Editor’s Note: How does an ESPN program go from idea to pilot to reality? Ron Wechsler, ESPN Vice President for Content Development, gives us a peek at the evolution of SEC: Storied. It’s a new documentary series project for ESPNU debuting in September. Here’s Part 1 of Wechsler’s account of how SEC: Storied came to be.
This February, the fine folks at ESPNU asked the ESPN Content Development (ECD) team to re-imagine a block of programming for the Southeastern Conference.
Previously, we had partnered with the SEC to produce a show called SEC Weekly, which (if you follow the logic of the title) was a weekly show recapping the highlights of the SEC.
While it was well produced, the SEC was looking for a series that was a little more signature in nature, and asked us to come up with a creative concept.
We worked on it for a few weeks and put together a proposal for a magazine show along the lines of E:60.
Once a month, we’d explore 2-3 stories in more depth and over a wider range of topics than the format for SEC Weekly had allowed.
When we completed the proposal, myself, John Dahl (Executive Producer, ECD), Dan Margulis (ESPNU’s Director of Programming and Acquisitions) and Chris Turner (ESPN Senior Director, SEC programming) had a conference call with the SEC.
In a polite Southern manner, the SEC explained to us that while they appreciated the proposal, they were looking for something more in the vein of 30 for 30.
We discussed what that meant, from both a budgetary and editorial perspective.
On the monetary front, to maintain the quality of a series like 30 for 30, we explained that we had to limit the amount of shows we could provide in the school calendar year to approximately 4-5 documentaries.
On the editorial front, it meant that we had to be willing to explore topics that may be tonally complicated in nature.
Frankly, we thought that both of those parameters might give pause to the SEC, but we were pleased when they agreed to proceed with that strategy.
The result is a new series entitled Storied, which will premiere with the film Herschel on Sept. 7 at 8pm on ESPNU.
The film will center on former University of Georgia great and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.
Next time out, we’ll discuss how we came to choose the production company and director for the series, as well as the selection process behind the first few topics Storied would focus on.