Behind The ScenesESPN FantasyNFL

Behind the scenes of ESPN’s FF Marathon open, debuting tonight at 7 ET

Tonight in primetime, ESPN will kick off a first-time event – a 28-hour Fantasy Football Marathon.

Over the next two nights – and all hours in between, ESPN and ESPN2 will get fans ready for the NFL season with a blitz of fantasy football information.

The first show is the five-hour SportsCenter Special: Fantasy Football Rankings (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) featuring a star ensemble – Michelle Beadle, Trey Wingo, Kenny Mayne, Matthew Berry, Adam Schefter, Michael Smith, Louis Riddick and comedian Frank Caliendo.

The program will kick off with a big opening video featuring Berry, ESPN’s foremost fantasy expert and one of the primary faces of the Fantasy Football Marathon.

E:60 coordinating producer Ben Houser, who was tasked with creating the show open, spoke with Front Row about the project. His team also produced the behind-the-scenes video above from the shoot with Berry.

We finalized the script early last week, and completed the main shoot on ESPN’s Bristol campus last Thursday. The cameos with [New York] Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Super Bowl MVP [Denver Broncos linebacker] Von Miller were shot in their respective training camps. We also shot with [comedian] Keegan-Michael Key of “Key & Peele.”
– Ben Houser, E:60 coordinating producer and creator of the FF Marathon Open

How will your video be used in the Fantasy Football Marathon?
The goal of the open is to set the tone for the ESPN Fantasy Football Marathon. Matthew is preparing to be on TV for 28 straight hours. How will he prepare? Matthew is inherently funny and embraced the concept. The open will debut at 7 p.m. on ESPN and will air periodically throughout the marathon. It can also be seen on our social media handles and on ESPN.com.

How long did it take to pull everything together?
[Executive Vice President, Production] Norby Williamson commissioned the tease about four weeks ago. We had several superb brainstorming sessions with him, Senior creative director Chris Mantzaris and myself. The script has changed multiple times based on the cameos, and input from all parties involved. The final product is a collaboration with Maggievision, the production company that produces the ESPYS.

We finalized the script early last week, and completed the main shoot on ESPN’s Bristol campus last Thursday. The cameos with [New York] Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Super Bowl MVP [Denver Broncos linebacker] Von Miller were shot in their respective training camps. We also shot with [comedian] Keegan-Michael Key of “Key & Peele.”

Berry has an extensive background as a television writer and producer. What kind of an actor is he?
Matthew is very good. His unique style and delivery are an added layer to the writing. He is very passionate about fantasy and he brought that same attitude to his acting. He came with ideas, script tweaks and a few impromptu lines. The multiple wardrobe changes, from casual to a tuxedo, to a blue suit, to sweats, back to the tuxedo, made for a long day in the changing room, but he rolled with it.

ESPN associate producer Brian Rivera produced and edited the behind-the-scenes video above.
Maggievision, in collaboration with ESPN’s Chris Mantzaris, Ben Houser and Norby Williamson, produced the actual program open airing tonight at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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