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Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw’s blazing pencils have Jay Harris on edge in latest This Is SportsCenter spot

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, known for his power and control when placing a baseball over the plate, shows those skills can be dangerous in the workplace in ESPN’s latest This is SportsCenter spot, debuting today.

As Kershaw nonchalantly tosses pencils toward the ceiling of his cube at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., SportsCenter anchor Jay Harris “fears” potential injury in the cube above. Front Row asked Harris for his take on the latest of his many This is SportsCenter appearances.

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Inside TISC with Wieden+Kennedy

Cyrus Coulter, Art Director, Wieden+Kennedy New York, provides more behind-the-scenes insight into the Clayton Kershaw spot.

How did you come up with the concept?
After hours of trying to come up with an idea for a commercial starring Clayton Kershaw, the team became bored and started throwing pencils at the ceiling. Then the idea struck us.

How did you make it appear as if the pencils are coming through the floor?
It was a mix of post-production movie magic type stuff and some really low-fi stuff. The shot of the pencil sticking in the ceiling was achieved by tying a piece of fishing line into a pencil that was stuck in the ceiling and pulling it out. Then we reversed the film.

What direction was given to Jay Harris?
Jay was great. We told him to stare at the floor and look terrified. He took it from there. He did a lot of variations of escaping his cube, jumping out of the way, hiding in his chair, etc. In the end, the slow chair wheel-out with the near miss seemed funniest.

How many pencils did Kershaw have to throw?
Clayton probably threw about 50 pencils in the course of a few hours. Of those, only one actually stuck in the ceiling. And one almost killed me.

What is on Kershaw’s computer screen?
Clayton was shopping for bath towels, which are taupe and not cream color.

Any interesting anecdotes about the shoot?
Clayton had an entourage of 30 and requested only blue M&Ms in his dressing room. OK, that’s not true. Truth is, he was a great actor for such a young guy. Watch out for him.

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Are you a trained actor or were you truly scared of being impaled by a Kershaw-launched pencil?
Classically trained, Julliard School. Kidding. I was truly scared of being impaled by a pencil. But I had to pretend the pencil was really there.

You don’t appear in a scene with Kershaw, but did you get to spend some time with him. What was that like? Are you a Dodgers fan?
I got to spend a little time with Clayton, because we shot our parts at different times. We did take some pictures, and we chatted for a few minutes. He seems like a really nice guy. I’m a Pirates fan, but I’m a Kershaw fan now.

Have they fixed the carpeting in your office since this shoot?
No, the carpeting still has holes. There’s a work order in.

What was your first TISC ad?
I believe my first was “Anchor Cam” with John Buccigross. That camera on his head, to give the viewers a “different” experience, is a great idea, might I add.

How accurate is the portrayal of Bristol in the spots?
I think it’s pretty accurate, as far as there always seems to be some athlete or entertainer walking around campus, being a guest on some show. Not so much where the mascots are concerned — but that would be fun.

Wieden + Kennedy New York is the creative agency for the spot and the This is SportsCenter campaign, which has featured more than 400 spots since its launch in 1995.

Tonight, the Dodgers take on the New York Mets on Wednesday Night Baseball Presented by T-Mobile at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.

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