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(E) Kostelic Family Tonight & more on SHOWTIME
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/11/2003 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Kostelic Family Tonight & more on SHOWTIME


KostelicFamily on Showtime

Dear Nenad,

Thank you for your kind words--I'm glad you liked the show. And ordering Showtime for the occasion is something Showtime absolutely loves to hear.

Showtime's going to rebroadcast the show on the following dates: 

Showtime East 03/11/03 9:00 PM 
Showtime Too East 03/13/03 7:45 AM 
Showtime Too East 03/13/03 4:00 PM 
Showtime Too East 03/16/03 11:00 AM

Here's one more review that singles out the Kostelic piece. It's from the Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle:

By CW Nevius

Salt Lake 2002: Bud Greenspan's Stories of Olympic Glory: Documentary. Written, produced and directed by Bud Greenspan. Narrated by Will Lyman. 

Everyone has watched the Olympics on television. But you haven't really seen the Games until documentary filmmaker Bud Greenspan explains what to look for. Nobody puts the lump in your throat like Greenspan, who understands that there is more to this athletic celebration than a ticking clock, an American flag and an endorsement deal from a shoe company. 

This effort, six stories from the Salt Lake City Games, is one of Greenspan's best. To be honest, some of the previous efforts -- and he has now done seven, all the way back to Los Angeles in 1984 -- have fallen a little flat. 

This is just a guess, but it may be that network executives have seen Greenspan's greatest strength -- focusing on the less publicized stories about athletes from countries other than the good old U.S.A. -- as a weakness. 

They may have been pressuring him to skip the cross-country skiers and do the big names. That would be a monumental mistake, of course, but you can see a little of that thinking at the start of the Salt Lake show. Greenspan begins with the well-worn story of Jimmy Shea. Shea competes in the skeleton -- a lugelike sled in which competitors roar down the track headfirst. .5 It's a nice tale.

Shea's grandfather, Jack, won two gold medals in speedskating in Lake Placid in 1932, and his father competed in the Nordic events in the 1964 Games. When Jack was killed in a car accident, hit by a drunken driver just 17 days before the Olympics, Jimmy dedicated the competition to him, and prevailed. The only quibble is that this was done to a fare-thee-well by NBC during the Games. 

Anyone who doesn't already know this story isn't a fan of the Olympics, and that's the core audience. Hang on, however, and you will be rewarded. The typical Greenspan story is a slow build. He shows us Janica Kostelic, a Croatian skier. OK, you think, kind of interesting that she and her brother, Ivica, are trained by their father, Ante, in Zagreb. And the fact that the war-torn country provided so few facilities that they lifted tree branches for weights and teetered along the top rail of wooden fences to improve balance. 

You're hooked by the time you hear how Ante drove hours to ski areas and Ivica and Janica would sleep in the car once there because they didn't have enough money for lodging. Or, when Janica recalls that when she began to win races, it was so unexpected that she had to provide her own Croatian flag for the ceremony. When she injures a knee just three weeks before the Games but still comes back to ski, and then . . . well, let's just say it is likely to be the most interested you have ever been in a Croatian ski racer. 

Greenspan's advantage is that he can tell a story after the fact and gets in-depth interviews with the participants after they have had a chance to think the moment through. 

In "Salt Lake 2002," he gives a fresh twist to the Canada-USA gold medal men's hockey final, letting us see the tremendous pressure on the Canadians, who had not won "their" sport in the Olympics in 50 years. But Greenspan is best at the little stories the big networks missed. 

An Australian freestyle aerial skier, Alisa Camplin, is thrust into the spotlight when her teammate, Jacqui Cooper, suffers a knee injury on the final practice jump before the competition. Camplin goes for the gold, but what she doesn't know (although we do) is that her mother, whom she had forbidden to make the long trip to the United States because of the expense, is actually in the stands, hiding behind a huge Australian flag. Waterworks ensue. 

There is Stefania Belmondo, a spunky but apparently over-the-hill Italian cross-country skier. Belmondo, as you expect, makes a sensational run to the front, but that's when her ski pole shatters. Can she make it? 

Finally, there is the tale of Brian Shimer, the American bobsledder. Thirty- nine years old and a four-time loser at the Olympics, Shimer was more than just a hard-luck story. Some of his teammates were openly questioning his ability. As he relives his Olympic moment, even months after the Games, he is unable to keep from getting choked up. Greenspan cuts to his wife, and she quickly finds herself overcome with emotion, too. At that point, if you are watching alone, and someone comes into the room, you might want to tell them you've got something in your eye. 

E-mail C.W. Nevius at ©2003 San Francisco Chronicle 

Cheers and thanks again for watching, and for putting it up there.


Eric Hamilton
Cappy Productions
New York City

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