TONY POTTS: I Love This TV Screw-up: ‘Cuz I’ve Done It (Although Not Quit This Cluelessly)


There was a quite an internet kerfuffle the other day after a New Orleans news anchor had no clue who she was interviewing. Wait, she did have a slight clue, in that the guy she was interviewing live on television had just won the Rock N’ Roll New Orleans Half-Marathon. What she failed to realize is that he is also WORLD FAMOUS for winning TWO OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS at the London Olympics last summer.


Yep, you remember Mo Farah, right? He was all over the media around the world after his incredible story and two thrilling medal wins.

Well, watch as LaTonya Norton, an anchor for the New Orleans TV station WDSU, interviews Farah and asks, “Have you run before?”. He’s very gracious with his answer. He could have pulled out the whoopin’ stick and said, “Yeah…I won two Olympic Gold Medals last summer in London. Ever heard of London? Ever heard of the Olympics? I’ve got your half-marathon, you’re French Quarter and your beignets right here anchor lady-person!!”

But he didn’t. In fact, after Norton received a helluva backlash, Farah tweeted out to his more than 780,000 followers :

“Just wanna say to everyone being nasty to LaTonya Norton please stop!! She made a mistake like we all do!! She didn’t mean anything by it!”
Once, live on the air, I made an embarrassing mistake. Actually, I’ve made my share of mistake, but early in my career as a sports anchor, I called soon to be baseball Hall of Fame member, Mike Schmidt –Mike Shit. It was a minor mis-pronunciation.
When I was hosting a live show in NY for Fox back in the 90s, the next story was deleted from the prompter and went to a tease that I had not seen and I read it as, “Coming Up, The Great Lettuce…” when it was supposed to be, “Coming Up, The Great Lutece…” Lutece was, at the time, an incredibly famous New York City restaurant. It had been around for 34 years when I butchered the name! My New York friends loved me for that one.
About six or seven years ago at Elton John’s Annual Oscar Party, I ran into actor James Woods. I had just seen Woods and his very young, statuesque and beautiful fiance a number of weeks earlier at the Golden Globe Awards. At the Globes, he announced to me and the world that they had just become engaged. They were so happy.
Fast-forward to the Oscars and Elton’s party a few weeks later and I run into them. So, naturally I say hello and congratulate them again on their engagement. As I start to say the word “congratulations” I notice his eyes narrow and he shakes his head ever so slightly as if to tell me, “nope…don’t say that.” Now, in a nano-second, I think he may be shaking his head at someone else. Remember, this is a huge Oscar party. It’s noisy. Tons of partiers. Plus, people in Hollywood are always looking past you when they talk to you to see if there is someone better coming along. It happens.
Well, this wasn’t the case.
I then proceeded to ask, “So, when is the big date?” When I finished that sentence, I could tell something was amiss. His fiance looked uncomfortable. Hmm…she was so charming at the Globes. Woods looked at me and said, “Tony, you’re a funny guy.”
I’m like, “I’m a funny guy?” while my brain is whirring trying to figure what the hell just happened.
Thinking he didn’t quite hear me, I asked about the wedding date again.
Apparently, he heard me the first time. They both did. Ooops!
“Gotta go Tony. Nice talkin’ to ya’ pal” Woods said as he grabbed his fiance’s hand and abruptly left.
I turned to my producer and said, “What the hell was that?”
My producer didn’t know either.
Suddenly, as I turned around, I noticed someone eager to talk with me. It was a publicist.
Turns out, that WASN’T James Woods’ fiance. The engagement and relationship was no more. I shit you not, the two women looked exactly the same. They could have been sisters. Turns out they weren’t related. The only thing they had in common was James Woods.  I was shocked and actually felt a little foolish.
I went up to Woods when his gal wasn’t around and said, “Man, sorry about that, but they look teh same to me.”
He was gracious and said, “I could tell you didn’t know. It’s ok.”
So, the net-net is that s#!* happens. All the time. Thankfully his fiance hadn’t won two Olympic gold medals!
Here’s the “Farah Kerfuffle” as it happened live.

One thought on “TONY POTTS: I Love This TV Screw-up: ‘Cuz I’ve Done It (Although Not Quit This Cluelessly)

  1. I appreciate Mo’s graciousness and I concede that mistakes happen. But did Ms. Norton do absolutely no preparation for this interview? Could she have talked to one of the station’s sports reporters? Could one of the producers have clued her in beforehand? Is this her very first rodeo, so to speak? Se didn’t appear to be a cub reporter fresh out of school. It seems that she owed her viewers and her subject a whole lot more preparation and respect than she showed.

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