Behind The Scenes

Cardboard cutups Flat Sara and Flat Bram make weekend SportsCenter appearance

The “toss” (above) lasted less than 40 seconds. It was little more than a creative way to throw Saturday morning’s SportsCenter to John Anderson and the team covering the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, NC.

But for anchors Sara Walsh, Bram Weinstein and associate producer Kat Seelig the attempt to tie in Cameron Wilson’s unique story of potentially needing a cardboard stand-in for Stanford’s graduation, this was a labor of (corrugated) love.

Below, Front Row gives a brief oral history of how Flat Sara and Flat Bram – in the fine tradition of Flat Stanley – were birthed.

Sara Walsh: It was actually my idea after I heard Gene Wojciechowski’s report on the kid from the US Open on Wednesday.

Bram Weinstein: Sara wanted us to have cutouts made for the weekend. . . So we enlisted Kat Seelig, who weekly gets asked to make a lot of our more intricate stunts happen and as usual she came through huge.

Flat Sara & Flat Bram, By the Numbers
Sheets on foamboard: 8
X-acto blades used: 5
Bleeding fingers (of Kat Seelig): 4 (bandages, 5)
Number of video tapes to weigh down photo while gluing: 18
People involved in crafting the standup bases: 4
Glue dots used: ~150

An email from Bram to the show crew included this: “. . . We are making life sized cutouts. Kat Seelig is CC’d on this email. . . She will be producing the item.”

Kat Seelig: It was about as weird as I expected when they told me they had a project for me, but I worked with Bram on “The Beat,” back when that was a show, and we’d done a lot more far-out stuff there – with no budget – so this was a pretty good draw.

Weinstein: Sara had an ESPN Images photo used for her life-size cutout. My photos weren’t available, so my wife, Heather, who is a professional photographer took a picture of me at our home. What you don’t see is Spider the cat making a creepy face near my feet.

After Seelig’s Thursday email update to the group on her trials and tribulations with a copy center and a home improvement store (for supplies to make sure the cutouts would stand on their own), coordinating producer Michael Epstein sent this email: “When Kat leaves ESPN and becomes a middle school art teacher we’re going to point to today as the impetus. . .”

Selig: I started [Friday] picking up the printed photos at the copier place, and then was off to buy more foamboard than I’ve ever bought at once in my life, and an ergonomic X-acto knife. (I did a giant Ed Werder head with the usual kind and my hand ached for days)

Weinstein: The email updates on the cut out progress were hilarious and included one story of someone trying to take my cutout with them for reasons unknown. Kat caught this person in the act.

Walsh: I am a little disappointed Bram’s had a kidnapping attempt and mine didn’t. Although, after it aired, I had many folks on Twitter ask where they could place an order for one.

On Friday night, the cutouts were stored safely in the newsroom:

Seelig’s email update read: The biggest question mark is if they can keep their feet when they’re moved. Sara’s needs some video tapes in the base to weigh it down; Bram’s will stand on his own, but is susceptible to a breeze. Either way, both are fragile at the joints, and might need additional glue dots tomorrow.”

Seelig: Saturday morning, it appeared both Flat Bram and Flat Sara had a rough night and needed morning repairs. Flat Bram’s head had fallen over, and Flat Sara’s last joint (ankles) had come apart. I used glue dots and reworked the base. . . and they stood again.

Walsh: I forgot to match my outfit to the outfit in the picture so when I arrived at 6 a.m. on Saturday, I turned around and went right back home and got it. If you’re gonna go all in, you go all in!

Weinstein: Of course our production crew, including our director Rich Kvietkus, really shot it and sold the story well. Now, as for what we do with these things now, I assume if I leave it anywhere in public view, it will have a mustache or dress painted on it within hours.

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