Inside production of Hannah Storm’s InFocus profiles of Scully, Rousey, Strong and Plank
Tonight’s SportsCenter Special: InFocus with Hannah Storm (7 ET, ESPN) goes hiking with UFC bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey, checks out what’s new at Texas with football coach Charlie Strong and what’s newer at Under Armour with CEO Kevin Plank. It also visits the “home” of Vin Scully, the iconic voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for 65 years.
Producer Chad Minutillo, who joined ESPN in 2009 after graduating from Penn State, says InFocus “puts a new twist” on Storm’s Face to Face series.
“We wanted to profile all different types of people who have impacted sports in more ways than one,” he said. “Charlie Strong is a pioneer in some ways, the first African-American head coach in the history of men’s sports at Texas – that was shocking to me. I mean, how many sports do they have at Texas? And Kevin Plank has taken a simple idea and turned it into to a $3 billion business to become Nike’s No. 1 competitor. People have heard of [Nike Chairman] Phil Knight, but who’s heard of Kevin Plank?”
– Chad Minutillo, producer of InFocus with Hannah Storm, on a shoot in the Hollywood Hills with UFC fighter Ronda Rousey
While Strong walks viewers through all the changes he’s made at the Longhorns athletic facility, and Plank shows off his Baltimore headquarters including technological advances 10 years away, Minutillo’s favorite piece is the hike up the Hollywood Hills with Rousey.
“The climb to the top is a subtle metaphor for the rise of her career in Hollywood,” said Minutillo, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native. “And, if you turn on the TV and see her in a gym, you might not stop, but an interview on the edge of a cliff overlooking LA? That may draw your attention. It was a difficult shoot logistically – all the gear, the cameras, lights, had to be carried up by hand — no cars allowed. The crew tried to talk me out of it, but it was definitely worth it.”
A much less challenging and almost obvious shoot was for Scully, who Minutillo said, “is on the top of everyone’s ‘want to meet’ list.”
“We couldn’t do him anywhere else but in his ‘house,’ the broadcast booth at Dodger Stadium,” Minutillo said. “We were able to show his pre-game routine and give some perspective on what the game looks like from his seat every night for the last 65 years.”
Eliciting professional and personal anecdotes from broadcasters, entrepreneurs, coaches or fighters eventually comes down to the show’s host, and Minutillo says, “Hannah’s great.”
Munutillo, who cites producer Luis Aldea for his work on tonight’s program, adds, “She’s conversational and engaging. Often the guests are media trained, but she gets in there, puts them in a relaxed environment and gets the information she needs.”
Editor’s note: SportsCenter Special: In Focus with Hannah Storm (tonight, 7 ET, ESPN) will profile four people who’ve been “In Focus” during the last 12 months: Vin Scully; Ronda Rousey; Kevin Plank; Charlie Strong. The program (re-airs July 28, 8 p.m., ESPN2; August 2, 4 p.m., ABC; August 3, 8 p.m., ESPN2) also will present vignettes of other impactful sports figures over the past year, including Russell Wilson, Dale Earnhart Jr., Adam Silver, Michael Sam and Doc Rivers.