The Olympic Games are some of the most-watched television events in history, with millions of viewers tuning in from around the world. On Wednesday, Oct. 21, Jim Bell, executive producer of the Olympic Games for NBC Sports, will visit Drexel University to give a behind-the-scenes look at how that coverage comes together.
After having produced the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games and the 2104 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Bell and his team are in the midst of preparing for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
At Drexel, Bell will discuss his extensive experience in leading award-winning, comprehensive and innovative Olympic coverage, how networks deal with news that breaks during the games, how they cope with the challenges of broadcasting from various host countries and how they have adapted to the rise of social media platforms.
Bell’s talk, which is co-hosted by the Rudman for Entertainment Industry Studies in Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and Drexel's Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, is free and open to the public, and will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the URBN Annex Screening Room (3401 Filbert St).
“The Olympics are an iconic sporting event that combines not only the actual competitions but also the dramatic human-interest stories of the athletes and their families,” said Karen Curry, executive director of the Rudman Institute and former London bureau chief for NBC News. “Anybody who watches the Olympics will find this event of interest. In particular, anyone interested in television, the web and the arena of sports and sport management will not want to miss this. Jim is a font of information and insight into the real world of the Olympic Games.”
Bell also will speak to a sport management class in the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management.
“Jim Bell’s visit with our students will give them a deeper understanding of what it takes to produce one of the highest profile events on the planet over a three-week period,” said Karen Weaver, EdD, an associate clinical professor of sport management. “His willingness to share his personal insight regarding the opportunities and challenges of broadcasting the Olympic Games with our students is phenomenal.”
Bell’s extensive Olympics coverage began with the 1992 Barcelona Games. He has received numerous Emmy Awards for his Olympics coverage, as well as for the 1997 NBA Finals and Wimbledon tennis in 1998, and a Peabody for NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony. He developed NBC’s AFL in-game live telecast interviews, a technique used throughout the industry today.
Prior to NBC Sports, Bell spent seven years as the executive producer of NBC’s “TODAY” show. During his tenure at “TODAY,” Bell guided the show through some of its most challenging transitions and ambitious initiatives. He oversaw news coverage that included the 2008 Presidential Election, Hurricane Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the earthquake in Haiti. He also led “TODAY’s” six-hour live broadcast of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. He was responsible for the “Ends of the Earth” series that aired the first-ever live simultaneous broadcast from the Arctic, the Antarctic and the Equator. Bell also was the executive producer of Matt Lauer’s primetime special with George W. Bush’s first one-on-one television interview after leaving office.
Looking ahead, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, the Rudman Institute will host Vivek Tiwary the multi-Tony-winning Broadway producer and award-winning author of The Fifth Beatle, a graphic novel about Brian Epstein, the man responsible for discovering the Beatles. The Fifth Beatle will be made in to a feature film produced by Tiwary and Simon Cowell.
On Tuesday, Nov. 17, the Institute will host Adam Lowitt, multiple Emmy-winning executive producer of The Daily Show. Lowitt worked with Jon Stewart for 13 years and is continuing on with new Daily Show anchor Trevor Noah. Lowitt, a stand up comic in his own right, will do a brief stand-up performance and then sit down with Curry for a conversation about what it’s like to produce this iconic program.