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Bryant Gumbel
Bryant Gumbel at Met Opera.jpg
Born September 29, 1948 (1948-09-29) (age 61)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Occupation Television personality; sports reporter
Spouse(s) 1) June Baranco
2) Hilary Quinlan
Children son and daughter
Notable credit(s) The Today Show
The Early Show

Bryant Charles Gumbel (born September 29, 1948) is a American television journalist and sportscaster. He is best known for his 15 years as co-host of NBC's The Today Show. He is the younger brother of sportscaster Greg Gumbel.




Early life

Gumbel was born in New Orleans, the son of Rhea Alice (née LeCesne), a city clerk, and Richard Dunbar Gumbel, a judge.[1] He graduated from Bates College in 1970. Gumbel began his television career in October 1972, when he was made a sportscaster for KNBC-TV out of Los Angeles.

Professional career

NBC Sports

Gumbel was hired by NBC Sports in the fall of 1975 as co-host of its National Football League pre-game show GrandStand with Jack Buck. From 1975 until January 1982 (when he left to do The Today Show) Gumbel hosted numerous sporting events for NBC including Major League Baseball, college basketball and the National Football League. Gumbel returned to sportscasting for NBC when he hosted the prime time coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics from Seoul and the PGA Tour in 1990.

One of Gumbel's more memorable moments during his time at NBC Sports occurred in 1982, when he was on-site for the now legendary "Epic in Miami" NFL playoff game between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins. At the end of the game, Gumbel told the viewing audience "If you didn't like this football game then you didn't like football!"


Gumbel began his affiliation with Today as the program's chief sports reporter contributing twice-weekly features to the program, including a regular series entitled "Sportsman of the Week," featuring up-and-coming athletes. In June 1981, NBC announced that Tom Brokaw would depart Today to anchor the NBC Nightly News with Roger Mudd beginning in the spring of 1982. The search for Brokaw's replacement was on, and the initial candidates were all NBC News correspondents, including John Palmer, Chris Wallace, Bob Kur, Bob Jamieson, and Jessica Savitch. The candidates auditioned for Brokaw's job throughout the summer of 1981 when Brokaw was on vacation. Gumbel became a candidate for the job just by chance when he served as a last-minute substitute for Today co-anchor Jane Pauley in August 1981. Gumbel so impressed executive producer Steve Friedman and other NBC executives that he quickly became a top contender for the Today anchor position.[citation needed]

While Friedman and other NBC executives favored Gumbel as Brokaw's replacement, another contingent within the NBC News division felt strongly that Brokaw should be replaced by a fellow news correspondent, not a sports reporter. Chris Wallace was the favored candidate of then-NBC News president Bill Small. NBC News decided to split the difference, selecting Gumbel as the program's anchor and Wallace as the Washington-based anchor. Jane Pauley would remain co-anchor in New York. Brokaw signed off of Today on December 18, 1981, and Gumbel replaced Brokaw on January 4, 1982.

The Gumbel-Pauley-Wallace arrangement, known internally as the "Mod Squad," lasted only nine months. It was an arrangement that proved intriguing on paper but unwieldy on television. Gumbel served as the show's traffic cop, opening and closing the program and conducting New York-based interviews, but Pauley and Wallace handled newsreading duties, and Wallace conducted all Washington-based hard news interviews. With ABC's Good Morning America in first place and expanding its lead, NBC News made Gumbel the principal anchor of Today beginning September 27, 1982, with Jane Pauley as his co-anchor. Wallace became chief White House correspondent covering President Reagan, and John Palmer, previously a White House correspondent, became Today's New York-based news anchor.

Gumbel and Pauley had a challenging first two years together as Today anchors as they sought to find a rhythm as a team. Good Morning America solidified its lead over Today in the ratings during the summer of 1983, and Pauley's departure for maternity leave sent Today into a ratings tailspin. But when Pauley returned in February 1984, she and Gumbel began to work well together as a team. NBC took Today on the road in the fall of '84, sending Gumbel to the Soviet Union for an unprecedented series of live broadcasts from Moscow. Gumbel won plaudits for his performance in Moscow, erasing any doubts about his hard-news capabilities. That Moscow trip began a whirlwind period of travel for Today. Remote broadcasts from Vietnam, Vatican City, Europe, South America, and much of the United States followed between 1984 and 1989. Today began to regain its old ratings dominance against Good Morning America throughout 1985, and by early 1986, the NBC program was once again atop the ratings.

