Lisa Guerrero is without a doubt the most visible female sports broadcaster working in television today. Guerrero currently works for "FOX Sports Net" as the National Sports Reporter Update Anchor and on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" doing 40 minutes of highlights and updates each week night in each time zone. As if that isn't enough, the hardworking Guerrero also reports for "FOX Extra Innings" and "FOX Overtime" on KTTV-FOX 11 in Los Angeles. Finally, the only woman to single-handedly host an NFL teams' magazine show, Guerrero has just completed her second year as host of "Charger's Magazine."
Sports has always been a focus of Guerrero's life. The stunning brunette spent her childhood attending sporting events with her father and brother so it was quite natural for Guerrero to begin her career with a 4 year stint as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Rams. She then moved on to Entertainment Director of the Atlanta Falcons (The only female to hold that position in the team's history). Guerrero also held similar positions with the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.
However, it didn't take long for Hollywood to spot Lisa who eventually landed a gig on the NBC's daytime drama "Sunset Beach." Remarkable, Guerrero played the evil Francesca Vargas for a year while also covering sports for "Sports Central" on KCBS. The multi-talented Guerrero has also made guest starring roles on "Frasier," "Cybill" and "In The Heat Of The Night." Although these days Guerrero has decided to put all her energy into sports reporting she still has a loyal following of fans from her work on "Sunset Beach."
The following is an up close and extremely candid chat with the most beautiful and talented sports reporter's you'll ever see..John Madden eat your heart out!
Chauncé Hayden: You're getting tons of visibility from your gig on "Best Damn Sports Show Period."
Lisa Guerrero Coles: Oh yeah! And it's going to get even better. The show is on constantly. It airs at 7:30 at night, then at 11:30 at night, and then they re-air it in the morning. So all together it's six hours a day of programming, and I'm on every 11 minutes doing my sports report.
What kind of feedback have you been getting?
Incredible feedback. The weird thing is that I've been working for years as a sports reporter in Southern California, but nationally nobody has ever seen me as a sports anchor calling the shots on the highlights. (Laughs) So I think people are really surprised, because they're just not used to seeing somebody who looks like me doing sports! At first, people were scratching their heads, wondering if I was a model just pretending to be a sports reporter.
Well, since Tom Arnold is one of the show's hosts, you can't blame people for wondering whether or not you're for real.
Trust me, it's for real! I write my own leads and I'm a real sports reporter. I do have an acting background, but I left acting a couple of years ago to see what would happen if I followed my opportunities in sports.
Are you really a sports fan?
I'm a huge sports fan!
It's becoming common now to see beautiful women as news and sports announcers.
Well, if you think about it, television is a visual medium. That's why every single male broadcaster sits in hair and make-up for at least a half hour to 45 minutes before they go on the air. They just don't throw them on the air with nothing. Everybody understands the importance of the fact that it's television and it's visual. Especially now that we have so many channels and we tend to flip around so much, one of the things that stops you is the visual. You see something before you hear it and absorb it.
Yeah, but look at John Madden and Terry Bradshaw. There's nothing pretty about those guys, yet they're on television talking about sports. I don't think you would see a woman of comparative looks talking about sports on TV.
I agree. But looks are a double-edged sword. They can get you in the door, but they can also cause people to wonder if you're credible. That's the toughest thing to fight. When the network was first asking people what they thought of "Best Damn Sports Show," they got comments like, "We really like the girl, but who's telling her what to say?" They didn't believe that I knew sports. But I can't fake it. I couldn't do live updates every 11 minutes across the country and fake it. I have to know my hockey and my basketball. I have to know my pronunciations. I mean, I have to know all the coaches and the Czech Republic guys. You can't even just read it off the teleprompter, because you still would have to know how to pronounce their names. You really have to know it.
There's one player for the Pittsburgh Steelers whose name seems virtually impossible to pronounce.
(Laughs) Oh, you mean Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala!
[Writers note: Just for the record, Guerrero got it right]
How many times did you have to practice that name in front of the mirror?
(Laughs) What I do is sit on the computer and study the pronunciation guides they give us. That helps all of us get it right.
I understand you started out as a cheerleader.
(Yells) That was 15 years ago! And after cheerleading, I went on to acting, so I wouldn't say cheerleading had anything to do with sports. That was just something I kind of did in college. Since then, I went on to do straight broadcasting, acting, and now sports broadcasting.
Admit it, having great looks when you're a woman can really help you get started.
The looks thing can hurt you and help you. It certainly helps when you're trying to get interviews. Just like a former Syracuse player who's now a broadcaster will call on his Syracuse boys as an Alum! You use what you can to get interviews or to stand out from the crowd. Especially if you're in the Lakers locker room where there are 50 members of the media crammed into a small locker room and you're trying to get one on one with Kobe Bryant or Shaq.
I'm sure you stand out in any locker room.
Well, it's easier at first. But then, does the player take you seriously and answer your questions? Then you're fighting the next battle.
Do you find athletes have trouble accepting you as a legit reporter?
Yeah, until I ask the first tough question.
