Magazine article American Cinematographer

Knxt Program on Marathon Runs Away with Highest Honors in Sportscast Competition

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Knxt Program on Marathon Runs Away with Highest Honors in Sportscast Competition

Article excerpt

A 30-minute program, produced by an independent documentary and entertainment producer for CBS station, wins top sports show award

The first well-known runner was a Greek soldier who carried news of a great military victory at Marathon home to Athens 26 miles and 385 yards away. Upon arrival, he gasped out the good news, and died.

Today, thousands upon thousands of people are following in that soldier's footsteps, albeit with better results after arriving at the finish. KNXT, the CBS Television Network-owned station in Los Angeles, focused on the running phenomenon sweeping the nation in a 30minute special that earned the Iris Award from the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) as the best major market sports program of the year. The program was produced for KNXT by Dave Bell Associates, Inc., an independent documentary and entertainment program producer in Hollywood.

"KNXT's idea was to produce a program keyed to the Los Angeles Marathon," says John Cosgrove, who wrote, directed and coproduced the show with Bob Niemack, also of the Dave Bell organization. "We had worked with KNXT and other local stations on special production projects before. This time we had approximately three weeks to prepare a program for airing the same day as the event.

"A marathon is a sporting event evoking all kinds of drama, excitement and passion," Cosgrove says. "We thought the key to producing a successful program was finding a human angle, something the audience could easily relate with. We wanted it to be more than just another sports program documenting the action and results of an event."

The Los Angeles Marathon started at 8 a.m., on a Saturday. The last runner completed the course approximately five hours and 10 minutes later. "Saturday Morning Fever" aired at 7:30 that evening.

Approximately two-thirds of the film footage was produced before the race by three cinematographers from Dave Bell Associates. The film profiled four of the participants and featured interviews with medical and psychiatric practitioners offering insights and advice about running.

The profiles gave the audience someone with whom to relate. "The runners were shown as individuals with varying motivations and drives," Cosgrove says. The program also provided much useful information about what running does for (and to) people's bodies.

The remaining third of the sportscast consisted of videotaped coverage of the event. Two KNXT news crews worked with the producers, and all post-production was also done at the station, "While the marathon itself was a colorful spectacle, we banked a lot upon the performances of the four people we profiled," Niemack points out. "If more than one of them dropped out, we would have been hard-pressed to get the program we had envisioned on the air."

The first task was the selection of runners to profile. Several choices were obvious. Steve Edwards, who had recently joined the KNXT news staff as a daytime talk show host and weather reporter on the news, had run marathons in Chicago. He was selected as commentator, cohosting with KNXT sportscaster Jim Hill, in addition to participating in the race. Ken Moffit, the 1977 Los Angeles Marathon winner, was another obvious choice.

The third and fourth profiles focused on a woman running her first marathon, and a man who started running for therapy as part of a rehabilitation program while recovering from a heart attack. "We spoke with medical practitioners associated with running therapy, people from the AAU and other individuals and organizations interested in the field," Niemack says. "It is a tight community, so a lot of the same names came up."

Little more than a week before the event, three of the people profiled were doubtful starters. "We were starting to feel a little like the Greek soldier who ran the original marathon," Niemack recalls. Moffitt had a bad cold and missed three days of training. …

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