In 1989, Gumbel, who was already known for his strong management style as Today anchor, wrote a memo to Today executive producer Marty Ryan, on Ryan's request, critiquing the program and identifying its shortcomings. Many of Gumbel's criticisms were directed at fellow Today staffers. This memo was leaked to the press. In the memo, Gumbel commented that Willard Scott, "holds the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste...This guy is killing us and no one's even trying to rein him in". He commented that Gene Shalit's movie reviews "are often late and his interviews aren't very good."[2]

There was enough negative backlash in regard to Gumbel's comments toward Scott, that Gumbel was shown making up with Scott on Today.[3]

Following Jane Pauley's departure from Today in December 1989, Gumbel was joined by Deborah Norville in a short-lived partnership that lasted just over a year. Today dropped to second place in the ratings during this period as a result of intensely negative publicity surrounding Norville's replacement of Pauley, and Gumbel's feud with Scott. Norville was replaced by Katie Couric in April 1991, and the Gumbel-Couric team helped refocus Today as the morning news program of choice during the 1992 presidential campaign. The program returned to first place in the ratings in December 1995.

Gumbel's work on Today earned him several Emmys and a large group of fans. He is the second longest serving co-host of Today, serving 2 months less than Couric. Gumbel stepped down from the show on January 3, 1997 after 15 years.

The Early Show

After leaving the Today Show and Dateline NBC in 1997, Gumbel moved to CBS, where he hosted various shows before becoming co-host of the network's morning show The Early Show on November 1, 1999. Gumbel left The Early Show (and CBS that same year) in May 2002.

Boy Scouts

A CBS camera caught a disgusted Bryant Gumbel blurting out "What a fucking idiot" just after he finished a hostile interview with Robert Knight of the Family Research Council (FRC). The incident occurred at about 7:15 a.m. ET on Thursday, June 29, 2000 following Knight's appearance to defend the Boy Scout policy of excluding gays from being leaders. The Media Research Center reported that he uttered those words; Gumbel openly admitted to saying so when guest-hosting a June 2007 episode of Live with Regis and Kelly.[4]

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

Gumbel has concentrated most of his energy recently on his duties as host of HBO's acclaimed investigative series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (a show that he has hosted since 1995). HBO's web page claims that Real Sports has been described as "flat out TV's best sports program" by the Los Angeles Times.[5] Also according to HBO, Real Sports has earned 15 sports Emmys, and a 2006 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for broadcast journalism, the first time in the award's history that it was given to a sports program.[6] The award was for a story called "The Sport of Sheikhs", an investigation into the exploitation of children as camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates.

Paul Tagliabue

On the August 15, 2006 episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Gumbel made the following remarks about former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Players' Union president Gene Upshaw and directed these comments to new commissioner Roger Goodell:

Before he cleans out his office have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash. By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor has kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch.

In response, Tagliabue said, "What Gumbel said about Gene Upshaw and our owners is about as irresponsible as anything I've heard in a long time." [7] Gumbel's response was "It's a lot like covering any story [...] You see what is in front of you and you report on it."[citation needed]

The Weather Man

Gumbel made a cameo appearance alongside Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine in The Weather Man, a film directed by Gore Verbinski. In the film, Gumbel co-hosts a morning show entitled Hello America for which Cage's character, a depressed weatherman, auditions.

The NFL Network

In April 2006, the NFL Network announced that Gumbel, along with Cris Collinsworth and Dick Vermeil, would commentate on its new package of NFL games. Unlike his brother Greg, Bryant had never called play-by-play[8][9] for live sporting events in his career. Before his first game commentary for the network, Gumbel's status was brought into question after he stirred up controversy in his closing remarks on his HBO program on August 15, 2006, in which he criticized NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw and outgoing NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Gumbel would later reconcile with the NFL and has retained his play-by-play job with the NFL Network.[10] On December 29, 2007, Gumbel had a reunion of sorts as he called the Patriots-Giants game on the NFL Network, CBS, and NBC. This is the first 3-network simulcast NFL game and coincidentally Gumbel has worked for all three networks during his career.

Gumbel resigned as play-by-play announcer in April 2008, prior to the 2008 NFL season. He would be replaced on the NFL Network telecasts by Bob Papa.

