NBC has quite an experienced crew involved with this Super Bowl, from producer Fred Gaudelli (producing his sixth Super Bowl) to director Drew Esocoff (directing his sixth) to analyst Cris Collinsworth (calling his fourth) and play-by-play voice Al Michaels (calling his 10th). But the pressure around the big game never goes away, according to Gaudelli. In an interview with Nick Williams of The Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal this week, Gaudelli said there’s always the sense of how many people are watching:
This is the sixth time you will produce the Super Bowl. Do you still have butterflies when the cameras go live?
A thousand percent yes. Even for a Sunday night game, until the game actually begins, you’re wanting everything to be perfect, so yes, you definitely have those butterflies. With the Super Bowl, the one thing that never leaves you is the fact that this is the largest television event in America, if not the planet, and there’s over a 100 million people watching what you’re doing. You want everything to be perfect. That never leaves.
Gaudelli has some other notable comments in there, including his thoughts on how a Vikings’ home Super Bowl would have done:
Minnesota was so close to being in the Super Bowl and a team has never played in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Could that storyline play well for ratings?
I think it would have played really well. There have been 51 Super Bowls and it’s never been done. It would have been a ton of fun to be in town. What would have been interesting to me is how many tickets did the locals gobble up and would there have been that crazy run of Super Bowl tickets because it was going to be a one-time deal with your home team in the Super Bowl. America would have bought into that story and embraced it. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, it did not come to be.
Gaudelli has been making the media rounds this week, including speaking with Richard Deitsch on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast (which includes some good details on the nuts and bolts of NBC’s game coverage plans), talking to Adweek’s Jason Lynch about technology for this year’s broadcast (including 3D body scans of star players on both teams), and talking to Neil Best of Newsday about how he got to his current position as NBC Sports’ executive producer. That latter interview is notable for his comments on two media opportunities that got him started, working for campus radio station WCWP at Long Island University Post and interning with New York’s Channel 5 back when it was independent (it’s now the Fox affiliate).
Gaudelli credited the early influence of Bill Mozer, a media professional who ran WCWP like a business and did not make it easy to get on the air.
“He was a taskmaster,” Gaudelli said. “He didn’t cut you any slack, and what he taught you was if you were going to achieve anything, you have to work really hard for it. That experience was tremendous.”
The “next Marv Albert” called football and basketball and, for his grand finale, a conference championship baseball game played at Shea Stadium.
But it was during a senior-year internship at the Channel 5 show “Sports Extra,” with Bill Mazer and John Dockery, that Gaudelli decided he did not have the voice for play-by-play work and instead wanted to operate behind the scenes.
“We’d go in on Friday and cut highlights and on Sunday we’d be screening games and cutting more highlights,” he said. “That’s where that notion got put in my head where production might be the better route for me than to pursue an on-air role somewhere in the 189th market in the United States.”
Well, that’s certainly worked out for Gaudelli. He’s won 21 Emmys and has had a long run producing some of TV’s most prominent NFL broadcasts, including Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football. And at 57, there may be many more Super Bowls ahead for him. But it’s definitely interesting that someone with so much experience still gets a bit nervous about the big game, and that’s yet another sign of the scale of the Super Bowl.
[The Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal; photo from Mike Moore/NBC]