Behind The ScenesESPN CareersMonday Night FootballThe ESPN DifferenceWalt Disney CompanyWho Does That?Working @ ESPN

When Cheeseheads And Headbangers Collide: Brian Baumgartner, Bret Michaels Spice Up Tonight’s “Monday Night Football” Open

Before the Rams visit the Packers tonight, preview ESPN's Creative Content Unit's open featuring Green Bay fan and "The Office" star Baumgartner and music icon Michaels

Snow in Los Angeles? Cheese curds and chili by the pool in December?

ESPN’s Creative Content Unit (CCU) brought a wintery mix and some Wisconsin beer brats to a home in Encino, Calif., last week to shoot Monday Night Football’s Week 15 open.

With the help of Green Bay Packers fan Brian Baumgartner – famously known as Kevin Malone from “The Office” – and Bret Michaels – most notably known as lead singer for the rock band, Poison – ESPN is bringing fans a star-studded collaboration centered around the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay matchup (tonight, 8:15 ET, ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, ESPN+ & ESPN Deportes).

“We wanted to highlight the juxtaposition of the two cities, Los Angeles and Green Bay, especially in the month of December,” said Sammy Silver, Director, ESPN CCU. “The Winter Tundra and La La Land – the land of sunshine.

“This time of year, a Green Bay Packers fan living in Los Angeles is likely dreaming of watching a Packers game with cheese curds, friends, family, and of course, snow,” said Silver. “All while lounging in their pool in the Southern California sunshine.”

That Packers fan would end up being former “The Office” star Baumgartner, whose portrayal of the embattled Malone was a hallmark of the classic sitcom. His friendship with Aaron Rodgers also helped score a cameo appearance from the Packers quarterback.

“We honestly couldn’t think of anyone more perfect than Brian to bring this piece to life,” said Amanda Paschal, Managing Producer, ESPN CCU. “He is a huge Packers fan who lives in Southern California and understands the juxtaposition of both cities.”

Now that the CCU had their Packers fan and a picturesque Los Angeles home equipped with a pool, palm trees, and all the bells and whistles, they needed the second piece of the puzzle.

The CCU team enlisted the help of Joanne Strange, Music Operations Supervisor, to help pick the perfect anthem for the piece. Strange suggested “Nothin’ But a Good Time'” – a signature song for Michaels.

His rock star party persona (his upcoming tour is even called “Parti Gras”) would provide the perfect juxtaposition to Baumgartner’s character.

The result was a two-minute open showing Baumgartner enjoying the luxuries of Los Angeles life before Michaels arrives – with Rams and Packers fans in tow – to throw a party in the basement – filled with Baumgartner’s famous chili, cheese curds, and even some snow.

“I had an absolute blast working with the ESPN crew and Bret Michaels to help celebrate Monday Night Football,” said Baumgartner.

“In my house – Monday nights during football season are always a party – and I’m so excited for the Packers to be playing this Monday night!”

Added Michaels: “This was a party from the word ‘go.’ I had my family there, friends there, Packers fans, Rams fans – and we just threw a party.”

Silver credits Monday Night Football Producer Phil Dean with allowing the CCU to act on their ideas.

“He gives us room to be free,” said Silver. “He knows we have some creative tricks up our sleeve, and he trusts us to make something unique.”

Adds Silver, “all we really need in life is rock n’ roll, laughter, kindness, and some Monday Night Football madness.”


What was it like shooting this MNF Open in Encino, Calif., last week? Check out the behind-the-scenes video above, reflecting the work of the team featured below.

Craig Lazarus – VP, Executive Producer Original Content & Features

Julie McGlone – VP, ESPN Creative Content Unit & SportsCenter Enhancement Unit

Aimee Stokes – Senior Managing Producer, ESPN Creative Content Unit

Amanda Paschal – Managing Producer, ESPN Creative Content Unit

Sammy Silver – Director, ESPN Creative Content Unit

Steven Stetz – Senior Associate Producer, ESPN Creative Content Unit

Bryan Rourke – Senior Associate Producer, ESPN Creative Content Unit

Kayla Burge – Production Assistant, ESPN Creative Content Unit

Justin Swiderski – Writer, ESPN Creative Studio

Chris Fernandez – Editor

Thomas Beers – Supervising Effects Artist, ESPN Creative Studio

Eric Frieler – Supervising Effects Artist, ESPN Creative Studio

Jason Finberg – Sound Designer, ESPN Creative Studio

Pat Strenk – Colorist, ESPN Creative Studio

David Sorafine – Director of Photography

Christopher Viglone – Camera Operator

Tim Johnson – Audio Technician

Paul Auerbach, Assistant Camera

Back to top button