For Openers, Ceremonies Are Still a Big Surprise

No one is allowed to talk about the specifics, but NBC is doing its best to pump up the opening ceremonies as the centennial Olympics get under way tonight.

The highlight of the opening ceremonies in Barcelona four years ago was the bow-and-arrow lighting of the Olympic torch.

"Barcelona was great, this is better," said NBC producer David Neal, who is in charge of the 5-9 p.m. television coverage.

"It is a spectacular, Hollywood-type show. I've seen bits and pieces of it six times. I know things about what they have in mind, and I'm more excited because I know."

Don Mishner is both the producer of the opening ceremonies and the director of the world television feed.

"He is the only one qualified to do both jobs," said Neal. "For most of the pageantry, we'll just punch his buttons."

But Neal, a 1978 USC graduate who grew up in Woodland Hills and attended Taft High, will have 25 cameras at his disposal to supplement the world feed.


Following the opening ceremonies on Channel 4, and after a half-hour news break, will be a local show, "Fred Roggin's Road to Atlanta," at 9:30 p.m.

Southern California Olympians such as Janet Evans, Fernando Vargas and Mike Powell are among more than a dozen who will be profiled, and others will be mentioned.

"This special was six months in the making," Roggin said. "It is the ultimate map for Southern Californians on who to watch during the Olympics. By our count, there are 45 Southern Californians in the Olympics."

Roggin credits producer Ron Gralnik and post- production editor Juan Jones for doing most of the work.


People still seem unclear on telecast times, so here is a rundown.

Weekend coverage is expanded and varied, but weekdays have a set schedule.

The NBC weekday morning block is 9 a.m.-noon and is delayed two hours. The morning block in the East runs 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Channel 4 will have local news at 3 p.m., then comes NBC network news at 3:30, followed by another half-hour of local news at 4 p.m.

Then NBC's prime-time Olympics block runs 4:30-9 p.m., which coincides with the 7:30-midnight Eastern schedule. Two six-minute local news breaks will be inserted into the prime-time coverage.

From 9-9:35 comes more local news, followed by a nightly five-minute Jay Leno spot.

Then there's NBC's late-night block, 9:41 to 11:11, followed by more local news. At 11:46, NBC will repeat its morning block.

Why so much local news? Because affiliates have to make up for the combined $60 million they threw in to help cover the $456-million price tag NBC paid for the Olympic broadcast rights.

The affiliates were willing to cough up the money to keep the Olympics on NBC exclusively so their sales staffs would not have to compete with the lower prices a cable outlet would charge for advertising.


Olympics on radio: KIEV (870) is carrying coverage provided by the Culver City-based Westwood One network every night from 7-9 p.m. Tonight's opening ceremonies will follow Irv Kaze's show at 6.

KFWB (980) is carrying Westwood One's three-minute reports at 15 minutes past the hour every hour except one--no reports at 1:15 a.m. (4:15 in the East)--and updates at 45 minutes past the hour. KABC (790) and KMPC (710) will carry morning updates from ABC Radio.

The Chicago-based One-on-One radio network is providing coverage for spectators in Atlanta, who will be given lightweight radios with a special built-in frequency.


Ted Turner was shut out in his attempt to acquire a piece of the television broadcast rights, but his Atlanta-based CNN will still have 15 full-time correspondents covering the games and 100 people working the coverage.

"NBC won the events, but that's not going to stop us," said Jim Walton, CNN senior vice president.

CNN is also playing host to several foreign television crews, providing studio space and equipment.

Turner and wife Jane Fonda will be attending the opening and closing ceremonies--they were given free tickets by the International Olympic Committee, as if they couldn't afford them--but in between they will be at their ranch in Montana and their spread in New Mexico.

Harvey Schiller, who heads up Turner Broadcasting's sports division, inadvertently ended up in an NBC ad in TV Guide for tonight's opening ceremonies. Schiller, former executive director of the U.S. Olympic committee, is shown with the U.S. delegation in Barcelona.

TV-Radio Notes

Dave Maggard, former University of California athletic director and currently the manager of sports for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG), will go to work for Turner Sports as a vice president on Sept. 1. . . . ESPN boxing commentator/singer Al Bernstein, who will work Olympic boxing for NBC, has cut a CD entitled "Let the Games Begin."

Prime Sports will televise the second California-Texas Shrine All-Star football game from Cal State Fullerton Sunday at 7 p.m., with Tom Kelly and XTRA's prep expert, John "the Coach" Kentera reporting. . . . NBC will televise a weekend game every week during the 10-week season of the new Women's NBA, which begins play June 21, 1997, and ESPN and Lifetime will do selected weeknight games. . . . ESPN seems to be branching out in every direction. It recently opened a 13,000-square foot sports bar/interactive entertainment center at the new BoardWalk at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and the second in a series of new sports magazines, ESPN Pro Football '96, hits newsstands this weekend.


Tuning In

A sampling of L.A. Nielsen ratings for sports programs July 13-14.



Event Ch. Rating Baseball: Angels-Seattle 11 3.9 Wide World of Sports: 7 3.9 Tour de France, auto racing Golf: Senior Players 7 3.1 Sports Show: horse racing 2 3.0 at Arlington (Cigar), boxing Golf: Celebrity tournament 4 2.0




Event Ch. Rating Soccer: FIFA All-Star game 34 4.1 Basketball: U.S.-Greece 4 3.8 Soccer: MLS All-Star game 34 3.1 Baseball: Angels-Seattle 9 2.7 Auto racing: IndyCar race 7 2.3 Golf: Celebrity tournament 4 2.5 Golf: Senior Players 7 2.1 Sports Show: motorcycles; boxing 2 1.8


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