"Dude, you went one for four today. What's the deal?" or "What's with getting pulled out of the game in the second inning?" Once you start asking the serious questions, they have to make an adjustment to you. They quickly realize that I'm a real reporter asking real questions. I'm not from E! Entertainment News.
So are the players naked while you're interviewing them?
You see guys like Shaq and Patrick Ewing completely naked?
Have you ever had an experience where an athlete purposely makes sure you see him naked?
There have been women sports reporters for over two decades, so it's nothing new for today's athlete. I've never had a bad experience in terms of naked guys.
I can't imagine that you're surrounded by 7-foot-tall naked men and it's not a little intimidating for you.
I'm under such a tight time constraint that there's really no time to think about it. After the game I have to interview whoever I can get, and then I have to get my tape to the network within 5 to 6 minutes from the time I get into the locker room. So I'm running all over the locker room with my cameraman, begging for interviews, trying to get the best interview I can. So I don't have the time or the interest or the energy to think of anything but getting my work on the air that night. That's just the way it is. People would love to glamorize it and think it is what it isn't. But frankly, if you're going to be in this business for more than a week, you better get your features and your post-game interviews on the air and they better be good.
Didn't you once make Dennis Rodman cry?
(Laughs) That's right! Wasn't that crazy? That was when I was working part time at the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles.
Dennis showed up so late for this press conference, and at the time I was working on a soap opera during the week and part time as a sports reporter. On my lunch break I had gone to cover this press conference. And because he was late, he was going to make me late for work! So I was really upset. I thought, "What a selfish jerk!" Then he finally came in with his entourage, just spouting obscenities. In fact, he said right off the top "I don't have an announcement to make. I only held this press conference to see if you guys would show up." So I kind of went off on him.
What was it you said that made Rodman cry?
Right before I asked my question, he said that if he did sign with the Lakers, he wouldn't be a distraction to the team. So I stood up and said, "Excuse me? You're already a distraction to the team! You're not even signed yet and you've been waffling for three weeks whether or not you will eventually sign with the team. Meanwhile, it's become a distraction on the court for the players. It's all they ever get asked about. You're a distraction, you're selfish, and you caused everybody here to be 45 minutes late for the rest of their day, and all you're doing is talking about masturbating with Carmen Electra when we want to get real sports information. You are by far the most selfish athlete I've ever seen." Then he started to bawl!
What did you think after he started to cry?
I couldn't believe I said that out loud. I ranted! I didn't know the media that well, and I'm sure they didn't know me. I had on a little pink suit, and I'm sure everyone thought I was some entertainment reporter. Everybody was just stunned when I first said it. Including me. He was even stunned. He just started crying.
When you saw the tears coming, what were your first thoughts?
I felt bad. My first reaction was, "I caused somebody to cry." That wasn't my intent as a reporter, or in life in general. So my first instinct was, "Oh no, I hurt somebody." But afterwards, I knew that I said what everybody else in that room was thinking but didn't want to say. Basically, I was just communicating what I felt. For him to cry was strange, but it led to a story in Sports Illustrated and an article in the Los Angeles Times. All of a sudden people knew who I was, but that wasn't my intent.
You should send Rodman a "thank you for the tears" note.
I know! Seriously! At the time, that was the biggest story in sports! It was just stunning!
You have to report on all sports. But be honest, which sports do you find really boring?
Golf. I'm not a golf fan. I've golfed before, but to watch it on television and to report on it is really boring. Of course, there's always the Tiger Woods or Bob Daly stories. The human interest side of it is interesting to me. But to cover the tournaments is just boring. The leader boards just bore me to death. I certainly wouldn't want to be part of the broadcast team. Not even if it was the Masters.
Are you a fan of women's sports?
Well obviously, some of the women's sports are the most popular things on television. I mean, look at ice skating and gymnastics and women's tennis. There's very little that comes close to the drama and the ratings as those three sports.
But wouldn't you agree that the networks are really just selling sex when it comes to women's sports?
That's your perspective on it. My take on it isn't that they're selling sex. For example, in ice skating, the costumes and the beauty and the grace of it is part of what you get scored on. Frankly, the glitter and the glitz in that sport is all part of the showmanship and presentation, which is what the participants are scored on. But I do agree that when it comes to Anna Kournikova, it makes me laugh that people are interested in her. (Laughs) But you have to give her credit for making the most of what she's got! I mean, excluding doubles, she's never won anything on her own!
How do you get along with other women?
I'm in a strange situation. I was on an Aaron Spelling soap opera for a year called "Sunset Beach," which is now off the air. But you know how loyal women are when it comes to their soap operas! I'll be at a restaurant with my boyfriend and a couple will come up and say they have a bet. He'll say, "You're Lisa Guerrero from sports, but she thinks you're Francesca from soaps. But you're Lisa, right?" So a lot of women remember me from the soap opera and they have a totally different perspective of me. To them, I'm a soap opera vixen! But to the guys, I'm the chick who does sports! It's funny. But for the most part, I deal 99 percent of the time with men. I don't work with a lot of women in my environment. But I'm very comfortable around men. My mom died when I was little and I don't have any sisters, but I have two brothers and a dad, so I was raised by guys in a sports environment. So I'm more comfortable around men than women.
