Not quite six months after its July 2004 premiere, word came down yesterday that the mighty mouth would be muffled, at least on cable news. Numerous news sources are citing internal CNBC memos that John McEnroe’s nightly mostly-middle-aged fratboy gabfest will be replaced at the beginning of 2005 by “The Big Idea,” with ad maven Donny Deutsch trying to attract viewers and advertising dollars to a struggling CNBC.
While he still has the ability to thrill fans with his personality and play on court -- as he has done this week with his play at the year-end Masters Championships being played in London -- McEnroe has not shown the same deft touch on TV show sets. His 2002 game show on ABC, “The Chair,” also faded to black soon after the klieg lights first blazed down on the famed tennis court showman ... and bestselling author.
McEnroe had publicly called for additional promotion dollars to be spent on his show, but the more realistic decision was clearly to do what CNBC suits will do. Quick fixes have been applied since the tepid early reviews and, despite various pledges of support, the reported 75,000 viewers on some nights and 0.0 weekly Nielsen ratings cannot deliver either the critical attention nor advertising dollars CNBC needs.
While the failure of the show is likely disappointing, McEnroe never seemed fully at ease on the show and surely must relish the news that he should be free of the hosting burden in time to return as a commentator at the Australian Open, a seat that has always offered a much better connection between star and audience.