Sunday, July 08, 2001

Sportscaster a must-see in sitcom

        Nobody was surprised when Kevin Frazier went network from WXIX-TV. Fox's FX channel and the new Fox Sports Net were a logical move for Channel 19's weekend anchor and University of Cincinnati basketball analyst in 1995. But doing a network sitcom? In NBC's “Must-See TV” lineup? This was really his dream?

        “No way! No way!” said Mr. Frazier, 37, an anchor for Fox Sports Net's Los Angeles-based National Sports Report (10:30 p.m. weekdays) who will play himself on NBC's Inside Schwartz sitcom.

        “Is that unbelieveable? It's the craziest thing. It's so Hollywood.”

        He'll be at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, which starts Monday in Pasadena, to promote the show at an NBC press conference.

        He'll be on the same stage in the Ritz-Carlton ballroom where TV critics in the next three weeks will interview Jason Alexander, Britney Spears, Tom Hanks, Salma Hayek, Richard Dreyfuss, Sally Field, Alan Alda, Reba McEntire, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Emeril Lagasse, Rocky Carroll, Dana Delany, Debbie Reynolds, Bill Bellamy, Dennis Miller and Kim Delaney about their TV shows.

        Mr. Frazier will be seated next to Inside Schwartz stars Breckin Meyer (The Insider, Clueless), Miriam Shor(Bedazzled), Bryan Callen (MAD TV), Jennifer Irwin(Exit Wounds), Richard Kline (Three's Company)and Fox Sports Net co-worker Van Earl Wright.

        In the sitcom, produced by the sister Twentieth Century Fox Television division, Mr. Frazier and Mr. Wright will comment from the Fox Sports anchor desk on the relationship woes of young sportscaster Adam Schwartz (Mr. Meyer).

        “They asked us to do it because we're on the same (studio) lot. It was a perfect tie-in for them, and the perfect tie-in for us,” Mr. Frazier said.

Sports guy in Hollywood

               The former Channel 19 anchor met Mr. Meyer as a teammate in Hollywood's NBA Entertainment basketball league. “I was pumped when I found out he was the man (series star),” said Mr. Frazier, the son of Nathaniel Frazier, who coached basketball at Illinois, Morgan State and under Willis Reed with the New York Knicks.

        “We shot a pilot. It got picked up (for a series). And the next thing we know, we're doing an NBC show. It's the most unbelieveable thing,” Mr. Frazier said.

        It was great to hear that Mr. Frazier hasn't lost his perspective. Despite six years in L.A., he hasn't gone Hollywood. He had no clue that another teammate, Scott Speedman, was the male heartthrob on WB's Felicity.

        “To me, they were just my basketball buddies. Then my wife, Andrea, and her best friend found out and went crazy,” he said. “I know nothing about Hollywood. I'm a sports guy.”

Doing what he does

               He's been a sports guy working nights, anchoring “The National” on Fox Sports Net for each time zone at 7:30, 8:30, 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. He hasn't had time for Felicity or other prime-time shows.

        Mr. Frazier can appear on Inside Schwartz without leaving the Fox Sports studio. The brief segments — “we're on the show for about 40 seconds” — will be taped at the Fox Sports Net anchor desk.

        “The great thing is, I just do what I do. I'm not an actor. The only way I can be in a sitcom is just to do what I do. I'm a sports guy from Cincinnati who calls Cincinnati basketball games,” he said.

        The New Jersey native considers Cincinnati his professional hometown. He had no formal journalism training when hired in 1993 for Channel 19's start-up news operation.

        He had grown up dreaming of being a basketball coach, like his father. He served two seasons as assistant basketball coach under his father at Morgan State before completing a communications degree n 1989.

Fielding questions

               His first TV job was as a news and sports photographer at WCBD-TV in Charleston, S.C., in 1990. He followed his boss in 1991 to WBFF-TV in Baltimore, as a sports photographer-reporter for a start-up Fox newscast. He blossomed at Channel 19, where he anchored, reported, did UC basketball color commentary and moonlighted as a Fox NFL sidelines reporter.

        He moved to L.A. in 1995 for FX's first sports show, and became part of the inaugural Fox Sports News team in 1996. He has survived the transition to the National Sports Report,and the short-lived pairing with former ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann.

        For Fox Sports Net, he has covered the NHL, NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the NCAA basketball tournament. He has always been a guy who asked the questions. He has never sat at the dais and been quizzed by 150 reporters, which will happen at the summer press tour.

        “That's the funniest thing in the world to me,” he said. “I'm always on the other side, asking the questions. I'm a sports guy who interviews people. I do sports for a living.”

        That could change this fall, when he becomes “Must-See TV.”

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