The first episode of HBO Game Theory with Bomani Jones premiered last week, seeing the Emmy-winning sportswriter and media personality do what he does best, in a new role as a late-night host on prestige premium cable.
A show centered around her unique talents seems like a no-brainer, but it’s been a long time coming. And through its initial run of six episodes, it seems to be making its mark as a very unique take.
Jones recently told Shadow and Act to share some thoughts on the show and his experience making it.
With intro music from legendary producer Just Blaze, thanks to the help of legendary Houston Rapper Bun B, Jones has his superhero theme song complete with a $9,000 costume instead of a cape and a cap.
The show immediately hits you with a distinct identity and that it won’t be the late night show you are used to seeing.
Asked about freedom and the HBO show allowed outside of sports giant ESPN, Jones explained: “I don’t feel like there was anything in the first episode that I wouldn’t say about ESPN, you can swear a little more, but I never felt handcuffed to ESPN. The ideas that I was presenting and the notions, I would say that anywhere. I just have more room to operate.”
Jones explained that ESPN doesn’t do shows like this and that there’s a different ambition at play. The show features Jones delivering late-night jokes and observations from behind a desk, something that he is delighted to see evolve throughout the show.
When developing the show, Jones says he made it clear that the jokes need to sound more organic – like he’s actually saying them, rather than sounding like he’s just reading from. a teleprompter. He says the series “isn’t much different” from what he already does, but there is an adjustment in a scripted series to having some time to comment freely.
Jones has been praised for his cerebral takes and observations, but he’s also been someone who finds the underlying hilarity in sports and recognizes the ridicule sports can create. When asked about balancing serious storytelling with hilarious sports discovery, he commented, “For me, it’s always been about that because things are always a range of what it can be. to be, and so I take the subject as I wish, receive it and return to you what I have.
Jones being the man that everything runs through, the show, like any late-night show, depends on the ability and talent of the host and how the material is used and formed into a unified vision. Jones praised the show’s creative process and acknowledged the collaboration between the show’s various moving parts, such as its writer’s room and the news department, as something special. “I love it,” he said of the process. “It’s an invigorating process to have so many smart people out there, all working together to make ‘one thing, as good as possible.
game theory puts Jones in several parameters. We see him behind the desk like any late night show would, plus “man on the street” segments where we get everyday people’s reactions to some of the most ridiculous stories for real laughs, a segment Jones said would be easier when it’s not freezing outside.
Jones also met fellow ESPN member Stephen A. Smith. There’s a familiarity and coziness to the interview that showed a more laid-back Smith as a counterweight to his television persona. Jones said he was surprised at how open and willing Smith was to share, and that the whole interview was compelling, but only a limited part could fit into the show.
The show also produced a hilarious look at the dominance of legendary NCAA men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (now entering his final NCAA tournament) with Jones breaking down Black’s aversion to Duke and all that. that Coach K. Jones’ hilarious breakdown leads to an incredible sketch. which looked like something Chappelle show if it was centered on sports. Jones described the “Coach K Museum” as materializing from an idea started during a phone call with a producer, the seed of that conversation eventually becoming the culmination of the show’s first episode, a hallmark of the new power and leeway Jones now has with game theory.
game theory is live on tape, filming his day-of episode, something unusual in the sports space. Jones says the day of shooting was pretty easy, commenting on the hour-long shoot saying, “It’s easy money for me, reading the teleprompter, I need to get better, but it’s not not hard. It was a day without pressure for me. The confidence and assurance he has about the show comes from the belief that their product is good and that the opportunity presented to him and his staff has been fully exploited. According to Jones, whatever comes after is the icing on the cake.
After the first shoot, Jones says he got a standing ovation that hit him hard. “I was very touched that our whole team, most of whom don’t really know me like that, seemed very happy for me,” he said. “Happy with the show, but especially happy for me and I found that very touching.
He talked about kissing his agent, who he’s worked with for more than a decade, in one of the most emotional hugs he’s had that day. “We’ve been pointing it out for a decade, it’s something we specifically wanted,” he added.
As someone who isn’t averse to praise but is measured in receiving it, Jones says he went all the way this time around, marking the occasion as a celebration of his 22 years in industry culminating with this achievement.
Game Theory With Bomani Jones airs Sundays at 11:30 p.m., with this week’s episode airing at 11 p.m. directly after Winning Time. It also airs on HBO Max.