Kerri Walsh’s cheeks were cramping from smiling so much.
The beach volleyball star was one of about 100 American athletes who each
spent a hectic day at a West Hollywood studio last week shooting NBC Olympic
promos and interviews for everything from the local TV news to “Access
This is the third straight games for which the network has hosted a one-stop
shopping of shoots with the U.S. Olympic Committee. This one—leading up to
next summer’s London Games—was bigger and busier than the sessions before
Beijing and Vancouver. After the Comcast merger became official earlier this
year, the company added more channels and platforms, including E! Entertainment.
The growing popularity of social media also filled the athletes’ itineraries
last Tuesday through Saturday.
“It’s quite a little factory,” said NBCU Television Group chief marketing
officer John Miller.
Gymnast Jordyn Wieber, the world all-around champion, started her day there
Wednesday at 8 a.m. and didn’t wrap up until 6:30 p.m. She got her hair and
makeup done, then her 16 stops included the company’s regional sports networks,
“NBC Nightly News,” USOC marketing campaigns and doing flips with other
gymnasts in front of a green screen.
The one frequent question over the course of the day that stumped the
16-year-old: What’s your hidden talent?
“I couldn’t think of one,” she said with a laugh.
Athletes also bring childhood photos and home videos to be scanned in. The
invitees included established stars such as Nastia Liukin, Hope Solo, Ryan
Lochte, Allyson Felix and Maya Moore. The list also featured gold medal
contenders in sports like archery, fencing and judo.
Some of the clips may not be broadcast on TV between now and July, but
there’s plenty of space for them online, Miller said.
Walsh and beach volleyball teammate Misty May-Treanor, who won gold at the
last two Summer Games, did an interview for E! with Bruce Jenner, who was an
Olympic decathlon great before he was a reality star. Walsh doesn’t plan to
watch it when it airs, though, preferring to avoid catching herself on TV.
“But I’ll hear all about it from my family,” she said.
Many of these athletes have yet to actually qualify for the Olympics. Eleven
women’s gymnasts attended, and there are only five spots on the team.
“That’s definitely a little bit weird,” said Wieber, a devoted E! fan.