Bleacher Report: Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir have had such instant impact as figure skating analysts for NBC that it’s easy to forget the two broadcasting rookies were no more than a B team when they stole the show at the Sochi Olympics four years ago.
NBC had promised to air all of the figure skating live, and because of the time difference between the U.S. and Russia, the network needed a daytime crew. Those backups would handle the live action at midday, while the regular crew put together the prime-time package.
Little did anyone realize that NBC was about to hit the broadcasting lottery.
They had instant comedic harmony, with their casual chatter and humorous asides playing amazingly well against the staunch and exacting backdrop of figure skating, where obsessive coaches and choreographers leave no detail to chance.
They also had a great bottom line, generating the 10 best weekday daytime audiences in the network’s history. That performance earned a promotion to prime time for this month’s Pyeongchang Olympics.
“Some commentators stand on opposite sides of the booth, and they don’t even look at each other,” Weir says disdainfully. “Tara and I sit in each other’s laps.”
It’s safe to say Weir is the only Olympic analyst to show up for work wearing a hot pink Chanel blazer. But he readily admits his broadcasting style is a knockoff of how Dick Button famously critiqued the sport for a half-century. As a competitor, Weir was always filled with reverence and fear as he waited to hear Button’s reviews.
“I have so much respect for him, but he could get snarky, and he could get nasty,” Weir says. “And it would hit you right in the heart, because you want a little softness from the commentators that are calling the most important moments of your life.
“But if you weren’t good, Dick wasn’t going to give you the softness you were looking for. He was keeping it real and honest about the mistakes you made, and what was ugly and what was beautiful. I try and do the same thing.”
Read the full interview here.