Live From NBA All-Star: Celebrity All-Star Game Brings ESPN Team Together

Operations usually handled out of Bristol are fully staffed onsite

ESPN’s production efforts at NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte, NC, are under way. Two shows, The Jump and First Take, are broadcasting live from Bank of America Stadium on Feb. 14 and 15. And the network’s NBA-game production team is onsite, getting Bojangles Coliseum ready for the Celebrity All-Star Game on Friday night.

Onsite for ESPN’s coverage of the 2019 NBA Celebrity All-Star game: (from left) Ops Manager Patty Mattero; Supervisor, Crewing, Candice Manning; Ops Specialist Tom Clark; Senior Ops Coordinator Justin McIntosh; and Senior Ops Coordinator Franca Focareta

ESPN Operations Manager Patty Mattero and a team of about 50 are onsite for the game, which she is involved with for the third year.

“It’s not a straight arena show,” she explains. “We always have to figure out how we’re going to fit in, be cohesive, and not get in anyone else’s way. But it’s fun because of the relationship we have with Turner and NBA TV as everybody helps each other out.”

ESPN is in charge of the entire production, which will be produced out of Game Creek Video’s Spirit A and B units. One interesting aspect of the production is that ESPN’s NBA-graphics team and the complete replay operations team are onsite, something that does not happen for ESPN’s regular-season NBA telecasts. During those games, the graphics team and half of the replay operations team remain at the ESPN facility in Bristol, CT.

“Everybody is here, so it’s one big happy family in the truck,” Mattero says. “It’s nice.”

The show requires nine cameras, including a jib that is shared with Turner Sports. On Saturday, the Coliseum will host the NBA All-Star Practice and Media Day.

“The celebrity game is more of an entertainment show,” Mattero notes. “Our production-team philosophy is to focus more on the entertainment and fun rather than the game coverage, although we have been doing that as well.”

Six of the celebrities and former players will be miked, and one player on each team will also have an in-ear player mic, allowing them to chat with play-by-play announcer Mark Jones and analyst Peter Rosenberg. The four players to be miked are Jay Williams, A’ja Wilson, Stephanie Dolson, and Ray Allen.

“It’s all about getting player interaction,” says Mattero. “[Reporter] Cassidy Hubbarth will have a set area next to the court, where we can have a handheld camera run over to get an interview with somebody.” Chiney Ogwumike will serve as roaming analyst.

Besides the Celebrity Game, ESPN’s production team is on hand for the international broadcast of the Rising Stars game on Friday, All-Star Saturday Night, and Sunday’s 68th NBA All-Star Game. The events will air on ESPN platforms throughout Latin America, Brazil, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Rim and through brand partners TSN in Canada, Tencent in China, and Sony in India.


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