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Volume 25 No. 28
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NBC Draws Some Praise, Criticism For Broadcast Of Opening Ceremony

NBC's rendition of the ceremony took 15 minutes longer than the actual run time of two hours, 15 minutes
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NBC's primetime broadcast of the Pyeongchang Opening Ceremony on Friday was "tailored for American viewers in a way that simultaneously was predictable yet baffling," according to Phil Rosenthal of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The parade of nations took "50 minutes or so to complete in real life," but it "went 95 minutes in NBC's production." NBC's rendition of the ceremony as a whole, which "ditched much of the speechifying by Olympic and South Korean leaders and trimmed other elements, took only 15 minutes longer than the actual running time of two hours, 15 minutes." Some of the expansion was "just so NBC could show more U.S. athletes." NBC made "no attempt to hide its handiwork," as the net's Mike Tirico "acknowledged the network did some editing" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/11). DEADLINE's Dominic Patten wrote some critics may "pinch NBC for editing elements of the Opening Ceremony" for its primetime coverage, but that is the "nature of such events" (DEADLINE.com, 2/9). In L.A., Meredith Blake writes NBC's broadcast of the Opening Ceremony was "instructive and mostly intelligent, though not without embarrassing moments." The net "emphasized the geopolitical stakes" of this year's Games and "plugged the arrival of the unified Korean team almost as enthusiastically as the season finale" of NBC show "This Is Us." NBC at times "laid on the international intrigue a bit thick." Meanwhile, the "cringe-worthy commentary was refreshingly rare and mostly came courtesy" of Joshua Cooper Ramo, who made "numerous broad generalizations about 'Asian culture' that felt like rehashed stereotypes" (L.A. TIMES, 2/12). Ramo was removed from NBC's coverage going forward after saying that Japan's occupied of Korea from 1910-45 had "served as a key 'example' in South Korea's transformation" (BBC.com, 2/12).

SOME TOPICS LEFT ALONE: VARIETY's Maureen Ryan wrote there were a "few odd elements" of the Opening Ceremony that "couldn't have been anticipated." The NBC commentary team "noted an event that had been edited out of the main part of the ceremony." Additionally, an "unauthorized person made his way on to the arena's stage twice, and footage was shown of the man being hustled away by security." NBC to its credit "allowed this odd moment to become part of the story." Tirico and Katie Couric also "explained that Russian athletes had been allowed to compete ... but the nation itself had been banned" from the Games after a doping scandal. The NBC hosts also "noted that earlier in his trip to South Korea," Vice President Pence had "met with the family of Otto Warmbier, a student who had been held by the North Korean regime and died soon after being returned to his parents" (VARIETY.com, 2/9). USA TODAY's A.J. Perez noted NBC's broadcast "lacked more than just a brief mention of the IOC's ban of Russia for leading a state-sponsored doping system." Tirico also "didn't go into much detail" when mentioning Pence, who was in attendance. That meant there was "nothing on the war of words" between the Trump administration and North Korea, or the "controversy between Pence and openly gay Team USA figure skater Adam Rippon" (USATODAY.com, 2/10). Meanwhile, the AP's David Bauder noted it was a "serious omission" for NBC not to mention U.S. speedsakter Shani Davis' "anger at losing a coin toss to determine the flag bearer" for the U.S., and his decision not to attend the Opening Ceremony (AP, 2/10).

TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Tirico and Couric during the broadcast "took turns treating viewers like second-graders with bad humor, condescending tones and stories that felt lifted straight from Wikipedia." The net was "trying to spice up a show that really doesn't need to be spiced up." The pageantry is "more than enough to satisfy the viewer." The hosts "need not fill time with scripted conversation that isn't as funny or as entertaining as the hosts think it is." That need to "constantly fill time with forced banter not only can be annoying, but it can lead to awful missteps, as NBC found out" when Ramo made a comment that offended many Koreans (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/12). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's David Rooney wrote there were the "usual banalities" during NBC's broadcast. Biding time before the U.S. team's entry, Tirico "felt the need to identify Mongolia as 'one of the 53 countries competing never to have won a Winter Games medal." Couric was "hardly taxing herself when she shared that the U.S. team's Ralph Lauren outfits were indeed 'toasty'" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 2/9).