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Posted: Tuesday June 16, 2009 9:04AM; Updated: Tuesday June 16, 2009 2:43PM
Richard Deitsch Richard Deitsch >
MEDIA CIRCUS

Joe Buck, HBO respond to wild Artie Lange appearance

Story Highlights

Artie Lange quickly turned his segment into a verbal fight with Joe Buck

Things became more vulgar and tense on a post-show segment

HBO sports president said Lange "bordered on bad taste"

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Comedian Artie Lange gave Joe Buck more than he could handle Monday night on the first episode of "Joe Buck Live."
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

NEW YORK -- Artie Lange began his assault in the green room. It was 30 minutes before his segment on Joe Buck Live at the Equitable Center Theater in midtown Manhattan and Lange was searching for victims. First up was Brett Favre. During Buck's opening segment with the retired-for-the-moment quarterback, Lange offered a critique of Favre's comic timing: "Hey, it's Brett Dangerfield," Lange said. When William Bastone, editor of TheSmokingGun.com, appeared on camera for a taped segment, Lange declared, "Now I know what he looks like. Don't ever sleep, Bastone!" Lange laughed hysterically at Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain's DUI arrest video and joked with an HBO producer moments before going on the air, "Do you have any blow?"

But The Howard Stern Show comic saved his sharpest bite for the stage as part of a panel featuring actor Paul Rudd and Saturday Night Live cast member Jason Sudeikis. The scheduled subject was sports and celebrity but quickly turned into a battle of wills between Lange and the host. When Buck joked that his favorite Web site was TMZ.com, Lange pounced. He asked Buck, "What's your second favorite?" and then created his own URL involving a sex act that we can't print here. The onslaught never stopped. "Is that it?' Lange asked, near the end of the show. "Because that's what the president of HBO will be telling you soon."

After the live show ended, Buck and the panel continued with a 10-minute segment for the studio audience. It was raunchy and tense. When Buck said the last segment was coming to an end, Lange cracked, "Dude, this is your last segment...ever." NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who was a guest in earlier segment with Chad Ochocinco, summed it up best: "It's just refreshing to see white-on-white crime," Irvin said.

Buck said after the show that he was aware of Lange's comedy "but I didn't think it would go to that degree. But I don't want it to ruin what I think was a really good show. For whatever happened [with Lange], live is live. There were things said at the end that I am not fan of but people can judge what Artie said however they want."

Before Lange left the stage, Buck said Lange asked him, "Was I good? Was that great?" "That's his M.O.," Buck said. "That's what he believed he was brought here to do. And, you know, he can. He's a guest and it's live TV. At some point short of hitting a trap door, what are you going to do?... He came out and did his thing. I can't blame him for that but I wish it was a notch lower. I was thinking, 'How much longer do we have in the segment?' I thought that spending time on a treadmill felt long, but that [segment] was eight or nine minutes turned into an eternity."

Lange walked off the stage to mostly applause. As he departed the stage, he said, "Waaagggh. I'll never be on here again." Prior to the show in talking with a reporter who asked him about throwing out a first pitch at a minor league game in Trenton soon, Lange cracked, "I'm going to be thrown out the first minute here."

HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said Lange "bordered on bad taste" and had a "mean-spirited" tone. Greenburg said the segment made him uncomfortable at times, but he hoped that the Favre interview (which Buck handled very well) would be the story that carried the day. "This feels like they are not going to be too complementary to his [Lange's] appearance, just judging from the reaction of the crowd. But it really is the public's judgment. Live television is all about risk-reward and we knew who Artie Lange was when he was booked. There was a certain degree of a risk factor where he would go and where he would take us."

On Tuesday's Stern show, Lange claimed that Greenburg told him if Rudd and Sudeikis were boring, he should "go nuts." He then called Greenburg a series of unpublishable names.

Buck said he had not met Lange prior to a quick meeting in the green room ("Don't suck," Buck said to his guests prior to heading on stage for the start of the show.) "We didn't book him to be crude or walk and cross some line," Buck said. "We booked him because he's a funny guy and somebody who loves sports. It's up to any guest on a live show to take it where they want to take it. He decided to take it where he took it."

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