ESPN Films’ The Book of Manning (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET), part of the “SEC Storied” documentary series, explores the personal and professional life of former NFL and Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning. The film focuses on how the sudden loss of his father affected his life and the way he and his wife, Olivia, raised their three sons: Cooper, and NFL stars Peyton and Eli.
Front Row sat with director Rory Karpf to discuss how the film — narrated by actor John Goodman — came together.
How was the experience of working with Archie and how did the film evolve?continue reading…
“The Voice Of The SEC,” Paul Finebaum visited ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. headquarters last week for the “Car Wash” treatment as an introduction to his new roles with the network.
Long regarded as an authority on all things Southeastern Conference-related, the popular sports talk show host joins ESPN beginning this August with a daily radio program. In August 2014, when the SEC Network launches, a television simulcast of Finebaum’s radio show will air afternoons. continue reading…
How difficult would it be to direct a full-length film in addition to performing your normal work duties? Just ask ESPN Films producer Erin Leyden, whose documentary, Abby Head On, premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU as part of the SEC Storied film series.
Front Row caught up with Leyden in advance of the film’s debut. Also, be on the lookout for another film she is directing this summer, The 99ers, part of the Nine for IX ESPN Films and espnW series. continue reading…
ESPN Films’ next SEC Storied documentary, Miracle 3, will premiere on Sunday, March 3, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
The film, directed by Rory Karpf, chronicles the dramatic events that ensued after a tornado hit downtown Atlanta during the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome.
On March 14, 2008, Alabama trailed Mississippi State 59-56 in the final seconds of the first quarterfinal game of the evening session. Crimson Tide guard Mykal Riley sank a last-second three-pointer as time expired, sending the game into overtime. That shot not only extended Alabama’s season for the moment, but it might have prevented thousands of fans from pouring into the city streets just as the tornado touched down.
ESPN college basketball analyst Bruce Pearl was the head coach at the University of Tennessee at the time and was in Atlanta with his team. Front Row asked Pearl to reflect on the experience.
ESPN’s Bruce Pearl. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Where were you when the tornado hit?
Our players were at the hotel and we were going through a walk through in the hotel in a very open area with a large glass ceiling. All of a sudden, everything just got darker and it sounded like a freight train was running right through the hotel. I just immediately got the players away from the glass ceiling. My first thought was that it was an earthquake, it felt like the building was moving a little bit. And then we all just huddled up and listened, crouched down and waited it out.
Were you surprised at the extent of the damage after it was over?
I didn’t let the guys out of the hotel that night. We wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to contact their families. Once the storm ended, we put on ESPN and we heard there was a [tornado] and that there was damage to the Dome. We didn’t know if the tournament was going to go on or what was going to happen.
What were you thinking when you found out your game was being moved to Georgia Tech?continue reading…
Some things you remember for a lifetime: your first bike, your first kiss, your first job.
This week ESPNU takes a look back at a first the college football world would never forget, the first SEC Championship Game in 1992 between Florida and Alabama.
The Play That Changed College Football debuted on ESPNU this Thursday and will reair on ESPNU today at noon ET prior to the 20th SEC Championship between LSU and Georgia.
The documentary, the second to air in the SEC Storied series, dives into what the inaugural championship meant at the time and what it has meant to college football today.
“For the Storied series, we look for topics in the SEC’s rich history that really resonate. The first SEC football championship game fit that description. The way the game played out, the immediate aftermath and the larger implications have helped shape college football as we know it today,” said John Dahl, ESPN executive producer.
In the same spirit of reminiscing, Front Row asked ESPN employees what they remember from 1992: continue reading…
Editor’s Note:How does an ESPN program go from idea to pilot to reality? Ron Wechsler, ESPN Vice President for Content Development, gives us a peek at the evolution of SEC: Storied. It’s a new documentary series project for ESPNU debuting Wednesday night at 8 ET. In August, he explained how the SEC documentary idea originated. Here’s Part 2 of Wechsler’s account of how SEC: Storied came to be.
Here we are on premiere night of the new ESPNU documentary series Storied, the first installment of which “Herschel” will focus on the legendary University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner, Herschel Walker.
After signing off on the series concept with the SEC — but prior to choosing the subject matter — we wanted to commit to a production company.
We wanted one that shared our vision and would be able to tackle a large and varied project like Storied.
One of the benefits to having the Content Development Group oversee 30 for 30 is that we ended up working with a talented and divergent group of filmmakers and companies.
Once such company was NASCAR Media Group (NMG), who produced and directed the 30 for 30 film Tim Richmond: To The Limit.
Not only were we impressed with their work on the film, but Rory Karpf, the Emmy Award-winning director of that doc, had previously worked at NFL Films.
So they were storytellers, had a compelling and diverse resume, and were based in Charlotte, N.C. — headquarters of ESPNU. continue reading…
Editor’s Note:How does an ESPN program go from idea to pilot to reality? Ron Wechsler, ESPN Vice President for Content Development, gives us a peek at the evolution of SEC: Storied. It’s a new documentary series project for ESPNU debuting in September. Here’s Part 1 of Wechsler’s account of how SEC: Storied came to be.
This February, the fine folks at ESPNU asked the ESPN Content Development (ECD) team to re-imagine a block of programming for the Southeastern Conference.
Previously, we had partnered with the SEC to produce a show called SEC Weekly, which (if you follow the logic of the title) was a weekly show recapping the highlights of the SEC.
While it was well produced, the SEC was looking for a series that was a little more signature in nature, and asked us to come up with a creative concept.
We worked on it for a few weeks and put together a proposal for a magazine show along the lines of E:60.
Once a month, we’d explore 2-3 stories in more depth and over a wider range of topics than the format for SEC Weekly had allowed.
When we completed the proposal, myself, John Dahl (Executive Producer, ECD), Dan Margulis (ESPNU’s Director of Programming and Acquisitions) and Chris Turner (ESPN Senior Director, SEC programming) had a conference call with the SEC.
In a polite Southern manner, the SEC explained to us that while they appreciated the proposal, they were looking for something more in the vein of 30 for 30. continue reading…