Gumbel keeps it ‘Real’

A new season of Bryant Gumbel's HBO show 'Real Sports' kicks off tonight at 10.
A new season of Bryant Gumbel's HBO show 'Real Sports' kicks off tonight at 10.

Bryant Gumbel wants to gossip about the Golden Globes.

This might surprise casual followers who think of Gumbel as the guy who bristled when David Letterman boomed wisecracks through a megaphone during an outdoor taping of the Today show and was the author of an infamous memo to network execs, accusing Today co-workers of not taking their jobs seriously enough.

But there’s another Gumbel, the one who used to host Survivor finales and the Emmy Awards, the one who endured countless cooking segments during two stints on morning talk shows, the one who gamely made a cameo in the Nicolas Cage movie The Weather Man.

In other words, Gumbel, 64, is a lot more fun than people give him credit for, which is why some think it’s borderline criminal that he no longer appears on TV regularly.

When not sharing his off-the-record thoughts on Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech, Gumbel hinted during a phone interview last week that he might consider returning to the daily grind of daytime TV. Until then, there’s a new season of his HBO show Real Sports, which kicks off at 10 tonight with a profile on Royce White, a promising basketball player who’s been on the sidelines battling anxiety disorders. And then there’s a certain athlete Gumbel took to task in an on-air editorial last fall.

Q. No one has been more critical of Lance Armstrong than you. Now that he has confessed to doping, can you muster up any sympathy?

A. I don’t want to be the person who can’t find it in his heart to find forgiveness, but the way he’s handled himself and assailed his critics makes it hard. I mean, he vilified anyone who came up against him, so much so that you can’t just give him a do-over.

Q. What if he called up and said he wanted to appear on Real Sports?

A. I’d be happy to sit down and talk with him, but I don’t think he’s going to do that. I don’t think he wants to answer difficult questions that will make him uncomfortable. He’s going to choose the path of least resistance.

Q. The most natural broadcasters of our generation are you and Bob Costas. Is it just a coincidence that you both come from a sports background?

A. Thank you. This is something I dealt with when I made the transition from sports to news with great uproar. I always thought sports was a great training ground because you have to think on your feet and make sense of something that’s somewhat complex in a limited time frame.

Q. For years, you’ve said you’re not interested in returning to daily television. Have you changed your mind?

A. I have considered it, but have not jumped. I certainly don’t want to do a show where people are yelling at each other. If I could find a way to engage people in discussion without that, I might be interested.

Singer remembered

A memorial fund has been established for Don Spurlin, a long-time Toledo and Perrysburg resident and a barbershop singer who died last week in Houston.

Spurlin and his wife Brenda have lived in the Texas city for two years. They were innkeepers at the Mansion View Inn, a bed and breakfast in the Old West End. He was a singer with the Commanders of Harmony and his quartet Streetwise in Toledo and also was active in barbershop singing in Houston.

Spurlin’s group there, the Houston Tidelanders, has established a memorial fund in his name for anyone who would like to make a contribution to the Harmony Foundation’s “Keep the Melody Ringing” youth outreach program. Mr. Spurlin died of cancer at the age of 70.

For information on the fund go to or write to Houston Tidelanders, 12522 Blackstone Ct., Houston, TX, 77077. Checks can be sent to that address made out to the Houston Tidelanders with “Don Spurlin Fund” in the memo section.


PBS will launch Shakespeare Uncovered on Friday, a series of six documentaries about the Bard with notable guides such as Sir Derek Jacobi, Ethan Hawke, Joely Richardson, and Jeremy Irons. “One of the reasons why Shakespeare still works, not just still works, but actually why Shakespeare shines as the greatest dramatist of all time is that he was writing about human condition, whether it be the comedies or the tragedies or the historical plays,” says Irons.

“That’s the setting. But, always, it’s about the specific thing of jealousy or of envy or of unrequited love or of a relationship between family members. It’s something which hasn’t changed. So when we see those plays now, they still speak to us with a resonance that many hundreds of plays written between Shakespeare’s time and today don’t.”

Feline film frenzy

Everyone’s favorite Internet meme — the cat video — has hit the big time.

Behold the Catdance Film Festival, a one-night celebration of camera-worthy cats that was held Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The five short films that were featured, culled from submissions by cat lovers across the country, told creative, feline-focused tales. There was the story of an aging Internet cat who can’t cope with the loss of fame and A Cat’s Guide to Caring for a Human.

“Humans are inherently lazy,” reported the latter film in a ’50s-inspired instructional style. “Left to their own devices, they will sleep well past the break of dawn.”

Other films included Catalogue, where a couple orders a bedspread from a catalog and is surprised to see that the cat shown in the photo was shipped with the comforter. Rocky tells a heartfelt story of a man’s 17-year relationship with his cat. In A Change of Heart, a photo of a cat on a cellphone saves a failing relationship.

Each of the five finalists was awarded a golden cat-litter scoop. The event was sponsored by the Fresh Step litter brand.