NBC's Super Bowl blitz to include 28 cameras, 14 commentators

Media Watch

January 26, 1996|By Milton Kent

Like the Dallas Cowboys, NBC is making its third Super Bowl appearance in the past four years, though unlike the Cowboys, who had to win their way to the championship game, the Peacock Network has made it through broadcasting contract quirks and good old-fashioned cash.

Still, it's fitting that NBC, the best of the five outlets that cover the NFL, gets to present the Big Game, which the network expects to attract more than 135 million viewers.

In the first big event of its Dream Season, NBC, which may collect more than $90 million in advertising revenue for this game alone, is going full-out for Sunday's Cowboys-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup, which kicks off at 6:20 p.m.

From the trucks

From the production end of things, NBC is pledging to keep things basic.

That definition works if you consider 28 cameras poised around Sun Devil Stadium, an army of tape machines, 14 on-camera hosts, analysts, reporters and commentators, a 2 1/2 -hour pre-game show and an expected four-hour game telecast to be "basic."

"You don't want to miss anything," said game producer John Faratzis, working his third Super contest of the 14 that NBC has carried.

The production staff found that the main action camera angles at Sun Devil Stadium -- just used three weeks ago for the Fiesta Bowl -- were too high, and that there was no end zone camera spot on one end.

So, at the expense of some seats, director John Gonzalez said NBC lowered the camera angles and cleared out another end zone spot.

Many of the cameras, particularly those at field level, will be devoted to isolation shots of linemen, receivers and runners.

One camera will be trained on Dallas' Deion Sanders throughout the entire game, whether he is on offense or defense, standing on the sidelines, making a commercial or doing the dance of the seven veils.

"When we talked about facilities for coverage of this Super Bowl, we didn't know who the participants would be," Faratzis said. "But all along we said we wanted one camera to delegate to whomever the prominent personality would be. There are stars that command that.

"We just felt that if anything happened to Deion, it would command enough attention that we'd be criticized if we didn't have it."

In the booth

Besides the team that makes off with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the other winner Sunday will be game analyst Paul Maguire.

Maguire, who had been on NBC's No. 2 announcing team, was moved up this season to the lead crew with Dick Enberg to help make Phil Simms' transition to the booth go along more smoothly.

Maguire has done that and more, and with Sunday's game the former punter and linebacker for the Bills and Chargers gets a payoff for hard work and good humor.

"This is rewarding," said Maguire. "As a player, all you talk about is the Super Bowl. As an announcer, you want the chance to do the biggest game you can do, and this is the biggest game. The magnitude of something like this, with all the people watching and the fact that I'll be there is amazing and kind of scary."

Meanwhile, Simms, the former New York Giants quarterback who is only the third player to play in the Super Bowl and announce it, joining Bart Starr and Joe Theismann, is taking exactly the opposite tack, perhaps because, unlike Maguire, he actually played in the game.

"I don't think I'll be intimidated at all Sunday. The two things are very different. There are a lot more nerves standing on that field than being in that booth," said Simms, the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXI.

"I cannot imagine standing and listening to the national anthem in that booth and feeling what I did on that field. That's as

emotional and as nervous as I have ever been."

Before and after

The usual cast of the "NFL on NBC" pre-game show -- host Greg Gumbel, co-host Ahmad Rashad, and analysts Mike Ditka, Joe Gibbs and Joe Montana, will be on hand for the pre-game festivities, starting at 3:30 p.m.

Their collective presence will be augmented by that of Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Randy Cross and Bob Trumpy. Jim Gray will work the Cowboys sideline while Will McDonough patrols the Pittsburgh bench.

In addition, Cross and Oakland Raiders quarterback Jeff Hostetler will conduct a real-time game report on-line at the network's Internet site at http://superbowl.com.

Finally, Jack Buck and Hank Stram will do the CBS Radio honors on WBAL (1090 AM), starting at 6 p.m.

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