By NICOLE EVATT, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK – Pat O’Brien is returning to the spotlight as co-host of a sports radio show. But he isn’t leaving entertainment behind.
O’Brien, 62, can talk about LeBron James and Mel Gibson with the knowledge of an inside expert. The former host of ‘The Insider‘ syndicated entertainment newsmagazine and ‘Access Hollywood‘ also worked for CBS Sports.
He is now co-host with Steve Hartman and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs on the Fox Sports Radio show ‘Loose Cannons,’ previously known as ‘Hartman & Friends.’ The show airs Monday through Friday (3 p.m.-7 p.m. EDT). It features news, analysis and interviews from sports and entertainment.
In a recent phone interview, O’Brien talked about his radio show, sobriety and why he wants to open a burger shack in South Dakota.
AP: What can fans expect from ‘Loose Cannons’?
O’Brien: This show is more than just sports. The line between sports and entertainment is completely erased and you know sports stars have their own red carpets every night and you know athletes want to be actors and some of them want to be bad actors and actors want to be athletes. Most of them are bad athletes, but there’s a synergism there that works. I bring the sports, and people forget I was in news for 10 years, too, so I bring news, sports and entertainment right to the show.
AP: What do you think about the LeBron James controversy?
O’Brien: LeBron James made a mistake. Somehow somebody got into his ear and said, “Hey not only are you the biggest and most popular player but everybody wants to hear you say how big and popular you are.” … Until LeBron wins something there’s no King James, there’s Prince James until then.
AP: Since you have an extensive entertainment background and have weathered your own storms, what are your thoughts on Mel Gibson?
O’Brien: Mel’s one of those people, and I’ve interviewed him many times, who is very uncomfortable in his own skin. He’s just got to pull himself together. I don’t know what goes on the other side of that relationship and there may be two sides to every story but he’s certainly the talk right now and I feel bad for him. … The morning-zoo radio shows can have a lot of fun with me or Mel Gibson or Lindsay Lohan or David Hasselhoff. … Alcoholism affects one in four people in this country and it’s not funny.
AP: What was the turning point when you decided to go into rehab?
O’Brien: It is a serious brain disorder and people don’t understand what alcoholism is. … If you keep drinking, you’re gonna die and yeah, had I kept drinking, I would have died.
AP: How does it feel to be returning to the air clean and sober?
O’Brien: I was never on the air drunk. I never drank when I worked. … I go on the air clean and sober. I have no secrets anymore. You know that’s liberating. There’s nothing anybody can say bad about me anymore because it’s all been said, so there’s tremendous liberation in that.
AP: Tell me about your autobiography.
O’Brien: I have a book coming out … next summer. Andrew Morton, who wrote Lady Di, Tom Cruise and Madonna and Monica Lewinsky’s (biographies), is writing it with me, and we’re doing a look at my life and the pretty insane, interesting life that I’ve had and we’ll also put some perspective on how these entertainment shows have created a culture that has kind of ruined pop culture.
AP: What are your long-term goals?
O’Brien: My real goal in life is to buy the Hamburger Inn in Sioux Falls, S.D., which is a 35-50 cent, nine-passenger diner, and move up there and flip hamburgers for the rest of my life. It’s absolutely true. … I love South Dakota. I love my heritage. For me there’s everything I want, good friends, great sobriety, great meetings, great recovery there, and there’s this little Hamburger Inn I’d love to buy.
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