Thursday, February 25, 2010

Through The Looking Glass

It's rare when the story-tellers become the story. But on this occasion The Columbus (MS) Dispatch and one very thorough reporter tried "keeping up with Eric Posman and Dave Burchett," at least on one afternoon.

Adam Minichino's main beat is Mississippi State athletics, but threw us for a little bit of a loop when he walked into our truck wearing an old-school San Diego Padres jacket. He seemed sharp, asked good questions and talked to a lot of people. I thought it would be a nice little feature in the hometown paper.

It turned out to dominate the Sunday sports section - a central story with 8 sidebars, focusing on the talent, the replay operators, and the producer's opening format among other things.

We kept the language clean, and stayed away from off-color jokes (except one from the director - just ask him about it). I even had to turn around and say "Don't print that!" But generally it was the only time I thought about being observed.

My only issue was there was no picture of me, the producer. There is a photo of director Dave Burchett very much in his domain.

There were pictures of the announcers, audio guy, tape room. Why not me? I guess the photog was afraid of the glare.

Not only do I have a face for radio, but a head that can't make the daily rag.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Death, Taxes, and T-Town's One-Track Mind

It was a long week full of travel delays, dying laptops, and a long-ass road trip with the kids through the snow (SNOW?) in Alabama. But there's one thing you know you can count on at the end of the road: Tuscaloosa's year-long football season.

For example, the "A" Club Football BBQ Cook-Off at Bryant-Denny Stadium, featuring such exhilarating celebs from the Crimson Tide's past as Ray Perkins and Siran Stacy, had an attendance of 4,500...about half of the Alabama/Arkansas basketball game just down the street at Coleman Coliseum (the reason I was there).

I paid my respects at Coach Bear Bryant's statue, half-hoping he'd make me run some suicides. But he just stared back at me, grumbling "Yankee" under his breath.

Wonder when the Nick Saban statue goes up? They've got the spot for it (not kidding), just a few feet away. And it will be up by next football season.

The obsession with Alabama football has got to end. I married a Crimsonette (there's an old expression that Crimsonettes make beautiful babies, but lousy wives) and married into an Alabama football family. After my Tuscaloosa assignment ended, I went to pick up the kids at the in-laws, and I made sure the kids shouted "War Eagle!" instead of goodbye.

As of Valentine's Day 2010, we are an Auburn family. We're going to end this unhealthy obsession one family at a time.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Backtime Speech Writer: Bob Huggins Edition

We applaud Bob Huggins' decisiveness to take the mic when his own fans were becoming unruly. "That's stupid!" Huggins chided the crowd, urging them to turn in anyone throwing anything onto the floor.

The Backyard Brawl, West Virginia's storied rivalry with Pitt often gets chippy to say the least, but when objects come hurtling out of the crowd that's when a stand needed to be taken.

Pitt assistant coach Tom Herrion was still hit in the face with a coin. This on the heels of home dates against Ohio State and Louisville, when the West Virginia home crowd made some very unsavory and disrespectful chants.

Now hated rival Pitt was in town, and the behavior convergence had reached a boiling point. Huggins' words were admirable but not 100% effective.

So we at Backtime have crafted a new address to the Mountaineer faithful before Monday's big game at Villanova.

I am proud to be a Mountaineer. I have played here, I have coached here and you are the best fans in the world... But there are individuals in this building that give you all a bad name.

If any of you see anyone trying to cause harm, I want them out of here. I will take my team off the floor, and we will play the rest of our home games in an empty gym if we have to.

This team works like hell to make you proud of them... Make them proud of you.

-Bob Huggins, two days from now

Monday, February 1, 2010

Big Mad Made Bad Men

I think I've found the formula for the one-hour serial drama, or at least the ones I can't live without: The leading man as anti-hero.

Yes there are layers and complexity and some goodness, but each lives by his own moral compass and will do whatever it takes to preserve the life they've created.

Tony Soprano was the original iconic character of this type. He was the mob boss with a conscience - or at least a sense of one, that was driving him into panic attacks and depression.

He preyed on weaker sorts and stepped on anyone that got in his way, but you could always feel the underlying sense of responsibility. And so could the multitudes that made HBO the new Must-See-TV.

Mad Men's Don Draper certainly seems like an idealist. But he lives off the the identity of a slain military mate. He is a professional scoundrel and serial philanderer. Yet he has million-dollar ideas scrawled out on cocktail napkins and an air of invulnerability, so he is respected by all.

In Breaking Bad, Walter White isn't cut from the same cloth. He was the stooge, a victim of unfulfilled promise on the road to nowhere and had a date with terminal cancer. So the chemistry teacher made his own destiny, creating the purest grade of crystal meth on the market. The series doesn't dwell on the effect of the drugs in the community (which is bad enough), but it does graphically show the death and destruction left in Walt's wake. Yet we still root for him.

Which leads me to Big Love and Bill Henrickson, the self-righteous husband of three and father of eight. Bill may have finally turned down a darker path with his foray into politics, and a campaign for State Senator.

Bill's ability to talk to people and tell them how things have to be is what's most admirable about him. He has Heavenly Father on his side, or at least he's 100% certain that he does. He is straight and true no matter how many dumpster-fires are popping up all over his rather large family. "This will be resolved." has become Bill's mantra.

First Wife Barb is stepping all over toes at the family-owned, tribal-run Casino.

Second Wife Nikki has always been the train wreck. Now she looks to be straightening out the ship for herself and her estranged teenage daughter, but her polygamist compound ties are pulling her back.

Third Wife Margene is the mid-20s hottie whose career is taking off as a QVC-style jewelry hawk. As one of three wives, she's not getting the attention from Bill, and has turned a longing eye at Bill's 18-year old son Ben.

Daughter Sarah took in a meth-head and her son. The Mom took off, and Sarah's been playing Mommy to the baby without alerting authorities.

Brother Joey killed Roman Grant "The Prophet of Juniper Creek," then burned the body. Now he's being blackmailed by Nikki's ex-husband, who has his sights set on being the next prophet.

And forget about Bill's nutjob parents.

But maybe the most heart-breaking move Bill had to make was in his cutthroat political race. He fed Don Embry to the wolves, making him fall guy for a polygamist scandal in Home Plus, Bill's home improvement franchise.

Don was Bill's managing partner and spiritual confidant, and Bill made him "take the bullet" so he could maintain his political campaign.

Now Bill has cast out (in some form) both his son and his closest ally, the two men he entrusted to be Priesthood Holders in the newly-minted Church Of Bill, or whatever it's called.

So while Bill's lifestyle choices and manipulation skills have always been present in what is now the 4th season of Big Love, now he has to make the hard choices and turn his back on the people he's closest with. All in the name of Bill Enterprise.

Bill has flipped, over-reaching with his time, businesses and ambition, and his pride is bringing out qualities we don't like quite as much.

But the show has turned the corner too. Big Love was once quirky and unconventional, almost a comedy. Now the problems are serious and the mood is much darker, and Bill mirrors that.