Today's Entertainment

July 22, 2012

The Brainerd Dispatch - Today's Entertainment Magazine

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COVER STORY London puts on a show fit for royalty at XXX Summer Olympics By George Dickie © Zap2it ible image from the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was the 897 blocks of movable type on the floor of the Olympic stadium, moving and changing to depict, among other scenes, a raindrop rippling outward on a pond, swells on an ocean and the Chi- nese symbol for harmony. At sequence's end, it was re- Probably the most indel- ing at home had a combination of appreciation and awe for the beauty of it and the accomplish- ment of it. But also it was a little unsettling to them, because you said, 'My God, if they can mar- shal their forces with this much precision for this ...,' well, you fill in the blank." The peacock network and its vealed that the performance was not computer-controlled, as had been assumed, but actually the work of 897 human performers moving their blocks up and down perfectly in unison. It was a stunning display of precision and attention to detail that still impresses NBC's Bob Costas four years later as he readies to host the XXX Summer Olympics in London, which kick off with the Opening Ceremony Friday, July 27, on NBC. "I think in Beijing they retired the trophy (for best Opening Ceremony)," Costas says. "You know, they had the resources to do it. You have a country that not only financed the Olympics and did so with an unlimited budget, but which is in a posi- tion to have tens of thousands of 'volunteers' volunteer to rehearse for six months. You just got cir- cumstances in China that you wouldn't find anywhere else. "Plus of course, they have an extraordinarily rich civiliza- tion and history to talk about," he continues. "And it was a true national effort by an emerging nation with, at least for that pur- pose, close to unlimited resourc- es of both people and money. So I think everybody decided after that, 'All we can do is the best we can do on our own terms.' But no one's terms will ever be the same as Beijing's. this during the opening ceremo- nies - the average person watch- "And I think that - and I said various properties - MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, NBC Sports Net- work, Telemundo, NBCOlympics. com and two specialty channels - will provide more than 5,500 hours of coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics running through the Closing Ceremony on Aug. 12, offering live and de- lay coverage of all 26 sports and all 302 medal competitions. Costas will serve as prime- time host of the telecasts, heading a broadcast talent pool that includes Al Michaels, John McEnroe, Mary Carillo, Ryan Seacrest and Dan Patrick. For Costas, 60, this Olympics represents his 10th Games, Winter and Summer (and ninth as prime-time host), dating back to the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. His favorite all-time Olympics moment, or as close as one gets for him, came in Atlanta in 1996, when Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch at Turner Field to open the XXVI Summer Games. "It was such a well-kept se- all more or less thinking the same thing: Here's a guy who once was the most controversial athlete on the planet, and now he's a figure of reconciliation. And he once was the most agile and nimble and beautiful of ath- letes, and now he's in the throes of this affliction and shaking like a leaf. These contradictions made it really dramatic." Of course, one of the big stars of the next 17 days - along with Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Rafael Nadal, Alicia Sacramone and the rest of the estimated 10,500 athletes representing 204 countries - will be the city of London itself. cret," Costas recalls, "... and in truth Dick Enberg and I did not know. We had begun to suspect, but we didn't know for sure. I think there were a half-dozen people who even knew. Dick Ebersol (then the president of NBC Sports) was one of them because it was his idea, actually, and he had to sell (President and CEO) Billy Payne and the Olympic committee on it. "But when Ali kind of stepped out of the shadows," he contin- ues, "you heard a sound that you don't often hear in a gigantic, filled-to-capacity stadium, and that was a gasp, an audible gasp that was then followed by a short burg's third Olympics and first since 1948. While it is a given that the host city will put its best foot forward, and its country- men and women will put on a big medal push, London has another feature no other locale can match. British royalty will make its presence known in several ways, from Queen Elizabeth II opening the Games to Princes Harry and William and Catherine, Duch- ess of Cambridge, serving as official "Olympic ambassadors" and Zara Phillips - daughter of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips and granddaughter of the queen - competing in equestrian. Royalty watchers will certainly be in their glory, but Costas takes a more pragmatic view of London. "Obviously it's a great, great These Games represent the Bob Costas anchors NBC's prime-time coverage of the XXX Summer Olympics beginning Friday. bit of silence while people kind of processed this, and then this enormous roar both of excite- ment and appreciation and re- spect. You know, all of it. "There was so much bundled into that one moment, and you had tens of thousands of people city," he says, "with a history and a pop culture that Americans are familiar with and, I think, inter- ested in. ..." 3 x 3" ad 2 – JULY 22 - 28, 2012 – BRAINERD, MN/DISPATCH 1 x 4" ad 2 x 4" ad

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