Behind The Scenes

Stan Verrett and Funny or Die help “Tournament Challenge” challenged

With the hours ticking away until brackets are due, the video above is, perhaps, the most important (mock) Public Service Announcement you will see this week. In it, a concerned group of actors, athletes, comedians and even an ESPN SportsCenter anchor – Stan Verrett – lend their voices to help the hundreds of thousands who are challenged by the ESPN Tournament Challenge.

“The mock PSA is just another way we hope to surprise fans and create more buzz around the tournament through viral video content and social media,”said ESPN senior director of marketing, Scott Parker. “Our ‘Choose Wisely’ campaign for Tournament Challenge (developed by Wieden + Kennedy) depicts the odd and unconventional ways fans fill out their brackets. To extend the campaign, we worked with the talented team at Funny or Die to deliver a star-studded, humorous depiction of the trials and tribulations fans go through in making their picks.”

In addition to Verrett, the spot includes Chris O’Donnell (Robin from Batman), Questlove (The Roots/Conan), Matthew Morrison (Glee), Janina Gavanker (True Blood), Ahna O’Reilly (The Help), Mark Valley (Boston Legal, Stolen), Orlando Jones (Mad TV), Alphonso McAuley (Breaking In), Casey Abrahams (American Idol), Haley Reinhart (American Idol), Cody Horn (former Ralph Lauren model, The Office), Jahvid Best (Detroit Lions), Calais Campbell (Arizona Cardinals), Jared Campbell (actor, brother of Calais Campbell), Eric Wright (NFL free agent), Adam Lustick (comedic actor), Nick Nicotera (comedic actor), Mike Bribiglia (comedic actor) and Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy).

“The folks at Funny or Die have a great relationship with Creative Artists Agency, which represents me,” said Verrett, who plays a group counselor in the spot. “They did all the legwork to make it happen. Plus, Will Ferrell was the founder of Funny or Die, and he caddies for me whenever I want to play golf.

“Ok, I made the part about Will Ferrell up.”

Verrett’s scene was filmed at Funny or Die’s studio in Hollywood.

“The NFL guys guys were funny,” he said. “And the actors who were involved had some really funny lines. Some of the improv stuff was funnier than the stuff in the final cut!”

Verrett’s “costume” consisted of a white lab coat, something he was fairly comfortable in. “My mom is a scientist, so I’m no stranger to the lab, or a lab coat,” he said. “I thought it was a good look.”

Despite acting as a professional bracket counselor, Verrett claims he’s “not a bracket guy. I just like to watch and enjoy the games,” he said. “I like Kentucky a lot, and I also like Duke’s coaching and guard play. Tom Izzo always has his teams ready to play this time of year as well, and their toughness always seems to show when it matters most.”

What matters most now, in these final hours of bracket construction, is to help those challenged by the Tournament Challenge. You can make a difference – share the PSA!

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