Comedian Dennis Miller returns to sports TV with show on Versus

.NEW YORK (AP) – Dennis Miller recalled Internet polls during his stint on “Monday Night Football” in which half the respondents loved him and the other half hated him.

“I’ll always be a bit of niche guy,” he said, with no apologies.

The comedian is venturing back into sports television, a pairing that evokes memories of his much-talked-about two-year run in the football broadcast booth. “Sports Unfiltered with Dennis Miller,” a talk show on Versus, debuts Tuesday night.

“Some people want Jim Rome,” he said of the combative sports talk show host. “Some people want me.”

In 2000, ABC hired Miller in hopes that his trademark obscure pop culture references would boost ratings. The experience didn’t dampen his passion for sports – he figures he’s one of the few people who have read every edition of Bill James’ “Baseball Abstract” statistical analysis books. Nor did it dull his interest in working in sports television.

Not that he considers the MNF experiment a negative experience, anyway.

“I was proud of my tenure there,” said Miller, who believes his departure had much more to do with the availability of John Madden than with his own performance.

The new program will in many ways be a sports version of his old HBO talk show, “Dennis Miller Live,” which aired from 1994-2002. A typical one-hour episode will include a monologue, two guests and some phone calls from viewers. Miller also will take a page from “The Daily Show” and use a field reporter.

His scheduled guests for Tuesday’s premiere include Curt Schilling.

Miller, who also hosts a syndicated non-sports radio talk show, expects to touch on a variety of sports and issues.