'Burn' Out at ESPN

New York Post, September 4, 2007 -- The final episode of "The Bronx is Burning" could also spell the end of actors on ESPN.

At least for a while, according to reports. Officials of the sports network said over the weekend that it has no more scripted shows in the pipeline and will return fulltime to its traditional pursuits - games and sports news.

The eight-part miniseries on the Yankee's improbable 1977 season - set against the backdrop of a contentious mayoral campaign and the Son of Sam murders - was an unqualified success for the channel. The final episode aired last Tuesday.

But it appears the money and effort it takes to mount a scripted show is just too much.

"I'm a little less interested in the intersection of where entertainment and sports combine," John Skipper, who as executive vp content for ESPN is in charge of content, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Other of ESPN's actors-as-athletes shows did not fare as well as "The Bronx."

The network was pressured into dropping "Playmakers" - about a riotous but fictional pro football team - after one season after the NFL complained about players being depicted taking steroids and abusing women.

Other scripted shows were just plain bad.

Bio movies about Pete Rose (starring Tom Sizemore) and Bobby Knight (Brian Dennehy) were both ratings and critical bombs.

A movie about Vince Lombardi has been in the works at ESPN for several years, according to reports. And it will stay in limbo for the foreseeable future, officials say.