Sunday, July 29, 2012

More Olympic Controversy

As the stories begin emerging, it is more and more apparent that we Star Spangled Americans were treated to a distorted view of the Opening Ceremonies. Based on your comments, it seems the rest of the world didn’t have Paula Abdul babbling throughout the spectacle like we did thanks to NBC. And the rest of the world didn’t see a selectively edited version.

Word now surfaces that there was a section devoted to people who had died, and not only did NBC not air it – they replaced it with an insipid Ryan Seacrest interview. Set aside for a moment that Ryan Seacrest has no business being there in the first place. I’m sure his only exposure to sports is playing Marco Polo in the pool with the Kardashian sisters. But why should NBC decide which parts of the ceremony we see and which we don’t? I can even understand if it’s a time issue but they spent the first half hour showing us filler bullshit. And we must’ve watched David Beckham riding in a boat for ten minutes.

And it gets worse.  When asked to account for this, NBC Sports spokesman Greg Hughes actually defended their decision. "Our program is tailored for the U.S. television audience," he said. "It's a credit to (ceremony director) Danny Boyle that it required so little editing."

A credit to Danny Boyle?!  Really?  A credit?! That’s maybe the greatest “You look fabulous for a fat girl” left handed compliment ever.

I wonder just what NBC’s thought process was to edited out that segment. It was too much of a downer?  They had a promo for new Matthew Perry sitcom scheduled and it just wouldn’t fit? Meredith made a joke over it?  Ryan Seacrest had it in his ridiculous mega-deal? It was a compromise – half the executives wanted to cut Paul McCartney instead?

Here's a link to that section.  (Thanks Sam Simon for finding it.)

Is there any way we in America could watch the Closing Ceremony from Denmark’s feed? Or Costa Rica’s? (Thanks to reader Kathleen, apparently there is.  Here's that link.)

One thing is for sure, and as an Oscar-winning director, Danny Boyle should know this: Never direct anything without first getting the final cut.

36 comments:

Katheen said...

I'm saddened but not surprised that the coverage was cut/edited. No recommendation implied, but here's a link to an alleged way to watch uncut online from the US: http://bearsfightingbears.com/how-to-watch-the-olympics-live-from-the-united-states

Thomas said...

I was tempted to set up a livefeed of the BBC coverage, so international viewers could see our version. If people fancy, I could still do that for the closing ceremony..?

Cameron Yarde said...

NBC stands for No Bloody Class. Had the BBC ditched a 9/11 tribute they wouldn't have heard the end of it and America would complain. Not showing the 7/7 tribute was an insult to those that died and the British people. The fact that some fool made the decision and another fool defended it really makes me weep for the days of NBC of old.

Charlie O'Brien said...

Not only we saw the WHOLE thing on CTV Canada - but, we saw it LIVE at 4pm eastern time.

Chester said...

Too late for the opening, but you can watch British coverage of the games - and incredibly complete coverage it is - as well as the closing ceremony in its entirety on Eurosport online. Yeah, I know, it'll probably cause the same panic and site shutdowns that Tom Brady caused when he admitted he watched the Superbowl online, but it's obvious NBC has dropped the ball here.

There are better options available online.

Bob Claster said...

Sure there's a way. A rather easy way. It just doesn't happen to be entirely legal. I downloaded the Eurosport coverage on bit torrent, and watched it that way. Unedited, though not entirely without stupid commentary. It had a very odd audio mix, though. I'm sure it's still there to be downloaded for those who care, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Canadian presentation is also similarly available.

The tribute to those who have died was just odd, to tell the truth.

Kevin said...

The last thing that Opening Ceremonies needed was "more." It was boring enough as it was.

lsefton said...

Web Proxy and VPN tunneling will set you free. KOMO News in Seattle (!) did a piece on how to get a Web Proxy and watch online: http://www.komonews.com/news/consumer/Alternative-ways-to-watch-Olympics-online-163964046.html

Buck Wild said...

To be fair, NBC said they didn't know it was supposed to be about 9/11. I'm sure most folks here will immediately call bullshit on the network, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. No opening ceremony should have so much spectacle it becomes dull, so I'm fine with them cutting to an interview whether they knew or not.

Tom Quigley said...

Any pretense to legitmate sports journalism for these games on the part of NBC immediately went out the window when it was announced that Ryan Seacrest was going to be part of their broadcast team. Hell, why didn't they just turn the whole thing over to the E! Entertainment channel?... "And now, for an update on the women's Beach Volleyball competition, along with commentary on the swimsuits, let's toss it back over to Joan Rivers and Giuliana Rancic"...

TL said...

Deplorable. It's small wonder than many Americans have such a limited worldview when networks "tailor" current events for our small minds.

Derryl Murphy said...

