ESPN The Magazine: Interview Issue

New Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and his bulldog DH share a moment

Ozzie Guillen no longer manages in the American League, but he’ll always have a soft spot for the DH.

Look no further than the cover of the latest ESPN The Magazine’s “Interview Issue” for evidence of his affection for DH — the name of his bulldog.

The former Chicago White Sox manager will pilot the Miami Marlins in 2012 and is the subject of an interview with Tim Kurkjian.

John Korpics

Guillen and his family played host to photographer Chris McPherson, ESPN The Magazine Senior Director of Photography Karen Frank and the rest of the crew in his Chicago-area home.

He grilled chicken, sausage and steak.

“The ESPN The Magazine crew was great to work with,” said Guillen, who served as an analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight during the 2011 World Series.

“It was fun, the first time I have ever cooked for a crew that was doing a shoot. They ate all my food!

“And, of course, DH was our leader. . .well, him and his tongue.”

Front Row asked John Korpics, The Magazine’s new Creative Director, for background on the cover photo. The first-ever “Interview Issue” is in mailboxes today and on newsstands Friday.

FR: What’s the story behind this cover?

Korpics: It was shot at his house in Chicago. Ozzie was kind of between teams, so rather than go to a ballpark, we asked if he’d be willing to shoot at home. We’re always looking for ways to get athletes out of their normal environment. We think we have a better chance of making unexpected pictures that way.

FR: What were your alternative covers and how did this shot emerge as the choice?

Korpics: We wanted to shoot [Green Bay Packers quarterback] Aaron Rodgers, but Aaron Rodgers would only be shot with his offensive line. For this issue, we weren’t really interested in doing that, because it was an interview with Aaron, not the whole team. We did a few backup cover still lifes that ran on the inside of the magazine. There’s a picture of a bunch of microphones that’s on the opening page of the feature well. There’s a picture of a pile of digital cassette tapes that ran on the table of contents. We also did a photo-illustration of Aaron Rodgers for a cover where he’s in his uniform and we put microphones all over it. We tried a bunch of those kinds of covers, but in the end we thought the picture [of Ozzie and his dog] was the best moment we had. It was definitely the most eye-catching, and it really felt fun and energetic. Plus, it was the only picture where the dog’s tongue was actually going into Ozzie’s mouth, which shows just how committed Ozzie is to the relationship!

FR: How did DH the bulldog become involved in the shoot with Ozzie?

Korpics: We encouraged that. We told Ozzie, anything you want to do that you would normally do in your day — if you wash your car, walk the dog, cook on the grill — we’re interested in taking pictures like that because it feels more intimate. Because we’re from ESPN, people will give us access that we might not normally get, and I really want to try and show that in our pictures.

FR: There’s another great shot of Ozzie inside the magazine playing the congas. How did that shot come about?

Korpics: Music is something he’s passionate about, and again, it’s a part of his everyday life. He loves his congas, and he’s passionate about his heritage, and I think that picture gets to both of those things.

FR: How would you describe your job as Creative Director to the layperson?

Korpics: I’ve been at ESPN almost three months. My job is first and foremost to oversee the look and production of the magazine, and to work with [ESPN The Magazine Editor-In-Chief] Chad Millman to reinvent it. We’ve made a lot of changes in the past two months and we have lots of ideas for how to improve it going forward. I’m also working closely with [ESPN's Senior Director Design, Fantasy and Community] Dan Benshoff, looking for ways to integrate what we do at the magazine with the look of our digital products. Most recently, I was at Fortune Magazine and Time, Inc. and I have a long background in magazines.

FR: How do you like working in Bristol?

Korpics: I love it. It’s great. I’ve been working in Manhattan almost 20 years. I was ready to come out and try something new. Plus I couldn’t stand taking that train anymore!