NBC, Carr-Hughes Productions Hit the Mat With Live Wrestling From Grand Central Station
New York City commuters are in for an unexpected treat Wednesday evening, when a live wrestling event featuring the USA, Iranian, and Russian national teams takes over Vanderbilt Hall at the bustling Grand Central Terminal. Producing the Rumble on the Rails telecasts for NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports will be Carr-Hughes Productions, a veteran of NBC’s coverage of USA Olympic wrestling team trials.
“This venue is obviously a challenge since it is Grand Central Station, so we are keeping the show simple but still trying to capture the [essence of the] location,” says Carr-Hughes co-owner and senior director/producer Jim Carr. “It should be great coverage with a nice intimate setting [in Vanderbilt Hall] at a unique venue like Grand Central Station, where people will be walking by and peeking in to watch.”
A Small Footprint
Carr-Hughes is tasked with producing two live wrestling telecasts — 3:30-5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (and streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra) and 6-7:30 p.m. on Universal Sports — surrounding an ultra-hectic rush hour at Grand Central. With that in mind, Carr-Hughes is making an effort to maintain a small footprint, rolling out Dome Productions’ 40-ft. Kodiak production truck for the six-camera show.
“We are very limited in terms of space since we have to park right there on East 42nd Street,” says Carr, who will be directing both telecasts at the front bench alongside veteran NBC Olympics wrestling producer Mike Molinari. “It’s a 40-ft. truck, and we don’t have a whole lot of room to move in there, but it gives us that small footprint we need.”
At one point, Carr-Hughes entertained the idea of bringing in a combo production/transmission truck but instead opted for Dome’s compact Kodiak unit and a American Satellite Uplink truck for transmission.
The Challenges of Grand Central
In addition to cramped quarters, Carr-Hughes will have to deal with a rushed set-and-strike schedule at one of America’s busiest transportation centers.
Located adjacent to Grand Central’s Main Concourse, the 12,000-sq.-ft. Vanderbilt Hall is playing host to a separate event early this week (the venue regularly hosts corporate events and exhibitions), preventing the Rumble on the Rails team from building the venue until Tuesday evening. Carr and company will then arrive with Kodiak in tow Wednesday morning to begin setup.
“The venue guys can’t get in there and start building the bleachers and everything until late Tuesday, and then we come in very early Wednesday morning with a mobile unit,” says Carr. “So we have to wait until everything is in place to get our gear in. It is a very tight turnaround because we are then on the air by 3:30.”
As one final test of Carr-Hughes mettle, a dense transportation mecca and tourist destination like Grand Central always presents the additional challenge of heightened security.
“Being in that environment with all the security concern and precautions complicates things, too,” says Carr. “We have to be very vigilant about that, and we’ve had a lot of discussions about it to make sure we are prepared for the extra time that is needed for security checks.”
NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the USA vs. Iran freestyle wrestling dual meet begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday with play-by-play caller Jason Knapp, color commentator and Olympic champion Rulon Gardner, and reporter Jimmy Roberts. Coverage continues on Universal Sports with USA vs. Russia at 6 p.m.