'Barcelona '92': 16 days of gold


August 13, 1993|By RAY FRAGER

The Barcelona Olympics were filled with touching moments. Charles Barkley elbowing an Ethiopian player. The U.S. volleyball team becoming eligible for Hair Club for Men ("I'm not only a setter, I'm also the president"). Dick Enberg kissing Katie Couric on the cheek.

Hey, everyone is entitled to his own memories.

The man who really creates Olympic memories is documentary maker Bud Greenspan. His two-hour look at last year's Summer Games, "Barcelona '92: 16 Days of Glory," debuts Sunday on The Disney Channel at 9 p.m. (This must be special for Disney to pre-empt its 24,391st showing of "The Rocketeer.")

Greenspan has produced documentaries on the Summer Games 1972, 1984 and 1988 and the Winter Games of 1988. His 22-part Olympic history, "The Olympiad," won two Emmy Awards.

His style is deceptively simple. There is little bombast -- hardly any music, smooth editing instead of constant jump cuts, spare use of slow motion, narration in a low-key, nearly deadpan manner.

"Our premise and promise is for people to ask, 'Where were the networks?' and 'I didn't know that,' " Greenspan said earlier this week, probably with those glasses still perched on his head.

One of the best "I didn't know that" segments of "Barcelona '92" involves Moroccan distance runner Khalid Skah.

In this case, Greenspan has taken a widely reported incident and given it a fresh spin.

Skah won the 10,000 meters after he appeared to receive improper aid from countryman Hammou Boutayeb in defeating Kenya's Richard Chelimo. The Barcelona crowd hooted Skah's victory, which was reversed and then reinstated a day later.

Interviews with Skah and footage of the race make the case that he was trying to keep Boutayeb, who had been lapped, away from him and Chelimo.

Furthermore, the point is made that the Kenyans themselves have a reputation for working together in much the same way that Skah and Boutayeb were accused of.

You have to be made of stone not to be touched by other athletes' stories, in particular judo player Yael Arad's homage to the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics on her journey to becoming Israel's first medal winner and cyclist Erika Salumae's pride in finally being able to see her native Estonia's flag raised and anthem played in honor of her victory.

"I think the theme for us all the time is humanity," Greenspan said.

Greenspan's documentaries obviously have made an impression on the athletes.

During the Games, Greenspan said, gold-medal-winning U.S. gymnast Trent Dimas approached him and said: " 'Mr. Greenspan, my dream in life is to be in one of your films,' and that was it. He was in."

When speaking of his comeback that led to Olympic gold, American swimmer Pablo Morales told one of Greenspan's colleagues: "When I was a kid, I saw 'The Olympiad' series, and I told my mom, 'One day, that's going to be me up on that medal stand.' "

And, as "Barcelona '92" records, so it was.

Radio, radio

Some people just can't do wacky.

During Wednesday's Rhino-thon on the radio, WBAL (1090 AM) morning show host Allan Prell fielded calls from an outraged listenership about the proposed NFL team name. Prell added the sound of a bleating rhino here and there. That's entirely fitting for Prell's show. If you look up "wacky" in the dictionary, there's a picture of . . . actually, there's no picture. But Prell is wacky.

WBAL sports talker Jeff Rimer is not wacky. And that rhino sound seemed pretty out of place on his show later in the day. Jeff, leave wacky stuff to wacky guys. . . .

Somebody who is wacky is Stan "The Fan" Charles of WCBM (680 AM). But he devoted way too much of his show the other night to a discussion of Jon Miller's telling the Channel 2 audience that Orioles games weren't on TV when Home Team Sports was televising. We could debate whether most people consider a game on a premium cable channel to be the same as a game on an over-the-air channel, but then again there'szzzzzzz. . . .

On Thursday from 8 p.m. to midnight, WBAL Radio will air a "Give Baltimore the Ball" special, devoted to life, liberty and the .. pursuit of an NFL team. Channel 11's Gerry Sandusky will be the host of the show, described as sort of a club-seat sales telethon and football talk show. Among those scheduled to appear are ex-Colts Lenny Moore, Marty Domres and Stan White and the Maryland Stadium Authority's ever-optimistic Herb Belgrad.

Drive for show

TBS is adding to CBS' coverage of the PGA Championship this weekend. Today, TBS' telecast begins at noon. Tomorrow and Sunday, TBS starts at 11 a.m., then CBS (channels 11, 9) comes on at 1:30 p.m. And if Nick Faldo and Nick Price go into a playoff, it will be on Nick at Nite.

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