On Sunday, the rest of life will gently recede and the Super Bowl will consume us. With that in mind, I'm sending several stories to papers; here's the first one, a viewer's guide to Super Sunday:
By MIKE HUGHES
On Sunday, people will conspire to
gather near their TV sets.
“The Super Bowl really has become a
national holiday,” said Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports.
“It's when people who haven't watched all year get together with
For hard-core fans, there's cable's CBS
Sports Network. The former College Sports Network starts early –
with a preview from 9-11 a.m. ET – and ends late, with a
post-postgame show at 10:30 p.m.
And for the casual fan? “It's a mix
of football and entertainment,” CBS producer Eric Mann said.
During 12-plus hours, CBS will serve up
music (Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis), plus commercials and
clips and Sherlock Holmes and .... yes, football. Here's a guide to
the CBS day:
– 11 a.m.: “The Road to the Super
Bowl,” from NFL Films. A season is stuffed into one busy hour.
– Noon: “New Orleans: Let the Good
Times Roll.” Marsalis helps us meet the music and the people.
– 1 p.m.: “The Phil Simms All-Iron
Team.” The former quarterback (and 1987 Super Bowl MVP) offers some
of his favorite players and plays.
– 2 p.m.: “Super Bowl Today,”
running for the next four hours. “Hopefully, we'll have some laughs
and some football,” Mann said. Also, “music is part of it, from
the NFL Tailgate Stage.”
He has James Brown hosting, with
reporters – Lesley Visser, Tracy Wolfson, Jason La Canfora – and
lots of commentators. There's a former coach (Bill Cowher), tight end
(Shannon Sharpe) and quarterbacks (Boomer Esiason and Dan Marino).
The ex-players are from the offensive
side, so CBS added current Packer linebacker Clay Matthews. “He was
excited enough to say he was going to go out and get a brand new
suit,” McManus said.
There will be football features –
including ones on the Harbaugh brothers (competing coaches) and on
young quarterback Colin Kaepernick. There may also be detours –
news anchor Scott Pelley interviews President Obama; the Tailgate
Stage has the Roots headlining.
– 6 p.m. The action moves to New
Orleans' Superdome, with Jim Nantz and Simms, plus reporting by Steve
Tasker and Solomon Wilcots. Keys sings the National Anthem.
– 6:30: Now (at last) it's football –
the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers – with CBS using 62
cameras. That's twice as many as it had in the
conference-championship game … and way more than the total (9 to
12) for an ordinary game.
That's partly because cameras are key
to any challenges of the referees' rulings, McManus said “When
you're at the Super Bowl, you make sure you have every angle
covered,” McManus said.
– Halftime: Beyonce performs, amid
flash and spectacle.
– Post-game (about 10 p.m.).
Locker-room interviews and such. Wet people celebrate.
– Post-post-game (about 10:30): Some
fans (and CBS' commentators) will flee to the cable network, for more
football talk. Most viewers, however, are expected to stay for a
That brings the show extra attention …
and extra stress, which producer Robert Doherty shrugs off. “I'm
stressed out all the time anyway,” he said.
His show has Jonny Lee Miller as
Sherlock Holmes in nowadays New York, with Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson.
It's become a quick ratings hit on Thursdays, so Doherty said the
hour will do double duty: It will work for newcomers, yet be
something “our regular audience will really have fun with.”
Terry Kinney will play an unpredictable
criminal, with Kari Matchett as the profiler trying to predict his
next step. It may seem quite complex to viewers – and elementary to