April 10, 2014 6:00am PT by Michael O'Connell
ESPN's Tony Reali Named 'Good Morning America' Contributor in New Deal (Exclusive)
Nobody is pushing the mute button on Tony Reali. The ESPN personality, who's brandished the Around the Horn silencer as host of the panel series since 2004, has re-upped his deal with the cable network -- and scored a regular gig on Good Morning America in the process.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Reali's latest extension has given him the role of contributor on corporate sibling ABC's morning flagship. Reali will move from Washington, D.C., to his native New York later this year, where Around the Horn will get a new Times Square space close to his GMA studio. Reali joins GMA as its first social media contributor and will appear in its recently unveiled "Social Square" to engage viewers online.
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His addition to the GMA team comes in the wake of two big departures -- weatherman Sam Champion and news anchor Josh Elliott -- and the hiring of Michael Strahan. Reali's broadcasting career has thus far consisted of covering sports exclusively; he joined ESPN in 2000 as a writer and researcher for quiz show Two Minute Drill.
"I love sports and I love ESPN, but there's a lot outside of sports that I like, too," Reali tells THR. "Just the chance to have one foot in and one foot out is a dream."
“Tony brings great energy, passion and creativity to his work, and he’s a big reason for Around the Horn’s success the past 10 years,” said ESPN executive vp production John Wildhack. “We’re pleased he will continue as host of this signature ESPN show and have the chance to do even more as a contributor to ABC on GMA.”
Reaili, who sat down with ABC News president (and future Disney/ABC TV group president) Ben Sherwood before signing on for GMA, says they're still working out how often he'll appear on the series -- though he anticipates two or three days a week.
As for his new arena, Reali is paying attention to other social media coverage and its criticism, and will be taking cues on how he uses it on Around the Horn. "We're still feeling out exactly what it is," he says. "In some ways, it can resemble a sixth-grade cafeteria -- and in other cases, it's a master's course in college where you can see different perspectives."
One place viewers won't see Reali any longer is on Around the Horn companion series Pardon the Interruption. His move to New York means that his involvement on the latter series, where he's served as "Stat Boy" for hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon since 2001, will be coming to an end.
"There's no other way to put it -- it feels like you're leaving the nest," says Reali. "It's where I got my start. I owe so much to them. They've been mentors."
Reali is repped by CAA's Nick Khan and Michael Price of Price Management.