Evans puts on a smile, for the cameras, anyway


July 29, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

Monday night, NBC gave us Anita Nall, this year's girl of American swimming. Last night, the network's Olympics show presented Janet Evans, this year's girl of 1988.

During a feature preceding Evans' swim in the 400-meter freestyle, she recalled being asked recently why she didn't smile as much anymore.

"I can't stay 17 forever," Evans replied.

But after Evans' six-year winning streak in the 400 freestyle was ended by Dagmar Hase, that smile was very much in evidence for NBC's Mike O'Brien -- though off-camera she wept for an hour over her second-place finish.

Do you feel like we do?

It's such a cliche that it can be called "the TV question."

"Captain Spaulding, you've just shot an elephant in your pajamas. How do you feel?"

But NBC swimming and diving analysts, supposedly possessed of technical knowledge that would allow them to probe deeper, are asking "How do you feel?" ad nauseam.

Wendy Lian Williams at diving and Mary Wayte or O'Brien at swimming aren't posing any threat to Ted Koppel. In fact, the best parts of the post-race or post-dive interviews are displays of poise by the competitors.

Quiet time

For viewers who like to see the action play itself out with a minimum of commentary, last night's floor exercise during the women's gymnastics team finals was a treat.

John Tesh, Elfi Schlegel and Tim Daggett said nothing during the routines. A good move -- let us utter our own wows when Dominique Dawes rips up the mat.

When the three announcers were talking, they paid too much attention to Kim Zmeskal's rally to qualify for the all-around competition -- though that was a large story -- and not enough on the U.S. team capturing the bronze medal.

Later, when U.S. coach Bela Karolyi spoke of retirement, NBC left the impression that he was out of the gym. In fact, Karolyi just is quitting as a national team coach. This distinction should have been made clear.

Looking ahead

Get out your "Go Anita" posters. Towson's Anita Nall swims in the 100 breaststroke final during tonight's telecast (channels 2, 4, 7:30-midnight). Another Marylander, Potomac's Mike Barrowman, will be competing in the 200 breaststroke.

Also look for American Summer Sanders in the 100 butterfly.

In addition, tonight's show will include the men's platform diving finals, equestrian competition and boxing. Though American Kent Ferguson just squeezed into the finals, compatriot Mark Lenzi, the wrestler-turned-diver, is in a good position to win a medal. And look for U.S. boxer Oscar de la Hoya, a solid contender at 132 pounds.

Oh, the U.S. men's basketball team plays Germany. Do you have a feeling that NBC might show us a little of that? After all, Uwe Blab fans are all around.

Rap fans might enjoy tonight's music video, a tribute to the Dream Team by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. The Fresh Prince, otherwise known as Will Smith, happens to be the star of an NBC sitcom, "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air." Quite a coincidence, huh?

NBC again is saving volleyball, this time a U.S. women's game against Japan, for the late-night program (12:35-2:05 a.m.).

Numbers game

On Day 2 of the Games on Monday, NBC drew a 19.4 rating and 35 share in prime time. In 1988 from Seoul, Day 2 of the Olympics got a 17.7 rating for the network. Monday's mark is 10 percent higher.

For the first two nights from Barcelona, NBC is averaging 18.7/34, compared with 16.7/30 from Seoul. The 1992 prime-time numbers are 12 and 13 percent higher, respectively, than in 1988.

The network has guaranteed advertisers a 15.3 rating for the Barcelona Games.

A rating measures the percentage of all television households watching a program. A share measures the percentage among homes where television is in use. And ever since the fall of communism, we no longer have to worry about those low ratings from the Soviet judges.

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