Following a formula
Speed Channel leads coverage
The world is visiting Indianapolis for Sunday's US Grand Prix, an event that will be seen by more people around the world than will watch this weekend's NFL and major league baseball games on American TV.
"The Formula One aggregate numbers always seem to exceed the world's population," said Speed Channel senior coordinating producer Frank Wilson, who has the assignment of producing the one picture stream -- the world feed -- that will go to that audience, one he estimates to be "at least the size of a normal worldwide Olympic audience."
Part of the host country's assignment is to produce that feed. That's the same feed that regularly frustrates Speed Channel announcers Rick DeBruhl, David Hobbs, and Steve Matchett as they call F1 races taking place around the world from the network's Charlotte, N.C., studios.
Regular on-air quotes by the trio go something like, "Hungarian [or Italian or Australian or Japanese . . .] TV hasn't given us another look at that pass or a replay of the crash in the first corner," or "The host broadcaster hasn't given us a shot of the battle for third place."
This weekend, broadcasters around the world will be saying similar things about the feed being produced by Speed Channel.
"It's not traditional TV for me as the producer," said Wilson. "My role is to make sure the stories of the race are told. On a normal US show, I'd be responsible for going to breaks, inserting promos, going to replays, graphics, and making sure the talent knows where we're going. But this is really a director's show. That role will be handled by Conrad Piccirillo."
Because of F1's ironclad worldwide regulations, a second Speed Channel truck, with Dan Shutte in the producer's seat and Dan Glovach as director, will be taking that same world feed and maybe second-guessing their boss to produce the telecast that will come our way.
DeBruhl, Hobbs, and Matchett for once will be at the scene of the race they're calling, united with roving reporters Peter Windsor and Derek Daly, who normally travel to the race site and provide reports. Also in town is Alan Henry, the F1 historian who normally is on the phone with Charlotte from the media center at each circuit, giving updated news and standings. Matchett, an Englishman and former F1 mechanic, lives in the French countryside and normally could drive to a lot of races; instead, he flies across the Atlantic to the studio. This time, he's in Indianapolis.
Speed Channel will air today's practice session from noon to 1 p.m. and qualifying from 3-4 p.m. In between, they'll stay on air with news and features, one of which will be a look back back at the 1973 German Grand Prix, the final F1 race for Jackie Stewart, who later became an ABC commentator for the Indianapolis 500 and headed Jaguar's F1 racing operation.
"[The tape] is from the original 14-mile Nurburgring track and looks as if it were cut yesterday," said Wilson. "And best of all, Stewart will be with us to talk about it."
Tomorrow, Speed Channel will air the morning (9-11) practice and afternoon final qualifying (1:30-3). On Sunday, the prerace coverage begins at 1:30, with green flag just after 2 p.m.
The world -- though not much of the US -- will be watching.
Local team is out
The good news is that the Red Sox will be in the playoffs; the bad news is that all the TV coverage will be national, with the first round (division series) split up between ESPN and Fox. The inevitable result will be that Sox fans will grouse about the national announcers telling us so much of what we already know. No one is more disappointed about this state of affairs than NESN analyst Jerry Remy, whose season ends Sunday. Remy echoed the lament of local broadcasters everywhere when the networks come in and take over. "It stinks. These are the best games, and you can't do them. The temptation was to stay home and watch the games on TV," he said. Instead, he'll contribute to NESN's postgame shows, do some work for Channel 4, and appear on WEEI (850 AM) the morning after each game. "I won't make the first trip to Oakland," he said, "but I'll make any subsequent trips with the team." For the turn-down-the-sound-on-the-TV crowd, Joe Castiglione and Jerry Trupiano will call the games on WEEI radio (850-AM) . . . Neither ESPN nor Fox will do the playoffs in HD, though Fox will broadcast the World Series in its widescreen format . . . The video of Tuesday night's home plate celebration following David Ortiz's winning home run in the 10th is one for the archives . . . Here's hoping someone in need of a broadcaster caught the work of "Announcer for an Inning" Todd Bloniarz Tuesday night. Bloniarz, who had won a NESN contest that brought him to Fenway to broadcast a half-inning of the Red Sox-Orioles game, had what you'd call presence. He seemingly took charge of the booth. He was aware of where the cameras were pointing (Tim Wakefield snacking in the dugout, Nomar Garciaparra stealing), he anticipated a comeback ("Do I smell a rally?") after the Sox drew a pair of walks, he fired off a couple of one-liners ("Todd Walker, my namesake" and "Any Kulpa-bility?") that analyst Remy appreciated, and seemed to have the right timing for Remy to add analysis. Bloniarz will be back at work this weekend broadcasting Tufts athletics for www.jumbocast.net, whose schedule calls for women's volleyball this evening and Tufts-Bates football Sunday at 12:30 p.m. . . . Former Harvard quarterback Mike Giardi (not the NECN announcer of the same name) is in his ninth year of doing analysis of Crimson football on WCRN (830). He'll join play-by-play man Bernie Corbett tomorrow at noon for Harvard-Brown . . . CN8 has live coverage of Northeastern-Villanova football tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., followed by taped coverage of the Chelmsford-Central Catholic game at 4:30 . . . "FOX25 Morning News" made its debut this week, but ESPN2 has postponed the debut of its 7-9 a.m. morning show, "Cold Pizza," from Oct. 1 to Oct. 20.
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