A.J. Daulerio of DEADSPIN had the recent fortune of sitting down for a chummy chat with ESPN personality Kenny Mayne.
The stoic, deadpan, “Yahtzee!”-screaming, kayak-riding Dancer with the Stars was the first subject for the website’s newest venture, “Interviews of a Lifetime” - a feature that will do for sports blogging what “Who’s Now” did for sports television.
But we kid the Deadspinning staff.
So, why did Kenny agree to do the interview? Money? Prestige? The fact he has a book coming out entitled “An Incomplete & Inaccurate History of Sport” which hits bookstores on April 22? The world may never know.
Anyway, some fun facts Daulerio dragged out of Mayne’s mind:
• He recently signed a new contract to stay with ESPN, but he’ll be keeping clear of the SportsCenter set. He also “jokingly asked” for a signing bonus, but did not receive one.
• When “real world” stories are presented on the network (i.e. 9/11), Bob Ley is brought in to cover them. Mayne refers to Ley as “The General”. (Does new ESPN employee Bob Knight know this?)
• “Who’s Now” was not one of Kenny’s “favorite things ESPN has ever done.”
• He admits he was “completely thrown off guard” by Sean Salisbury’s firing.
• On Emmitt Smith: “I think he’s a great dancer. Great guy. I think he’s getting a lot better on television…”
• Meanwhile, Kenny’s own “Dancing With The Stars” salary was “a little under six figures.”
• And he’s going to see Pearl Jam on June 27 with fellow ESPNer Neil Everett. An evening with Eddie Vdder and Neil! Lucky guy.
Kenny also touched on the way he appears during his SportsCenter moments, as some have commented (Daulerio, et. al.) that he looks bored:
“That was actually a criticism of one of the [ESPN] bosses. That doing something in a deadpan way may come across like that. But I don’t think I’m bored, I just think it’s funnier if I don’t laugh at my own joke, ring the bell, or announce, ‘Okay, I’m going to say something funny now.’”
Mayne’s dry delivery is definitely a nice change of pace from Chris Berman’s bombasity & Stuart Scott’s Boo-yah-sity.
But what of Kenny’s future? Does he has plans & ambitions after his stint with the Worldwide Leader?
“If I had my druthers, I’d not work and just make independent films. But I like the position I’m in with ESPN right now and the security so we’re not quite there yet.”
And of his jump into the literary world?
He says the publisher has earmarked 40-50 thousand as a success and he’s frustrated by how low the number is. “I want to sell a million. And all the publishers were kind of patronizing me, saying, yeah, good luck with that. And it is weird trying to sell this book, because I have no agent, no publicist. I could conceivably just stick it on the shelf and just not care — but wouldn’t you rather succeed but not succeed?”
If you’d like to help him succeed, help yourself.