"Hello, I'm Bob Costas, filling in tonight for Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira." I love the guy. So smart, witty, low-key and self-effacing. How terrific to have Costas back hosting.
Mary Carrillo discussed an upcoming, very long featurette she'll have about the infamous figure skating incident between Tanya Harding and Nancy Kerringan. They showed a brief segment, and Carrillo mentioned that Kerrigan has never talked about the situation, and that this was the first time she'd been convinced to do so. That might sound like a touch of TV hype, but it's not. A couple months ago, as part of its acclaimed 30 on 30 documentary series, ESPN did a full-length feature documentary on the incident, and had a great deal of participation from almost everyone, including Kerrigan's husband. But not Nancy Kerrigan. She wouldn't even talk to ESPN. So, NBC getting her to be interviewed on the subject is a big deal.
ESPN did get Tanya Harding. And she talked. And talked and talked. She has a very convincing way in her insistence of innocence. Except for the fact that she talks and talk and talks about it, coming off very Shakespearean. As in, "Methinks she doth protest too much." Besides which, for all her talking and protesting too much, there was virtually no sympathy for Nancy Kerrigan being brutally attacked and a great deal of self-sympathy for her being the victim. Mind you, Harding did lose a lot. But you get the sense watching her that she brought the loss on herself. Whether the attack was her idea, who knows? Her husband seems a pretty awful guy. But involvement can come in many shapes. And she just didn't come across well in the ESPN film. And that was the case, too, I thought, in the short NBC clip. I don't know the truth. But I know my suspicion.
Today -- Nordic Combined and 10,000 meter speed skating. Surely you all got up early morning to see both those, right?! I actually find much charm and comfort in the 10,000 meter race. While there's something dancing on the edge of mind-numbing boring about two people skating round and round in a circle for about 7 miles and 25 laps -- heat after heat after heat -- I sort of love the consistency and focus these skaters have for something so long. To be clear, no, even I don't have it in me to watch heat after heat after heat. The charm does were thin after a while. However, this year the race actually had a dramatic story to it. You may remember that four years ago, the great Norwegian skater Sven Kramer won the 10,000 in world record time -- the only Olympic race he'd competed in but hadn't won -- but his coach gave him the wrong instruction of when to switch lanes, and he was disqualified. So, the race was fascinating to watch. As for the Nordic Combined, it's another of those endless cross country events that have great texture for me, aided by the crazed commentary of Chad Salmela, made all the more textured today in the rain.
Hey, did you know that in the upcoming NBC show, Meet the Fishers, the really clever twist is that the father is actually...blind?? No, really, it's true. He's blind! Having watched so much of the Olympics, I have now seen these promos about 158 times. But I'm sure that even most people have seen them a dozen times at least. I think NBC has done a poor job with their promotion. After making clear in the first ads that the kid was being raised by a blind father...they should have then made a second set of ads that showed the series wasn't just a one-joke concept. I'm sure that it isn't (at least I hope not), but these one-joke ads don't give any sense of that.
I can't let the start of the bobsled event go without mention here in Bob Sledding, even though it was during primetime last night. Pilot Steven Holcomb broke a 62-year medal-less streak last Olympics in the 4-man bobsled. Last night, he broke a 62-year medal-less streak in the 2-man. I guess the guy knows a good thing when he sees it.
I always enjoy the video featurettes that Jimmy Roberts does. They're thoughtful, with a sense of historical perspective, and whimsical. He had a nice piece this morning about a Norwegian cross-country skier, though it wasn't one of his best. The focus was the guy's funny name, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, and how he's unknown in the U.S. but has a 98% recognizability in ski-crazy Norway. That's because he has the most medals (12) of anyone in Winter Olympics history, after this his sixth Games. He didn't do well in today's Nordic Combined, but he has two more events to go. I wish that NBC would make Roberts' featurettes (and Mary Carillo's, and Tom Brokaw's) available on the NBColympics.com site, so more people could see them, and I have no idea why they don't. A real loss and a bad mistake.
I was at least able to find a video on YouTube of Mary Carillo's piece on the history of vodka in Russia. Here it is. By the way, this ran while Bob Costas was still hosting, before having to take off for a few days due to his pink eye problem. After the video ran, they had a bottle of vodka on the set. To Carillo's surprise, Costas (a very low-key guy) poured a swig for both of them. She couldn't believe he really wanted them to have a drink on the set, but Costas commented, "My eyes can't get any redder."
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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