When ESPN’s week-long presentation of the Special Olympics from Los Angeles hits air this week, viewers will be introduced to 6,500 athletes from 165 countries, looking to support and inspire one another and compete to win medals in their respective sports. The Games will have a familiar feel with an opening ceremony (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN) featuring a Parade of Athletes march, eight musical acts, 500 dancers, the torch relay and the lighting of the cauldron, and a visit from the First Lady.
A year of preparation went into the production by a crew fresh off the ESPYS Countdown red carpet show and on the tail end of a months-long stay in LA. Coordinating producer Bill Bonnell and coordinating director Lorenzo LaMadrid have been at the helm of both shows and are gearing up for first-ever live coverage of the Opening Ceremony to the Special Olympics World Games.
What’s it like producing two major shows back to back?
Bonnell: The degree of difficulty is enormous but I’m confident in the team that we’ve put in place with Lorenzo, John “Lobo” Labovich and Kate Jackson, to name a few. I live for big events. So, being a part of the live ESPYS red carpet show and sitting down to produce the three-hour live broadcast of the Special Olympic World Games Opening Ceremony is a dream come true. It’s an honor to be able to bring to our audience an event like this, building awareness and spreading the word of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities.
How did you prepare for this broadcast?
LaMadrid: Bill and I made several visits to Los Angeles to meet with the company producing the actual event and determined where to place our ESPN set and our 25 cameras needed to be to provide the best view of the events inside the Los Angeles Coliseum.
What can viewers expect to see?
Bonnell: The Special Olympics will be about incredible storytelling from around the world. Our focus will be on doing a great job of capturing the incredible stories of remarkable athletes, while also adding a bit of competition coverage.
What are you looking forward to most with this event?
LaMadrid: I’m most looking forward to seeing the excitement and pride on the faces of all the athletes as they enter the LA Coliseum to watch the amazing Opening Ceremony show that has been prepared for them.
What should people know about the production of the Special Olympics?
LaMadrid: The hundreds of people involved have worked tirelessly to make the entire event memorable for the athletes and everyone watching. They are pouring their hearts and souls into making this a memorable week.