What's your opinion of Mike Tyson?
My first instinct is to feel really, really sorry for him. My second instinct is to feel really, really angry toward him. He's got two rape allegations against him right now. This is a person who is a rapist. He's gone to jail for it.
Is it possible he's being set up by women who know it's a slam-dunk law suit?
Yeah, but ultimately you can never go back to blaming the victim. You can't. It's the man's responsibility to behave in a way that doesn't hurt others, regardless of who those others are or why they're in those circumstances or if they have ulterior motives. The ultimate responsibility is on Mike Tyson. It really bothers me when people start pointing the fingers at the women. It's about the person who did the deed and that person is a rapist. Bottom line is Mike Tyson is a convicted felon.
Should he be allowed to box?
Of course you realize that will never happen because of the money so many people stand to make from a Mike Tyson fight.
Yeah, but the funny about the money is this, they would pay money to see two men fight in the ring to the death. People will pay money for anything. People can make a lot of money producing snuff films! Does that make it right?
Let's talk about Dennis Miller. There's no way you can tell me you think he's doing a good job on "Monday Night Football."
I think that he is an entertainer. The bottom line is "Monday Night Football" is an entertainment show. The fact that we're talking about it is a credit to the people who hired him. The more people talk about your show, the more people are going to watch it. Dennis Miller is what he is. He's a comic who's a commentator.
You're being very diplomatic.
I'm a huge fan of Dennis Miller.
You really don't find his comments during a football game a little annoying?
I guess I don't. I find his perspective interesting. He's very intelligent and he does know football. Does he distract from the game? Yeah, sometimes. But in general, I find him entertaining. That's his job. He's not the play-by-play guy or the football analyst. His job is to see the game from the fan's perspective and move things along and to quip. He's good at that.
What's your most embarrassing moment as a sports reporter?
There have been so many times, especially when I first started. But I would say the most embarrassing thing is trying to get interviews and not getting them, or not getting respect enough from the athlete that he'll talk to you. I remember every day waking up and hoping that I wouldn't get embarrassed and that I'd get the right people to talk to me. But I can't think of anything that's happened live on camera that was really embarrassing. (Laughs) I never fell down or said anything really stupid ... that I'll admit!
Do you have stories in your head of scandalous things involving athletes that go on off the playing field that would shock the world if we knew about them?
Yes! Many! In the seven years I've done this, I have enough stories to fill a book! As a field reporter, I covered the Lakers, USC basketball, USC Football, and the Dodgers all at the same time. And I saw stuff on a weekly basis that people would not believe! Either from the rest of the media, the athletes, the coaches, or the people from P.R. or the people within the sports departments I worked for. I mean I saw crazy stuff!
How prevalent is infidelity among professional athletes, from what you've seen?
I'm in Los Angeles, which is the mecca for entertainment. Star status creates a strange mindset. If you think you're a star and you think you can get away with anything and you think you can get anyone, then that creates a different kind of universe than the rest of us live in.
As a woman, are you offended by the athletes who you know cheat on their wives?
Of course. Just as it would bother me if a friend of mine was cheating on his wife. Infidelity exists in sports and in entertainment and with regular people. It's bad. I mean, I think it's horrible.
But when you're interviewing an athlete and you know he's not a great guy off the field, does it affect the way you interview him?
I try not to let that affect me. It's not my job to report what they do in their private lives unless they're hurting people or raping people or things to that degree. I'm not going to report that they're cheating on their wife. I have to focus on their performance as an athlete and their relationship with the team. But if there's a chemistry problem in the locker room and players are fighting, then I think it's open season.
So are you keeping notes of the juicy off-the-field stuff?
(Laughs) I will admit that I have a very juicy dairy!
Will it end up in a book?
Well, my experiences will definitely come out someday! People will hear these stories someday! Sooner rather than later! People won't believe it.
Have you been offered to bare it all in Playboy?
Yeah, I've been offered Playboy before. But I won't do it. I won't take off my clothes. I don't see anything wrong with Maxim, Stuff or FHM. Those magazines are tastefully done and you're not on your back naked!
But wouldn't appearing in a thong in Stuff magazine hurt your credibility?
Yeah, I would draw the line there. I wouldn't appear in a thong or a bathing suit. I think you can be very sexy and strong and really really powerful and not have to strip down to your undies. You can still be very sexy and feminine and not bare it all.
How in demand are you with those magazines?
We've got some interest from all of them right now.
Which one will you pick?
It's just a matter of timing. I have a Web site coming out on Valentine's Day, and we've got some projects that we're working on developing, so I would want to time it so it makes sense to be in those magazines. I'm very business-minded when it comes to my career. Everything is for a purpose. I don't pose for things just because I want to take pictures.
No regrets for giving up acting for sports?
Describe the perfect Valentine's Day.
This is no lie, I'd rather order a pizza, drink a beer, and watch a game on television than go to a fancy club or restaurant. I'd rather go to a Dodgers game than go to a new restaurant opening in Beverly Hills.
Who's the lucky guy?
I've had the same guy for 2 1/2 years! He's in the fire department. I report on sports heroes every day, but my boyfriend is a real-life hero.