Everyone is talking about ESPN’s The Last Dance. The docu-series is routinely pulling down big audiences and drawing interest across a wide spectrum of media. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic sat down with director Jason Hehir for a column that came out on Monday to discuss how the interviews with Michael Jordan came together.
Hehir revealed that a lot of the way the film was made was influenced by a conversation he had with Ezra Edelman, director of the Oscar-winning 30 for 30 docu-series OJ Simpson: Made in America.
“He asked me why I wanted to interview Michael first and I said that that’s just what I normally do,” Hehir told Deitsch. “I told him I get the first big one out of the way and then kind of have all these other interviews rotate around them like a satellite. Ezra said that’s not the way he would do it. By the end of that dinner, I decided that he was right for a story this big. I needed to get certain basics down first before I went to Michael.”
One device Hehir has used that has become a favorite of the audience is Jordan reacting to video of other people talking about interactions with him. The director revealed that it was a practice designed to make sure The Last Dance featured new quotes and perspectives from someone that has had every moment of his basketball career dissected and fawned over.
“My goal all along was: He’s been asked every question so let’s deviate from the format in which he’s been asked these questions in the past. And that might mean pulling out an iPad or showing him the clip on an iPhone.”
Michael Jordan sat down with Hehir and his crew for three separate interviews during a span of 15 months in the making of The Last Dance. The first conversation and the final one each lasted three hours. Hehir told Dietsch that spending that much time with the main characters of a documentary is a common practice. In fact, in comparison to some of his past documentaries, the total time Hehir spent with Jordan was minuscule in scale.
“To put it in perspective: Andre the Giant (which Hehir directed for HBO) was 80 minutes long and we got Vince McMahon for five and a half hours over the course of two days,” He told Deitsch. “The Fab Five was 100 minutes long and I got Jalen Rose for seven hours. So I wasn’t asking Michael to have those same proportions. I wasn’t going to ask him to give me 80 hours to get 10 hours.”
The full interview sheds light on how Hehir approached difficult subjects including Jordan’s gambling, the death of his father, and the rumor that his 1993 retirement was a way to cover up what was really a suspension.
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”
Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’
“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”
Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.