[IWAR] OLYMPICS media coverage

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Wed Nov 26 1997 - 16:44:57 PST

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                  CBS taking everything but the kitchen sink to Nagano
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 The Associated Press
       NAGANO, Japan (November 26, 1997 4:53 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) --
       When the Olympics come to Nagano, CBS will be there with everything it's
       got -- the latest in mini-camera technology, 3-D computer graphics
       accurate down to the nearest bump and tree, a budget even Congress would
       envy. But they won't be getting David Letterman or his mom.
       "We weren't sure what to do about the audience," CBS senior vice
       president Rick Gentile said during an advance team tour of the Nagano
       facilities this week.
       But Dave or no Dave, Nagano will be getting a big, big dose of CBS.
       For a grand total of 128 hours of air time over 17 days -- 130 hours if
       you include a two-hour preview show scheduled for Feb. 3 -- CBS has paid
       $375 million for broadcast rights and expects to sell upward of $540
       million in commercials.
       Just how much CBS will spend on the actual coverage of the Feb. 7-22
       games is a company secret. Gentile, who is CBS' senior producer for the
       Olympics, characterized it only as "a bunch" of money.
       He did suggest where some of that money will be going:
         Advanced 3-D computer graphics for events like the downhill, bobsled
       and ski jump and high-tech animation for figure skating. "It's going to
       be like a video game. You are going to be skiing down the mountain like
       you are on it. It's going to be pretty cool."
         Mini-cameras, and some robotic ones, all over the place. Maybe even a
       camera on the face mask of U.S. hockey goalkeeper Mike Richter. Gentile
       said the camera is ready and lighter than ever, but added CBS won't use
       it unless the goalie is completely comfortable. They wouldn't want him
       to blame the camera if the United States loses.
         A staff of some 1,500 reporters, cameramen, drivers, translators,
       technicians and helpers.
       The biggest -- and most challenging -- innovation CBS has planned is its
       first live Olympic coverage in prime time.
       The formidable time lag between Japan and the United States -- Nagano is
       14 hours ahead of the East Coast, 17 ahead of the West -- has actually
       helped make that a possibility for some of the alpine skiing events,
       including the most popular event of all, the men's downhill.
       Figure skating, however, is another story. Expect to see it on video,
       and with huge delays.
       "Figure skating will be held at 7:30 at night here, which is 5:30 in the
       morning in the States," Gentile said. "So when people wake up in the
       morning they are going to know the results. They'll know them all day
       and then see them at night."
       Nagano's notoriously unpredictable weather, which has wreaked havoc on
       schedules for sports events held there in the past, will also keep CBS
       on its toes.
       "The weather around here is very changeable, very unreliable," Gentile
       said. "You can't count on the fact that the downhill is going to happen
       when it's supposed to, or any other event for that matter."
       American fans hoping to see the gold-medal game in women's hockey --
       which will be making its Olympic debut in Nagano -- may also be in for a
       wait, and then probably will get only highlights.
       The International Ice Hockey Federation is petitioning for a change, but
       the game is scheduled for well after midnight in the United States.
       And though aware of the criticism NBC faced for not giving enough time
       to women's soccer or volleyball at the Atlanta Games, Gentile said that
       unless the schedule is changed, the women's final won't be aired.
       All things considered, however, CBS believes having the games in Nagano
       will boost ratings, and it plans to hit the exotic Japan angle
       throughout the coverage.
       Nagano, population 360,000, is by no means one of the world's most
       scenic cities.
       Like most big Japanese cities, it tends to be a crowded hodgepodge of
       concrete and neon, with houses jammed together around streets that seem
       perpetually locked in snarled traffic.
       But to get that distinctive Japan look, CBS will broadcast from a
       sub-studio it is building on the grounds of Zenkoji, an ancient Buddhist
       temple that for 1,400 years has served as the city's centerpiece.
       Gentile said the area surrounding the temple has retained enough of its
       traditional look to appeal to Americans, and the Japan Alps surrounding
       the town can provide a breathtaking backdrop.
       "Lillehammer wasn't the most scenic area, either," he said. "It was a
       quaint little town with rolling hills and a lake. And yet, if you
       watched it on TV in the States you thought it was the fabulous town in
       the world."
       Bottom line?
       "I think we'll end up putting Nagano on the map for Americans," he said.
       By ERIC TALMADGE, The Associated Press

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