The Grill Room rages on

DEAN McNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

Picture, if you will, Sun Media's Steve Buffery as Whoopi Goldberg, Hockey Night In Canada's Jeff Marek as Joy Behar, NBA basketball writer Darren Andrade as Elisabeth Hasselbeck and SUN TV's Gareth Wheeler as Barbara Walters.

With apologies to the women of ABC-TV's The View, what you would have is The Grill Room, which will air its 500th episode on Sun TV tonight at 11 p.m.

But instead of arguing over which latest Hollywood hottie is showing off her private parts to the paparazzi, the Grill Room guys bang heads over missed passes on the fields of professional sports.

"Sure, we've been called The View for men," Wheeler, host of the nightly gab fest, said. "But what we do best is take whatever are the hot topics that day in the world of sports and argue them into submission, much the way UFC champion Randy Couture, who has been a guest on our show, beats an opponent to a pulp."

Robert Gibson, the show's producer since it hit the airwaves on Aug. 31, 2005, said one of the secrets to the longevity of the program is that almost nothing is sacred.

"We tackle every subject to do with sports, be it racism, cheating, sexism or homerism, and our guests will have an opinion on them," Gibson said.

In a market that is saturated with coverage of the National Hockey League, Wheeler likes to think The Grill Room opens up sports discussion to more than just the Maple Leafs.

"We can't ignore the elephant in the sports department that is the Leafs," he said. "We do cover the NHL and the Leafs, but we also pride ourselves in our coverage of the (NBA) Raptors, the Blue Jays, the Argos, Toronto FC and the Ticats in Hamilton"

The concept of a sports talk show on television is nothing new, but the genre has been mostly the domain of ex-athletes and ex-coaches.

It was Buffery, during a trip with the Raptors to Philadelphia, who caught a show featuring sports writers from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

When he returned to Toronto he pitched the idea of doing a similar show on SUN TV. Buffery may have spawned a monster, as talks are under way to take the show national.

"We are hoping to get permission to expand out of our market sometime soon," Gibson said. "It would be great to see the show coast to coast."

The show would have more resources to do more live interviews and expand its formidable stable of guests.


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