificent and when he makes predictions he places his hand on a Van de Graaff electrostatic generator.
    • Odds!, or Oddsmakers, where Tony Reali gives Tony and Mike a possible outcome of a future sports event and they each state the percent chance that they think that will happen. A selection of "50%" is seen unfavorably, much like the "Push" option in "Over/Under".
  • Happy Happy Time, where they send someone a "Happy Birthday", a "Happy Anniversary" (generally an "on this date", not a marriage anniversary), and a "Happy Trails" (a departure of some sort, such as a firing, an injury, a retirement, or a death).
  • Errors/Corrections, in which, if time allows, the show's "Stat Boy," Tony Reali, corrects any factual errors that Tony and Mike may have made. When Dan LeBatard is hosting, he refers to Reali as "Stat Face."
  • The Big Finish: For the final 60 seconds of the show, they make a few comments on stories they missed.

The last point or topic in each section is often, but not always, about a non-sports related pop-culture event.

PTI debuted October 22, 2001. It airs daily at 5:30 PM Eastern Time (if not pre-empted by live events such as golf) and is repeated at 6:30 PM Eastern Time on ESPNEWS.

Guest hosts

When one of the normal hosts is sick or on vacation, they have a guest host, usually another prominent sports writer.

Other versions

In 2004 Crackerjack Television started producing an Australian version of the show, which airs weekly on the Australian ESPN channel and features former Australian Rules footballer Sam Kekovic. ESPN Australia also broadcasts the American version of the show before SportsCenter.


It has been suggested that the theme song and commercial outro music thematically reference the song "Cut Your Hair" by Pavement, but actual samples from the song are not used. This is probably meant as a joke, as both Tony and Mike are bald.


The CBS show Listen Up! is based on the life of Tony Kornheiser. In it, the main characters Tony Kleinman (Jason Alexander) and Bernie Widmer (Malcolm Jamal-Warner) are obviously analogues to Tony and Michael, and co-host an off-beat sports show titled "Listen Up!"

External links


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