Personal life

Bryant Gumbel said in court that he would pay his estranged wife, June Gumbel, $31,000 per month, plus expenses for their two children, USA Today reported. Gumbel's offer came after his estranged wife asked a Westchester (NY) Supreme Court judge to order the news anchor to give her $4,000 a week in emergency financial relief, saying that she was practically destitute and Gumbel had not given her enough money, according to the USA Today column "News & Views" by columnist Jeannie Williams. Mrs. Gumbel, who had no savings and could not pay her bills, had been receiving only $250 a month from Gumbel. By 2000 Gumbel, former "Today" show anchor, reportedly earned $5 million annually and lived with his current girlfriend, Hilary Quinlan, USA Today reported.[citation needed] The Gumbels had been married for 26 years. They met when June was a flight attendant and Gumbel "had a broken down pair of sneakers" and was looking for work, USA Today reported. The Early Show anchor would remarry to Hilary Quinlan, who moved from Chicago to New York to be with him.[citation needed]

According to June Gumbel, "People just accept infidelity from celebrities like it's OK or fashionable—I think it's disgusting", she said. "I don't think you can have happiness with someone else on the pain you've caused your family."[citation needed]


On December 8, 2009, Bryant Gumbel announced that he had cancer surgery two months earlier to remove a malignant tumor near his lung. The announcement came on Live! with Regis and Kelly, with Gumbel filling in for Regis Philbin, who was recuperating from successful hip replacement surgery.[11]


In popular culture


External links

Preceded by
Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley
Today Show Host with Jane Pauley from 1982 to 1989, with Deborah Norville from 1990 to 1991 and with Katie Couric from 1991 to 1997
January 4, 1982–January 3, 1997
Succeeded by
Katie Couric and Matt Lauer
Preceded by
Jim McKay
American television prime time anchor, Summer Olympic Games
1980 (with Dick Enberg)
Succeeded by
Bob Costas
Preceded by
First play-by-play commentator
NFL Network play-by-play commentator
Succeeded by
Bob Papa


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Bryant Gumbel (born 29 September 1948) is a popular television show host.


  • "This comes at a time when Republicans are looking to gut the Clean Water Act and also the Safe Drinking Water Act. What are our options? Are we now forced to boil water because bottled water is not an economically feasible option for a lot of people?"
-- To Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer Erik Olson, June 1, 1995 Today. Real Video
  • "Largely as a result of the policies and priorities of the Reagan administration, more people are becoming poor and staying poor in this country than at any time since World War II."
-- July 17, 1989 Today Real Video
  • "White people love Wayne Brady, because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X"
-- Chappelle's Show, Prophesised by "Negrodamus"
  • "And Kathleen Willey also spoke about Linda Tripp, a Clinton-basher who seems to be at every ugly turn in this controversy. Tripp was outside the Oval Office when Willey emerged from her encounter with the President. Just how is it that Linda Tripp is so often conveniently involved in the President’s troubles? For some clues let’s bring in The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, who has profiled the controversial Miss Tripp in this week’s issue. You write that co-workers often viewed her as an inveterate busybody. Has she always been a snoop and a gossip with a particular interest in other people’s romantic lives?"
-- On Public Eye, March 17, 1998. Real Video
  • "The bottom line is more tax money is going to be needed. Just how much will be the primary issue on the agenda when Congressional leaders meet with the President later today, Wednesday, May the 9th, 1990. And good morning, welcome to Today. It’s a Wednesday morning, a day when the budget picture, frankly, seems gloomier than ever. It now seems the time has come to pay the fiddler for our costly dance of the Reagan years."
-- Leading off Today, May 9, 1990. Real Video
  • "In the first two years this is a man [Clinton] who tried his best to balance the budget, to reform health care, to fight for gay rights, to support personal freedoms. Couldn’t those be considered doing the right things, evidence of true character?"
-- To David Maraniss, MSNBC’s InterNight, October 10, 1996. Real Video
  • "We keep looking for some good to come out of this. Maybe it might help in putting race relations back on the front burner after they’ve been subjugated so long as a result of the Reagan years."
-- On the Los Angeles riots, April 30, 1992, Today. Real Video
  • "Scott, as you and I both know, a popular move these days is to make a titillating charge and then have the media create the frenzy. Given Kenneth Starr’s track record, should we suspect that he’s trying to do with innuendo that which he has been unable to do with evidence?"
-- To CBS News reporter Scott Pelley, January 21, 1998, Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel. Real Video
  • "If I’m a young black man in South Central L.A., where poverty is rampant and unemployment is skyrocketing, I see that Washington’s promises of a year ago have gone unfulfilled, I see that perhaps for a second time, the court’s inability to mete out justice in a blind fashion, why shouldn’t I vent my anger?"
-- To U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), April 15, 1993, Today. Real Video
  • "We've got an awful lot to talk about this week, including the sexual harassment suit against the President. Of course, in that one, it’s a little tough to figure out who’s really being harassed."
-- Today, May 10, 1994. Real Video


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