The Watchman: Network Stars Prep for ‘Battle,’ Amazon Football Series Gets Rammed

ABC revives classic series that ran from 1976-1988

The new season of Battle of the Network Stars starts up June 29 on ABC. Unlike the original series, which pitted network against network, the reboot has 20 teams of five, each team reflecting the celebrities’ TV careers. There’s a TV Kids team, another of TV Sex Symbols and one of Troublemakers.

Executive producer Andrew Glassman says Battle of the Network Stars is hitting America at the right time. “I think we all remember how fun and positive it was,” he said. “It seems like everyone will welcome that now.”

The original Howard Cosell-hosted series ran on ABC from 1976 to 1988. The new show has a number of stars from that era too, including Lisa Whelchel from The Facts of Life, Lou Ferrigno of The Incredible Hulk and Erik Estrada of CHiPS. “It’s TV fantasy camp for people who spend too much time watching television,” Glassman said.

Glassman won’t offer up the top athlete from the new season, but singles out Nolan Gould—Luke Dunphy of Modern Family—for executing a stellar flip. “Some people make it look very easy,” he said of the show’s events. “Some made it look very difficult as they wound up face-first in the grass.”

The Los Angeles Rams ended up face first in the grass during their first season back in L.A. Amazon’s All or Nothing series was there to chronicle every aspect of their 4-12 season, including quarterbacks Case Keenum and Jared Goff battling for the starting spot, and the firing of coach Jeff Fisher. It starts on Prime June 30.

So which do the producers prefer — a winning team or a losing one? “Both make for compelling television,” All or Nothing director Shannon Furman said.

An NFL Films crew followed the Rams from July into January and for 20 games, including preseason, Furman said. The party even ventured to London for a game. “We probably could’ve done a two-hour show just on the London trip,” Furman said.

As with the first season of All or Nothing, which focused on the Arizona Cardinals, Jon Hamm is the narrator. “He’s a great storyteller,” Furman said. “We love the way he fits into the show.”

The show has gotten 4.8 out of 5 stars from 1,431 Amazon voters, making a strong case for All or Nothing to stick around for a few more seasons.

“We hope it becomes a yearly thing,” Furman said.