ESPN The Magazine introduces its first-ever “Music issue”, recognition of the converging worlds of sports and entertainment (on newsstands Friday).
Front Row caught up with Stacey Pressman, contributing writer and producer for ESPN and The Mag and Senior Deputy Photo Editor Nancy Weisman for the inside scoop on the issue’s “Photo Act” section: Fourteen athletes re-create some of the most memorable album covers ever.
The athletes’ playlists are on ESPN.com’s Playbook “Sounds” page.
Can you take us through some of the planning and the scope of this project?
SP: The idea for this came up around April 2012 when we found out that a “Music Issue” was on the table. This Photo Act was nine months in the making. Nancy and I had worked together in 2010 on the “Movie Issue” where we recreated iconic movie scenes with athletes. So when we knew we were doing this issue, I really pushed for a Photo Act that would recreate iconic album covers.
What challenges did you face?
SP: Finding the right athlete as well as spanning different sports, music genres and finding covers that were worth doing. A lot of these athletes are young and album covers are not on their radar, so it was a lot of back and forth on interest, music, execution, and of course, schedule until we found the right fit. And with the group shots, getting high profile guys together in one place, is always a bit tricky.
What were some of the funny, behind-the-scenes stories?
NW: [Olympic track star] Allyson Felix as singer Beyonce. Clearly, you can’t buy [Beyonce’s top] or find it in a prop house. Fortunately we found one of the best costume designers, In-House Atelier, who also designs costumes for Lady Gaga, Beyonce [her Super Bowl attire], Shakira and others. It took 35 hours to make that top from chains and Swarovski elements.
SP: That Devo baseball crew was about 15 different combinations of MLB players before we ended up with our current cast. We had it down to Bryce Harper and a few others. Towards crunch time, we were able to get Shane Victorino, though we had the fifth suit made the size of Giancarlo Stanton, who is 6 feet, 5 inches tall and 250 pounds. If you look closely at the photo, Shane, who is 5-9, 190 pounds, is clearly swimming in his suit.
Why was Victorino wearing a suit made for someone much bigger?
SP: We had to have the suits made ahead of time, at the end of December. Shane wasn’t committed until a few days before … so we had to make that last suit big because we didn’t know who we would get. Jered Weaver was a possibility and he’s 6-7. But we ended up with [Shane].