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SBD/July 13, 2011/Media
Showtime's "The Franchise" Offers In-Season Look At MLB Giants
Published July 13, 2011
ELEMENT OF TRUST: BROADCASTING & CABLE's Ben Grossman "spent a game day in San Francisco with the team and the crew," and he notes Showtime "hopes 'The Franchise' will be compelling due to the access its cameras have and the trust level with the players and team staff." Giants Senior VP & GM Brian Sabean said that he and the team "have a very good understanding of the goal of the show, so they are giving the cameras significant access, even more so than they expected." He added that the Giants have "tossed out the cameras only a few times, for things like meetings with medical staffers." Showtime execs are "bullish on the new show because the Giants are a group comprised of some serious camera-ready characters and a couple of major league whack jobs" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 7/11 issue). Bochy and the Giants players insisted that filming for "The Franchise" has "gone smoothly." In California, Chuck Barney noted viewers "won't see a trashy, 'Real Housewives'-like production, but rather an unprecedented behind-the-scenes slice of major league life that is bristling with raw emotion, offbeat humor and colorful personalities" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 7/11).
INSIDE THE MAKINGS: Exec Producer Mike Tollin, when asked how "The Franchise" differs from "Hard Knocks," said, "It is somewhat groundbreaking to do a show during the regular season. Here the games count. The access has been extraordinary." He added the biggest hurdle "was to get everyone comfortable with us and the cameras." Tollin: "We are approaching this as a documentary, not a reality show. We feel responsible to recognize where the line is drawn. The Giants are out there playing for real, with a lot on the line. We can't intrude" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/9). Nevins said, "I want the show to feel really immediate, but I also want it to feel like it's got deep access and you're getting a piece of these guys you don't get on ESPN" (USA TODAY, 7/13). The show is produced by MLB Productions, and in N.Y., Mike Hale noted the show's staff "may be part of the Major League Baseball family, but that doesn't mean that the players are much more than polite to them while striding by on their way to the trainer's room or the batting cage." The show is occurring "thanks to Major League Baseball's evolving effort at getting its brand in front of as many eyeballs as possible." MLB Productions "came up with the concept for 'The Franchise' and shopped it to various networks" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10).
TAKING A SNEAK PREVIEW: A preview screening of "The Franchise" in Phoenix yesterday prior to the All-Star Game showed a more serious yet family-friendlier feel than shows like "Hard Knocks" or "24/7." Baer said, "This is not meant to be a reality series. We didn't think a show full of F-bombs would fit what the Giants are about. That's not meant to be critical of 'Hard Knocks,' or whatever. But we are seeking to be something different, and are telling more of a story, one that we think is multi-dimensional and multi-generational." Picking up the narrative from a preview episode shown in April, the full debut of "The Franchise" chronicles the Giants' early regular-season struggles, serious injuries to several key players including C Buster Posey, and the life-threatening assault of Giants fan Bryan Stow in L.A. Baer: "We're telling the story of our players, who we obviously believe are really great and will appeal to a national audience" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In California, Cam Inman writes the debut episode "is a quality product" and "isn't a dud." Tim Lincecum is "relatively scarce" in the episode, as "about a dozen teammates are featured in quick-hit segments." Inman: "Heartwarming segments came from [Jeremy] Affeldt, Matt Cain, Cody Ross and Ryan Vogelsong inviting cameras to document their family lives. ... Flamboyant closer Brian Wilson didn't hog the show. Producers could have exploited that angle" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 7/13). In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht writes networks "often break out alternative programming the night after the All-Star Game because there are no baseball telecasts to compete against." The debut of "The Franchise" "is the best of the lot" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 7/13).