When you think of the top-rated shows on television, "NCIS," "The Voice" and "The Big Bang Theory" come to mind. What might surprise you is that NBC's "Sunday Night Football" was the most watched show for the 2011-12 season. It was the first time a sports program has achieved that distinction, and it is likely to happen again this year.
The ultimate reality show is produced by Fred Gaudelli. Along with his team at NBC, he has set the gold standard for covering the NFL. He spoke this week about how he and his team prepare for the No. 1 show on television.
When do you get to town, and what comes first?
"[On] Thursday, Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya, director Drew Esocoff and I go to Redskins Park. We watch practice and talk to players and coaches. We have detailed conversations with head coach Mike Shanahan; his son and offensive coordinator, Kyle; and quarterback Robert Griffin III. Bob tapes any interviews we need for the show. Then we return to the hotel and break down coaches film on the Redskins. That helps us frame the way we cover the game."
What happens Friday?
"We have a series of meetings and go over taped features, graphics and go out to FedEx Field, where Drew and I meet with the entire production crew. We do one last walkthrough before all the cameras are put in place to make sure that there is not a single angle that we miss. Al, Cris and Bob continue to do their research for the show."
Take us through Saturday and up to show time Sunday?
Gaudelli » "[On] Saturday the Cowboys come to town, and Al, Cris, Bob, Michele, Drew and I will meet at their hotel with Jason Garrett and Tony Romo. Again, Bob will tape interviews, and we will view Cowboys game film just like we did with Washington. [On] Saturday we have a camera rehearsal at FedEx, so we make sure everything is right. [On] Sunday we get to FedEx at around 2 p.m. and we do a full rehearsal with the broadcast crew. We break the crew for lunch, then we go live at 7 p.m. with Bob, Al and Cris on 'Football Night in America.' We are locked in from that point on, and the star of our show is always the game, and with the Redskins and the Cowboys we have an all-star cast."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.