SBD/December 20, 2013/Media

HBO Sports' Dave Harmon Discusses Process Behind Developing "24/7"

Harmon says "24/7" focuses on producing a documentary-style reality show
HBO Sports Senior Producer of "24/7" Dave Harmon said his role in the series based around the Winter Classic is "making sure it all comes together coherently," according to a Q&A with Brian Stubits of CBSSPORTS.com. Harmon, in a discussion about the series and where it is headed, said, "The structure of the show is that before we ever shoot anything we have meetings with line producers of the show who are the ones that then go out and interview the players, get all the beauty shots and wind up doing one team per producer." He added, "We have a producer for the Maple Leafs, one producer for the Red Wings and I oversee both of them." Below are excerpts from the conversation.

Q: How tough is it then to decide what makes the cut? What goes into that thought process? Is it simply just looking for the most compelling?
A: The philosophy with "24/7," both in hockey and in boxing, is that we are a documentary-style reality show. So the premise of the hockey show for this coming week, for instance, will be: what was the week like for the Toronto Maple Leafs? What was it like for the Detroit Red Wings? We try to have at least a little bit of footage from every day. Are they practicing today? Is it a day off? Do they have a game? Each thing gets chronicled in some way in the show. So No. 1 is giving people that. Then No. 2 is within those days, what's the most interesting thing? What would make someone at home say 'Wow! I can't believe they got access to that. I didn't know that.'"

Q: Do you run into a lot of restrictions in dealing with the NHL, things you would love to use but you can't or is that not an issue at all with the league?
A: Not an issue at all. The NHL has been great. The teams, whether we're talking about the Penguins and Capitals, or the Rangers and Flyers and now the Maple Leafs and Red Wings, all of them have let us shoot whatever we want. I would say this past week when there is a suspension hearing, that's the kind of thing where, at some point, someone in the room says "We'll let you show the players going in and out of the hearing but the hearing itself is not for entertainment purposes, we're not going to let you shoot that." That is totally understandable, we have no issue with that. A player's livelihood is at stake, there are injuries and different things like that that can happen. That's the only time that anyone ever draws a line with us.

Q: What kind of response did you get from the first episode?
A: The greatest response certainly was in Detroit and Toronto but hockey fans throughout the country have been very into what they're seeing here. Then when you get to people who aren't hockey fans, we've gotten some response from them too. There's a little bit of crossover and all of a sudden you get to see Elisha Cuthbert, who is with Dion Phaneuf. So you have a little something for everyone in Episode 1.

Q: One scene that stuck out for me was in Florida when a few of the Red Wings went out for dinner. It begged the question: Is there any kind of prompting that goes on?
A: I really can promise you that what you're seeing is what really happened. We do not interfere. When we train our producers in the field and our camera crews in the field to go out there, one of the first things we say is one of the first things I told you, it's a documentary-style reality show (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/19).

FEELING HEAT OF THE SPOTLIGHT: In Toronto, Dave Feschuk wrote under the header, "24/7 Spotlight Raises Pressure On Team." The Red Wings and Maple Leafs have lost a combined 13 of 20 games in "a month of December that has seen them surrounded by HBO’s cameras and microphones and roving producers paid to suss out the juiciest happenings in these dressing rooms in crisis." Under this "unceasing gaze," the Maple Leafs have lost five of their past seven games, while the Red Wings snapped a six-game losing streak Thursday night. As much as this season’s "returns suggest the cameras are having a negative effect, it’s difficult to build a case that there’s an HBO jinx." Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said, "I wouldn’t say (24/7 is) high on my list for things to happen in my life. But I’m participating because that’s what my job tells me I have to do. So, I’ll just leave it at that" (TORONTO STAR, 12/19).
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