What does an ESPN employee do while waiting for an interview subject? Hang out with Kevin Costner while he plays guitar — between takes of his movie shoot — practicing some riffs to play with his Kevin Costner & Modern West country-rock band.
“It was something totally different for a Feature Producer,” said Dominique Ponticiello-Collins, who found herself on assignment in Shaker Heights, Ohio with ESPN reporter Greg Garber for a behind-the-scenes piece on the making of the football-themed movie Draft Day scheduled for release next year.
Other than being able to drop names like actors Costner, Denis Leary, Jennifer Garner and director Ivan Reitman (who also helmed Stripes and Ghostbusters, and produced Animal House, Space Jam), Ponticiello-Collins got to see how other behind-the-scenes folks do things, too.
“The detail how they create a set is amazing,” she said of having the day’s shoot take place in a faux Cleveland Browns office area — the real offices were under construction forcing the relocation. “We don’t recreate things, we don’t stage things for our pieces — we shoot live — so it was really cool to see how they did it. They had NFL trophies, but with the actors’ [characters’] names on them to look authentic. Even Greg, who has been in their offices, said, ‘Wow, this looks exactly the same.’”
Of course, Ponticiello-Collins is glad to drop names, too.
“Leary was hilarious. I wish I could get the chance to hang with him,” she said.
Ponticiello-Collins, a Boston College grad who joined ESPN three years ago, did get to talk Boston sports with Leary, an Emerson College alum, noting he was both bummed and tired after watching the Boston Bruins lose an NHL Stanley Cup overtime game to the Chicago Blackhawks the night before.
“Greg and I talked about the experience, and he said that working at ESPN, we sometimes become jaded because we always work with athletes,” she said. “But to see actors up close, as real persons, is totally different for us.”
The television version of the Ponticiello-Collins/Garber piece on “Draft Day,” about the pressures the Cleveland Browns GM faces, debuts today on NFL Live (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2). See the online version below.