A lot of people are having a great time with the #nbcfail hashtag on Twitter. Astonishing to see volleyball live and not see Lochte beat Phelps, for instance. And here in Canada, where we can watch NBC as well, even live isn't live. The women's bike road race this morning was inexplicably on about a 5 second delay on NBC.

MaryM said...

I also think that NBC did not air the taking of the Olympic Oath. I wasn't glued to the TV for every second, but the oath is a big deal, and I always look forward to it, but have no recollection of seeing it. If I am mistaken, please let me know when during the ceremony it happened. My British cousin said she saw it - on BBC, of course - so it did happen, but maybe it didn't happen for American viewers.

Phillip B said...

Thanks for passing this along. KFOG had posted it yesterday but the link to the video was broken, and it was good to be able to see it....

It really does move from the silly part of the evening, and gives what came after much more depth.

Someone at NBC made a judgement and it is not owning up to it. But their initial ratings for the games are the highest in history, so it is likely to be buried in that celebration, but it still raises the question of what the coverage is supposed to be.

John said...

ABC and ESPN showed all four days of the British Open LIVE starting at 4:30 a.m. Crazy, huh? NBC is so far off with these stupid decisions.
I did watch a Xfinity 3D channel that showed Men's Gymnastics qualifying with minimum commercials. No cut-ins from Costas or Seacrest. And no American athletes participating. It will be my favorite part of these Games.

DJ said...

No, they failed to show both the Athletes' and Judges' Oaths.

DJ said...

Your pleasure will be short-lived. Qualifying is split into groups because only six men's teams can do so at any one period. The US men qualified later, and were in first place going into the final round (top 6 advance to the final, and all start from scratch)

MrEd said...

The commentary reminded me of watching a parade on TV. Why do they feel the need to describe what I am already looking at? And is there a rule that nobody can go more than 5 seconds without speaking? Bbbbad.

Pete Grossman said...

Man, here's a grand WFT? Bounty (the 'ole "quicker picker-upper") paper towel created special ads for the Olympics. The campaign, so far, focuses on gymnasts. What's the tagline? Wait for it... "Let the spills begin" How's that for a pick-me-up? Anyone else find this wholly stupefying?

-bee said...

I didn't watch the opening ceremonies, but it is probably a minor miracle that NBC did not also black out the salute to universal healthcare - they are probably catching flack from some of their advertisers for not doing so.


And if they was going to hire a totally unqualified FOX MC for this gig, why couldn't they at least have hired Kat Deeley (sp?) from So You Think You Can Dance, one of the rare MC's who is actually tolerable and could add a little local British color to boot.

Jango said...

ken and others, if you wish to watch the UK version of the olympics, just visit unblock-us.com and sign up for a free 1 week trial, and its $5/month from then on.
very simple to setup and choose UK from the list of servers. (ie netflix UK)
then visit the free bbc iplayer:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv/bbc_one_london/watchlive

you can also watch the BBC's broadcast of the opening ceremony from the above site.

Anonymous said...

The Olympics stopped being a sporting event around 1988. Since then, it's become a "television event". And there's no denying they draw ratings.

Anonymous said...

Do they think we the American watchers really are that vapid? You are so right, TL. Julie

Johnny Walker said...

Indeed, it appears to have featured images of those who died in the London 7/7 terrorist bombings in 2005. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention, Ken.

PatGLex said...

I would like to watch the entire Olympics by live feed. Period. If I want to fast-forward through the Opening Ceremony, or the swimming, or the Romanian team female gymnastics performances -- well, guess what: I HAVE A DVD! I can do that! Shame on NBC choosing what we can watch. Hey, maybe I want to see air rifle!

Can't wait for the post-Olympic backlash that may change things....

RCP said...

Sorry, Ken, but NBC has me pegged: The deleted segment was too much of a downer, and I expect to be entertained and coddled at all times - or else. I need overpaid, over-indulged personality "journalists" to describe to me what I'm watching, because I'm too dumb to figure it out for myself. If more than seven seconds pass without someone talking, I will lose interest and wander off. I am now trained to accept commercial breaks every two minutes. Furthermore, I can't get enough of Ryan Seacrest - and pity those who don't "get" him.

David said...

Dear Ken:

As an American who lived in London for more than a decade, I'm so glad you have revisited this. I was in the city the day of the bombings, which came just 24 hours after London, to absolutely everyone's surprise, won the games. The bombings were a blow to the gut -- and two days later, people got back on the underground, got back to work and got on with their lives. I was very proud of my adopted city.

Therefore, I am filled with outrage at the craven decision to cut the tribute to the victims. To be clear: it wasn't 'apparently' a tribute, as some lazy news accounts have implied. The sequence started with the faces of the 52 people murdered. The BBC presenter intro made the explicit link to their loss. If anything was implied, it was a rebuke to the IOC's refusal to acknowledge Munich, thus the reference to all those people who could be at the Games.

