HBO's '24/7' series scores Emmy nods

| Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nearly three months after the final episode of "24/7 Penguins-Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic," one of that HBO series' coordinating producers can't help think about the possibilities were the cameras still rolling.

"I think we had a perfect story arc with the Capitals being down at the start then winning the Classic, and with Jordan Staal coming back to play in that game," Squirrel Hill native Bentley Weiner said, "but since filming ended, there have been numerous occasions that would have been perfect for the series.

"The first one that comes to mind was that game on Long Island with all the fights, and the next day, the Penguins' bus breaks down in Manhattan, and they're taking taxis to skate at central park."

The potential for "Taxi Cab Confessions: Penguins" aside, Weiner's HBO bosses and NHL officials can officially consider the cable network's first series to involve hockey a success — not that immeasurable buzz and better-than-expected ratings hadn't already led to that qualification.

Overall, the "24/7" series received seven Sports Emmy nominations Tuesday. Three belong to "Penguins-Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic"— including one for the coveted Outstanding Edited Sports Special.

Submissions were due in late January, only a few weeks after the final Winter Classic series episode aired.

The four-part series, each episode ran at approximately an hour, was condensed into a 20-minute submission tape. Among the segments included was the Penguins' trip to Buffalo upon which rookies Ben Lovejoy and Mark Letestu returned to find their hotel-room furniture in the hallway.

Penguins vice president/communications Tom McMillan, who worked closely and remains in touch with Weiner's Pittsburgh-based crew, wasn't surprised by the Sports Emmy nominations.

"The series was phenomenal, due in large part to the talent and creativity of the HBO crew," McMillan said. "They presented hockey in a way that people hadn't seen it before — even those of us who work in the game. We'll be rooting for them to win."

Weiner is seeking an addition to her three previous Sports Emmy wins.

The NHL hasn't announced plans for additional involvement with '24/7,' though the positive reviews from both TV critics and fans of the Winter Classic series impressed league officials.

"It's a testament to the outstanding work done by HBO, as they provided viewers with such an unique perspective into the NHL and its amazing athletes," NHL chief operating officer John Collins said. "It truly changed the way people see our game."

The lone negative regarding the Winter Classic series is that hefty licensing fees to redistribution rights for music used in each episode makes the release of a DVD set unlikely.

The teams and host city for the 2012 Classic haven't been identified — though there are reports the game will be played at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field between the Flyers and New York Rangers. The prospect of placing HBO cameras with those big-market teams could attract an even larger audience and greater media attention for a second "Road to the Winter Classic" series.

Any NHL teams would make for gripping TV, Weiner predicted.

"The main thing is access," she said. "These athletes and coaches were really willing to let us in. That was the key to the series."

Notes: The Penguins did not practice yesterday. ... Forward Tom Kuhnhackl, the 110th overall pick at the 2010 entry draft, was signed to a three-year entry-level contract. He scored one goal in six games for Team Germany at the 2011 World Junior Championship tournament.

Additional Information:

Classic accolades

In addition to finding an audience outside the hockey world, HBO's '24/7 Penguins-Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic' was also a critical success, snagging Sports Emmy nominations in the following categories:

• Outstanding Edited Sports Special (full staff award)

• Outstanding Post Produced Audio/Sound (post-audio engineer and field audio technician award)

• The Dick Schaap Writing Award (individual writer award)


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