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SBD Global/July 19, 2012/Olympics

Tension Between Boyle, Broadcaster Disrupting Opening Ceremony Rehearsals

An aerial view of Olympic Stadium reveals the stage for the opening ceremony.
Rehearsals for the £27M ($42M) London 2012 opening ceremony "are being disrupted" by clashes between director Danny Boyle and the company in charge of broadcasting the Olympic Games, according to Hopkins & Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Rehearsals are being hampered by friction between Boyle's crew and Olympic Broadcasting Services. Organisers say the teams are "working very well together," but the Guardian's source said relations were so strained that "an extra ring of security" had been put around Boyle's trailer within the Olympic stadium. One insider said, "Danny cannot get the cameras in the positions he wants. There has been no co-operation at all. Danny wanted to bring in an English crew because he didn't want a sports crew filming the opening ceremony. He is not filming a sporting event. He is a creative and he is trying to create something that is like a drama, which is why he brought in his own people." Boyle "wanted to bring in 30 new cameras to film the event," but he and director Hamish Hamilton "have not been able to get them in the places they wanted." Insiders at the IOC conceded there have been tension between OBS and Boyle's team. A spokesperson added: "It wouldn't surprise me if there was creative tension ahead of one of the world's most watched TV events." OBS said it was "doing its best to accommodate Boyle's team." One of the bikers cut from the show, Joe Maher, told 5 News that he "found out only on Sunday that he would not be performing." Maher said the decision was a "total kick in the face." Also, Olympic Broadcasting Services was told it "no longer had responsibility for the event." However, due to the way the contract works, OBS remains "in overall control of camera locations within the main stadium." Television production company Done and Dusted will shoot the "creative" elements of Boyle's show while OBS will film "the shots of athletes' procession and the speeches" (GUARDIAN, 7/18).

RUNNING LATE: In London, Hopkins & Gibson reported that London 2012 organizers have admitted that they have had to cut the length of Boyle's opening ceremony "to ensure that spectators can get home." About 30 minutes of the ceremony has been cut, which will ensure that the 80,000 spectators -- including up to 120 heads of state -- "are not left stranded." Despite the ongoing security saga and fears that it may extend the time it takes to get into the Olympic Park, security "was not believed to be a consideration." But there have been "longstanding fears that the ceremony would overrun its appointed finishing time of between midnight and 12:30am." One sequence featuring stunt bikes "has been axed altogether" and other sections tightened up to ensure an earlier finish (GUARDIAN, 7/18).

SETTING THE TONE: In London, Ashling O'Connor reported that during dress rehearsals, it "emerged that the show would end as much as half an hour overtime." This would risk spectators missing the last Tube train, "which leaves from Stratford at 2:30am." Some stations would be "kept open further down the line until as late as 3:30am." The BMX bike riders whose scene was cut have "had their contracts paid out" (LONDON TIMES, 7/18). Also in London, Paul Kelso reported that there is "particular concern that were the show to overrun and leave spectators stranded it could "set the tone for the start of the Games." This would be similar to when "problems on the opening night of the Millennium Dome coloured perceptions of the Greenwich arena for years afterward" (TELEGRAPH, 7/18).
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