Saturday, October 29, 2005

Returning To A Detroit TV Near You: Eli Zaret

Eli Zaret is coming back to the Detroit airwaves, to a television near you, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Heck, Eli’s okay, actually. And his new role -- that of third man in the Pistons’ telecasts on channel 20 this season -- is probably going to be the perfect role for him.

Zaret will intro the show, do some halftime stuff, and roam the sidelines as a reporter during the game. Channel 20 will do about 25 telecasts, I believe. Zaret will not appear on the games covered by Fox Sports Detroit. The channel 20 team will consist of George Blaha and Bill Laimbeer.

Remember this dude?

I can’t even remember the last time I saw Eli Zaret on television, though I know he’s been busy writing books and working in publicity. There were times that he annoyed me -- his relationship/friendship with a scumbag like Denny McLain was off-putting -- but I guess being Zaret-free for all these years has made him more palatable. For now.

I suppose I should acknowledge that Eli Zaret is part of the pop culture when it comes to radio and TV guys in this town. He’s been around for nearly 30 years, if you can imagine that. Us oldtimers remember him on the old WABX radio station, then WLLZ, and of course his first TV job at channel 4. I’ve watched him grow up -- literally and figuratively -- from a rough-edged cub reporter to a dean of sorts on Detroit air. Just another thing to make me very much in touch with my age.

As far as the actual show itself goes, I think a third guy can add some proper spice and depth to the telecast. Basketball is made for the sideline guy, with its timeouts and such close proximity to the press. It’s a nice dimension, provided it’s not overused, as some networks are wont to do. And if Eli Zaret doesn’t know by now what we Detroit TV viewers want, then shame on him.

Zaret was one of those Detroiters who zipped off to New York to make it, but then came back with his tail between his legs. Just like Bill Bonds, and Bernie Smilovitz. Ironically, the one guy who DID make it in the Big Apple, my friend Bob Page, was considered a non-conformist and a troublemaker in Detroit -- irreverant and a loose cannon. Perfect ingredients, apparently, for success in New York. Makes you wonder why Bill Bonds couldn’t make it there.

So Eli Zaret is back on TV in Detroit. Welcome back, oh-gravelly-voiced one.

1 comment:

Ian C. said...

I'm not a fan of sideline reporters, as a rule. Ahmad Rashad caddying for Michael Jordan is just too fresh in my mind. Maybe Eli can do the same thing for 'Sheed. Now THAT would be good TV. :)

I miss Eli on the radio. I really liked 'The Lockerroom.' He, Gibby, and Danielson had a good chemistry on the air, I thought.

But I have to say, if Eli writes more books because he's not on the air, I'd be happy with that. I enjoyed his book on the '84 Tigers.