What makes the NBC decision even harder to swallow is Bob Costas's high horse pronouncement during the parade about the Munich omission. Here he is scolding the IOC, just minutes after his own network imposed a Happy Talk censoring on a more recent and closely connected tragedy. I generally admire Costas -- he has the sensibility of a journalist -- but if he really wanted to be Edward R. Murrow he would have protested the actions of his own bosses. Instead he tried to be a corporate shill AND a moral teacher.

The Phelps interview looked suspicious to me on the night -- the way it was shoved into the opening ceremony implied a hasty editorial decision to cut away from something. Americans need another interview with him like they need another recession.

The only reason I was watching NBC in the first place was because the BBC hadn't yet posted the full high def video on its player, which I access through a VPN. I saw much of the ceremony live at work on the BBC Olympics site, which naturally had two feeds: with or without commentary.
(PT 1)

David said...

Numerous people have pointed out that if my hometown of New York has done a 9/11 tribute cut by the British, god knows what the fallout would have been. Yet there's been almost nothing about this in the mainstream press-- while at the same time, the internet has been burning with justified anger.

It's no surprise to anyone that network television is in the toilet. But having moved back to the U.S. last year, it's a shock to me how Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer were allowed to be so lazy and ill-prepared. These are people paid millions of dollars and connected to a NEWS division! And they aren't even aware that they SHOULD be embarrassed not knowing who Tim Berners-Lee is? Or at least chagrined at their refusal to flip though a briefing book to understand what the ceremony was showing -- boy, do we miss the likes of Peter Jennings in this country.

Let me flick through a few things off the top of my head; Kenneth Branagh was playing Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Victorian engineer whose tunnels and railway work helped drive the UK into economic prominence (and much of his work is still traverse or used daily). The ship in the parade was the Windrush, which brought Jamaican immigrants to Britain in the late 1940s, triggering the integration of the capital by other people from the Commonwealth. There were also references to the country's incredibly popular night soap operas (including British TV's first lesbian kiss, not incidentally broadcast to Arab countries) and lots of pop music, though Vieira was clearly stopped cold by her ignorance of anything other than a Beatles tune.

I think people missed the most political thing in the opener. For four years, organizers were asked how they would top Beijing. Danny Boyle answered in the guise of what looked on the surface like a boy-meets-girl sketch about having a good time. The bit that ended with Berners-Lee was about the way we live now, and freedom. The message: we invented the internet; In China, it's censored. Don't underestimate the value of that message to young people in places where technology is the only tenuous link to freedom.

david said...

Of course I meant could NOT be there in earlier comment

Jango said...

david, with big corporations pushing laws like SOPA, PIPA and ACTA we may someday too, become like China.
It's a very thin line and too easy to cross, an agenda that can all too easily be pushed too far by the rich and powerful.

DJ said...

Four years ago, NBC used Costas, Lauer, and Joshua Cooper Ramo (Time's senior editor) to cover the Opening Ceremonies. Ramo was well-versed in Chinese artistic traditions, numerology, and symbolism; Lauer and Costas wisely deferred to him at relevant points in the broadcast.

Perhaps Lauer and Viera thought they could coast through the broadcast because, after all, this was England -- not some "alien" culture. They were sadly mistaken.

One possibility that might have been better would have been to say "Danny Boyle packed the ceremony with a dazzling number of references to British music and culture. If you'd like to learn more, go to ..." and then mention the NBC website, which could have a well-researched article detailing all the references from The Archers to the Arctic Monkeys.

Anonymous said...

From Jan

Good suggestion, DJ. And thanks for posting the link, Ken. I shared it on FB, and I'm glad NBC is catching some flack for their tactics.

blue morpho said...

Well I AM in Costa Rica but have no TV (one of those strange stories) anyway, I was able to get a feed from Canada... cannot say how might get into trouble... But did find the opening ceremony absolutely fantastic!!! Thank you Mr. Boyle!

Jeffrey Mark said...

You know, I gotta say something about Ryan Seahorse on the Olympics.

Isn't it so very very sad...once upon a time we had Edward R. Murrow, Mike Wallace, Eric Severeid, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, Harry Reasoner, Ed Bradley, Frank Reynolds, and Howard Cosell. All pretty damn, damn perfect in telling the story with flair - and, above all, with intelligence. Now we're left with young master Rye-ann to tell us what we don't know with his narrow-minded non-wit and non-wisdom. How sad. Ryan Seashell...there's no "there, there." None. Never will be, ooo-weee, you no a fool me.

Anonymous said...

Good for NBC. If the Olympics wasn't going to talk about the murdered Israeli athletes, then this was just a commemoration of some dead people who meet the political guidelines we have borrowed from the Nazis.

dmarks said...

Costas had no idea who Mike Oldfield was. Complete fail.