Following in the footsteps of Jim McKay:
ESPN SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak has been named host for the telecast of the Indianapolis 500 on ABC on Sunday, May 26. ABC will be televising the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for the 49th consecutive year, extending one of the longest-running relationships between a sporting event and a TV network, and Czarniak will be the first woman ever to host the telecast.
Also, former Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever will expand his role as an analyst in ESPN’s coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series to work in the broadcast booth for all six races that will air on ABC this season.
Czarniak, who co-anchors the 6 p.m. SportsCenter with John Anderson, joined ESPN in 2011. She has a background in motorsports, having served as a pit and feature reporter and host for TNT’s telecasts of NASCAR Sprint Cup races and a pit reporter for NBC Sports prior to moving to ESPN. She also has hosted ESPN’s NASCAR Now program.
She was as sports anchor and reporter at WRC-TV (NBC4) in Washington, D.C., from 2005-2011. During that time, she also worked for NBC covering the 2006 Winter and 2008 Summer Olympic Games as well as NASCAR.
Czarniak will be positioned on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s iconic Pagoda during ABC’s one-hour Indianapolis 500 pre-race show at 11 a.m. on May 26. She also will contribute to the race telecast.
Cheever, a former Formula One driver who won the 1998 Indianapolis 500, will join lap-by-lap announcer Marty Reid and analyst Scott Goodyear to call the six IndyCar Series races on ABC. Cheever has been an analyst for ESPN since 2008 but has primarily worked only on the Indianapolis 500 telecast.
The Arizona native made 132 starts in Formula One from 1978-89, the most by any American driver in the history of the sport. He returned to the United States in 1990 to pursue his dream of winning the Indy 500, racing in the former CART series and then in the IndyCar Series when it launched in 1996. He scored five wins in the IndyCar Series and last raced in 2006.
The Indianapolis 500 will be the first of the six races ESPN will be producing to air on ABC. Others will include a doubleheader at Detroit’s Belle Isle on June 1 and 2 and a Saturday night prime time race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on June 8. Races at Iowa Speedway (June 23) and the return of IndyCar racing to Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway (July 7) will complete ABC’s schedule.
This will go over well with Mad Men fans:
The 2013 ESPYS will be hosted by actor Jon Hamm, widely celebrated for his role as Don Draper on AMC’s award-winning series Mad Men. The announcement was made during Hamm’s appearance this morning on LIVE with Kelly and Michael. Hamm has earned numerous accolades for his performance on the series including a Golden Globe Award, Television Critics Association Award and a Critics’ Choice Television Award, as well as multiple Emmy and Screen Actors Guild nominations. The 2013 ESPYS will be televised live Wednesday, July 17, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPNHD from Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles.
Hamm will be joined by an all-star lineup of top athletes and entertainers to celebrate the best sports stories of the last year, leading fans through the year’s best plays, biggest upsets and most outstanding performances across all sports. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Hamm considers himself a passionate sports fan and he fervently follows the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues, as well as the NFL. Hamm played in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Games in 2009 (St. Louis) and in 2012 (Kansas City), where he played third base next to his childhood idol Ozzie Smith.
“The ESPYS is designed to showcase the year’s best sports moments in a sharp, fun and entertaining manner and Jon’s the perfect host for this year’s show. His appearances on shows like 30 Rock and SNL show that humor and creativity are two of his main strengths,” said Maura Mandt, the show’s executive producer. “The combination of Jon’s dry wit with his passion for sports will give fans a unique and original view of the year in sports.”
“I’m very excited to be hosting the ESPYS. As a longtime sports fan and a marginally successful high school athlete I feel my skill-set jibes well with a host’s duties,” said Hamm. “I now have to figure out what cleats to wear with a tuxedo.”
This summer, Hamm will film the baseball drama Million Dollar Arm (Walt Disney Pictures and Mayhem Pictures) about a disillusioned sports agent who seeks professional pitching talent through the staging of a reality show in India. Last year, Hamm starred in and produced Friends with Kids for writer/director/star Jennifer Westfeldt. His previous film credits include Bridesmaids with Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck’s The Town, Zack Snyder’s fantasy thriller Sucker Punch, Howl with James Franco, and Shrek Forever After, in which he voiced the character Brogan. On the television side, Hamm’s appearances on the comedy 30 Rock have earned him three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, and he has hosted Saturday Night Live three times to critical-acclaim.
As previously announced, The 2013 ESPYS will recognize the strength and courage of Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts by honoring her with this year’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is presented each year to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. A selection of past honorees include: Jim Valvano (1993); Howard Cosell (1995); Muhammad Ali (1997); Billie Jean King (1999); former president Nelson Mandela (2009) and women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt (2012).