On a recent episode of ESPN‘s Olbermann, actor Josh Charles reprised his role as Dan Rydell, the character he played on the woefully short run of Sports Night. The episode gets somewhat meta when Keith Olbermann recalls when he and Josh first met.
Keith: Did you ever tell anyone about how we first met on the streets of New York City? Josh: On Sixth Avenue. (imitating Keith) “Hey aren’t you me?” Keith: I saw you coming from three or four blocks away, I’m working up to it and you were chattering away with whoever you were with coming down there. You rarely get to say something like this to someone, but I said to you, “Excuse me but didn’t you used to play me on TV?” And that’s like 15 years ago.
It’s a poorly kept secret that the characters of Dan Rydell and Casey McCall were strongly influenced by SportsCenter during the Keith Olbermann/Dan Patrick years, a fact that was confirmed by show creator Aaron Sorkin during a 1999 Esquire peer interview with Keith called “The Showdown”
Keith: I have heard various stories about the origin of this series. Aaron: You are the origin. I sat in this hotel room for thirteen months writing The American President. To keep me company, I would have SportsCenter on. I’d watch the Big Show four times in a row, and I thought it was the best-written show on television. It turned me into a big-time sports fan. As soon as I was done with The American President, I told [ABC head] Jamie Tarses, “Send me off and let me write a pilot.” I knew it wasn’t a sitcom.
Josh Charles as Dan Rydell channeling Keith Olbermann in “Dan’s Apology“