Q: What are your memories of Howard Cosell and Monday Night Football®?
A: I remember Howard from all the Muhammad Ali fights and other events that I watched, such as the Olympics. I was a big boxing fan because my father was an amateur boxer. I remember when the show began because it was at night, something you never saw before. I was 13 and was usually only allowed to watch until halftime. It was something new and different, and I liked both Howard and "Dandy Don." As an announcer, Howard made things very exciting, even if you hated what he was saying or completely disagreed with him. He had a big effect on people. I remember my father being angry with him at times. Howard often took a very unpopular stance, and people hated him for that. He really was an interesting guy -- one of a kind. And, of course, his voice was so distinctive that Monday Night Football® could never be the same again. I sometimes performed skits for my father. I would imitate Muhammad Ali and other fighters and would do a little impression of Howard.
Q: When you were doing the research on Howard, was there anything about him that surprised you?
A: He could be brutally honest and cruel, with his mouth and his mind. The idea of him not being an athlete infuriated a lot of people. I think that's really wrong because the best announcers usually aren't athletes. He really was a big figure in sports and a really good journalist. I also didn't know his background, that he was a lawyer. Another thing that surprised me was his reaction to the people who criticized him. He said considering the sources of the heat, he'd never get out of the kitchen. He was almost childlike in his inability to comprehend that people didn't like him.
Q: Were there any challenges portraying Howard Cosell?
A: This role explored different facets of his personality that I think were never before portrayed -- his insecurities, intelligence and his anger. It can be limiting to play someone who actually existed, but I think it would have been harder to do if I couldn't do his voice at all or spoke only as an announcer would. In playing him, I had to deal with his posture and voice and things like that.
Q: What do you think Howard's relationship was with his co-hosts, Don and Frank?
A: I think, initially, he had a good relationship with Don. When Frank came in, Howard actually knew him quite well. I think he really liked him, but both Frank and Don were ex-athletes, and that kind of put Howard as the odd man out. I think that eventually became exacerbated as time went on. Howard had a very high standard and a very high work ethic. When people made mistakes, I guess Howard could be tough on them.
Q: What was Howard's relationship with Roone Arledge?
A: Roone basically made Howard. He put him on Wide World of Sports when nobody wanted him. Howard was a radio announcer, and none of the people at ABC wanted his face. They didn't like his voice, and, as I really think about it, there weren't really any ethnic announcers. What I mean by "ethnic" is that there weren't any Jews or blacks, and I don't remember any Italians. Howard made you listen, and Roone supported him and all of Howard's unpopular answers.
Q: What did you learn about Howard's relationship with his wife, Emmy?
A: He said she basically kept him real and in the real world. I think he loved her deeply and really depended on her. She was an emotional anchor for him.