As the second half of Bill Simmons' Any Given Wednesday continues, HBO is trying to bring out the big guns in hopes of establishing a loyal fanbase come next year. To do that, HBO has reached out to modern icons of the two demographics that seem to tune in every week: sports fans and rap fans.
In a memo sent out to the media earlier this week, HBO confirmed that soccer star Abby Wambach and hip-hop host Charlamagne Tha God would join Bill Simmons in the latest of the network's newest talk show.
Wambach, 36, is a retired soccer player who is likely appearing on Simmons' show to promote her new book, Forward: A Memoir, which released earlier this month. A two-time Olympic Gold medalist and an out lesbian, Wambach has battled substance abuse issues in the past and was arrested in April, 2016, for driving under the influence; the Rochester native, who is in the middle of a separation from her wife, was also featured in FIFA 16(along with the rest of her national teammates), marking the first time a women's team was included in the game.
That may not sound like much, but it was actually a big milestone at the time and marked a major landmark in female sports history. ESPNW's Katie Barnes said the following in an article last fall.
"In FIFA 16, the U.S. women can play the U.S. men without any real-life constraints -- no squabbling about turf, about funding, about biology. It's the beautiful game without sexist incursion. This is more than just a moment, but it's not a total breakthrough into mainstream consciousness, either. It's something in between, and could result in some amazing changes that resonate through other leagues as well."Along with two-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning, who is the all-time leader in NFL touchdowns and arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, and legendary Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, who retired in April after twenty years, Wambach was honored at the 2016 ESPYS with the "Icon Award."
Wambach recently made headlines during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, where the legendary soccer player tore into U.S. soccer star Hope Solo for her post-Olympic comments about losing to Sweden and calling them "cowards."
"I have big problems with that. You never call another team coward(s) after you've just been beaten, right? The rules in the game are the rules in the game and you don't want to be a sore loser — not when you're the best team in the world. That, to me, looks weak, when you're pointing fingers at another team that just beat you and call them cowards — that's like playground stuff. Be a professional. Stand up and say, 'You know what, they beat us at our own game. They played better than us today.' Call a spade a spade."Born Lenard McKelvey, Charlamagne Tha God is best known for hosting The Breakfast Club, a hip-hop oriented radio show, alongside DJ Envy and Angela Yee. The Breakfast Club has come under fire recently for comments made by Envy, who admitted on air to supporting "stop and frisk" because it got guns off the street.
"You can say.2 [percent], but I'll take.2 of a billion dollars. Yes, 900 guns off the street, you can say it's only.2 percent, but 900 guns off the street is a lot of guns off New York City."
Complex passed along word that Charlamagne and Yee, to their credit, both took issue with their co-host's opinions on the matter. Charlamagne put it on air as follows.
"All stop and frisk did was give police officers who already wanna harass blacks and Hispanics a reason, lawfully, to harass blacks and Hispanics."
After a rough showing on September 14 where only 148,000 people tuned in, the ratings for Any Given Wednesday improved to 159,000 last week when Kevin Durant and Nas both joined Simmons. At this time, next week's guests are unconfirmed, though the presence of a Boston-affiliated sports figure would make sense due to both New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's return on October 9 and the Red Sox beginning their postseason run sometime next week.
This is the second straight week where Any Given Wednesday has featured a popular hip-hop icon, and the ratings show that in episodes where there's more of a focus on entertainment, more people seem to tune in. August 17's episode that saw Jonah Hill promoting his new movie Sausage Party did 204,00 viewers, while the episode with female NFL executive Amy Trask and Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter only did 148,000.
Other HBO playdates include Sept. 29 (1:15 p.m., midnight) and 30 (11:00 a.m., 2:50 a.m.), and Oct. 2 (9:00 a.m.), while HBO2 playdates are currently scheduled for Sept. 28 (11:00 p.m.) and 29 (8:45 a.m.), and Oct. 1 (10:45 a.m.), 3 (2:10 a.m.) and 4 (12:05 a.m.)
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]