Melissa Stark recently fielded two heady offers in the span of
three days. On Monday, June 19, her boyfriend, Michael Lilly,
asked her to marry him. Two days later Don Ohlmeyer, the
executive producer of ABC's Monday Night Football, phoned and
asked, "Are you ready for some football?"
Stark, 26, accepted both proposals. A four-year veteran field
reporter at ESPN, Stark's ascendance to the pinnacle of field
reporting, working the sidelines for MNF--an assignment she will
share with Eric Dickerson--was swift, in large part because she is
young, attractive, composed on camera, attractive and obviously
intelligent. She replaces Lesley Visser, 46, who added energy and
sparkle to the telecasts and had terrific rapport with players
and coaches. But the same could be said of Lynn Swann, who was
unceremoniously dumped in favor of Visser two years earlier.
Telegenic Darwinism can be cruel, but that's life in the TV
Stark's biggest challenge will be to get a word in edgewise.
During the 75-minute teleconference call to unveil the new MNF
team, hers was the only voice among the on-air talent that was
not heard. Al Michaels later promised her that her mute presence
was no sign of things to come. "I hope not," she replied
good-naturedly, "or this will be a very easy job."
Stark may never be as chummy with the boys in the booth as
Visser was, but she has the talent to flourish on this grand