Joe Buck steps up to HBO plate

Play-by-play announcer replaces Bob Costas

NEW YORK -- HBO Sports is drawing on Emmy-winning Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck to replace Bob Costas at the network.

Buck will host a quarterly talk show for HBO Sports beginning in May. It will replace "Costas Now," which the NBC sportscaster did at HBO for much of the past seven years. Costas left HBO Sports this week to take a new gig at the MLB Network.

Buck is play-by-play announcer for Fox Sports' NFL and Major League Baseball telecasts. That won't change, but he'll add the talk show, which HBO said might include a live town-hall-style format.

HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said he and Buck had been talking for about a year, though they've known each other much longer. The talks grew serious when HBO realized that Costas would leave for MLB Network, and Greenburg said he moved quickly to sign him.

While plans for the show -- including the title -- still have to be worked out, Greenburg said he wants it to display how engaging and funny Buck is.

"I don't know if the American public is aware of it," Greenburg said.

For his part, Buck said he has some talk-show experience with a pilot for Fox Broadcasting as well as talks with the Fox News Channel. But he said that his dream, all along, was to work with HBO.

The 90-minute show will be on four times a year, with the first being in May and then July, September and November.

"We want to be careful with Joe's schedule with Fox," Greenburg said. "He gets a little busy in those September-October months. We'll be mindful of all of that."

Buck paid tribute to his bosses at Fox Sports, chairman David Hill and president Ed Goren, and the belief they had in him. He said he'd like to stray into other topics other than sports, and HBO said there will be comedic elements to the show.

Buck said that his unique access -- 10 World Series and two Super Bowls so far -- provides an opportunity for him to take viewers behind the scenes with a handheld camera.

"I would hope that this is something I can also put together things for their online component, and that to me is as exciting as the show itself," Buck said.

As for the title, Buck said he has a few ideas.

"I have suggested to Ross that we keep the name 'Costas Now,' " Buck joked.