Turner Gets Up for All-Star Coverage

By Carolyn Braff

For its 25th year of NBA All-Star coverage, Turner Sports is increasing its vertical. A traveling studio set called The Rig will be driven from its parking space in Atlanta to Phoenix in time for NBA All-Star Weekend 2009, where the festivities begin on TNT on Feb. 12. The Rig’s set sits on a boom arm, which rises 14 feet into the air and rotates 360 degrees, giving the network optimum coverage flexibility.

“The Rig is going to be our hub for the four days, once we get out to Phoenix,” explains Executive Producer Jeff Behnke. “We will be doing a number of things from a production standpoint, but I think the studio set will probably be the most noticeable.”

Coordinating Director Steve Fiorello worked with a company in the Midwest to build The Rig three years ago, but it has been used only once, for NASCAR coverage. The climate in Phoenix provides Turner with a feasible venue for rolling out The Rig once more.

“In Phoenix, we have an outdoor venue where we feel confident that the weather is going to cooperate,” Behnke says. “A traveling studio crew will go along with the studio set, which will be wrapped in NBA All-Star imagery.”

Turner’s coverage of all the All-Star Weekend festivities — including the Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, Shooting Stars Competition, Skills Challenge, 3-Point Shootout, and Slam Dunk Competition, in addition to the All-Star Game — will all benefit from enhanced coverage.

“For all of the events, we will have over 25 cameras and over 20 different replay sources,” Behnke says, noting that the cable cam will also make an appearance in Phoenix this year, for the All-Star Game. “Having the opportunity to use that amount of equipment certainly excites us.”

A number of players will be miked at all the events on All-Star Saturday Night, as well as during the game on Sunday.

“The NBA is great about providing the players for us to talk to during each of the events,” Behnke says. “Certainly during the All-Star game on Sunday, we’ll have Craig Sager and David Aldridge on the floor talking to players during the game, and we will have some players miked as well.”

On the digital side, Turner Sports will once again offer its player-mosaic feature on NBA.com, which allows fans to log on and choose which players they want to watch on isolated cameras during the game.