People person Bud Greenspan ascends medal stand again

November 23, 1994|By PHIL JACKMAN

The TV Repairman:

Bud Greenspan always enjoys it when someone walks up to him, "usually women, and they say, 'I never realized I was a sports fan until I watched one of your ['16 Days of Glory'] series.'

"I tell them," continued the expert filmmaker, " 'you probably don't like sports any better, you like people.' "

Which is what Greenspan's work is about, stories and people, people and stories, related in a relaxed, take-your-time manner that consistently captivates audiences.

"Lillehammer '94," the seventh of the "16 Days" series, makes its world premiere on the Disney Channel Saturday (9 p.m.) when Disney is providing a free holiday preview.

"I've always been very happy being on Disney or PBS in the evening hours as opposed to Saturday or Sunday afternoon and the 'jock' crowd," said Greenspan. "It's a far more receptive audience and the potential for 40 million viewers is exciting, too.

"With the networks, they're answering the public's desire for instant gratification and filling up the spaces with 'Up Close and Personal' clips. I'm sure if we [Cappy Productions] didn't have our background, there would be no place for us in the market today.

"Any time I mention 20-minute stories to a network or syndication, they say, 'Can't you get it down to five minutes?' It's not a story then."

The featured performers in Part 1 of two (the sequel due in February) are Oksana Bauil and Dan Jansen, cross country skiing rivals Manuela Di Centa and Lyubov Egorova and ski jump protagonists Epsen Bredesen and Jens Weissflog.

Jansen and Bauil, you're probably thinking to yourself, there's nothing about them I don't know. That's where Greenspan's ability as a storyteller shines through. The head-to-head competitions between the women and the men is something viewers never got a hint of last February when the Games were on CBS.

* Anyone suggesting that a Nebraska victory over Miami in the Orange Bowl Jan. 1, giving the Cornhuskers the national championship, would dispatch the Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta and Citrus bowls on Jan. 2 to ratings oblivion really doesn't understand what the bowls are all about. Bad enough, because of the Super Bowl, the perception is there's only one winner in pro football. College ball is better than that.

* Tomorrow's pro grid fare sees the Bills and Lions squaring off at 12:30 p.m. on NBC, followed by the Packers visiting the Cowboys at 4 (Fox). Raise your hand if you'd rather see the Pack play the Lions, not indoors at the Superdome, but in a good, old-fashioned knuckle sandwich game under leaden skies with a light snow in the fourth quarter at good old Tiger Stadium.

Pssst! Collegiately, as Chuck Thompson used to say, Texas and Baylor play on ABC at 11 a.m. . . . And don't forget, ESPN will get the whole thing started, showing a 90-minute special, "The NFL's All-Time Team", at 10:30 a.m.

Yes, there are some basketball games on the menu, right there next to the parsley, but it seems almost sacrilegious to mention them on Turkey Day.

Besides, Friday and Saturday are for hoops and Nebraska polishing off Oklahoma on ABC at 2:30 p.m. Friday, and the Bowl Coalition praying Notre Dame beats Southern Cal at 8 p.m. Saturday on ABC. See, a 6-5 Irish team in postseason would be slightly embarrassing.

ABC has the Florida-Florida State game Saturday (noon), then goes to the "Skins Game" before doubling back in the evening (8) with ND-USC. Eddie Robinson's run-it-up Grambling team plays Southern on NBC at 2 p.m. ESPN has Penn State-Michigan State at 4 p.m., Boston College-Miami at 7:30 p.m.

* Golfer Payne Stewart is probably correct when he says, "The Skins Game has become something that everyone looks forward to watching on Thanksgiving Weekend." Payne, of course, has a vested interest since he's hauled $760,000 out of the coffers while winning the last three "Skins." The opposition Saturday and Sunday (Ch. 13, 3:30 p.m.) on ABC consists of Paul Azinger, Fred Couples and Tom Watson.

* Chris Ely of Channel 13 must have been counting fingers Sunday night when he reported 2,000 were on hand at the airport to welcome the CFLs home from their win over Winnipeg that afternoon. A few hundred were on hand.

* NBC's figure skating show Saturday night, "The Gold Championship," drew a solid audience (nearly 10 million homes) despite the fact it was an in-house production by International Management Group, ill-suited IMG clients scooping up the jobs, and the judging being little more than a popularity contest. Poor Oksana Bauil, injuries and sudden growth have messed her up, but they insist on shoving her out there to fall down and run into things.

* The problem with ESPN making a semi-big deal over former heavyweight champ Michael Moorer renouncing his retirement the other day is millions didn't know he was hanging the gloves up in the first place.

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