London Log-In - August 1, 2012
UCLA athletes, coaches, alumni and staff share their experiences at the 2012 Olympics. UCLA Associate Athletic Director Mike Sondheimer recaps his visit with the NBC Volleyball crew to the Tower of London.
Aug. 1, 2012
Like most of the teams at the Olympic Village, our 14-person NBC Volleyball Team stays together in the same apartment complex and has the same work schedule. We eat lunch and dinner together daily just like the athletes and coaches (only ours is at the Earl's Court venue location in London).
We make the half mile walk together in the morning to the venue, go through security and work out of three main trailers in the media complex. One NBC unit is dedicated to the production staff, which is where I work out of daily, doing volleyball research and developing match information for the announcers. A second trailer houses our work center with our producers and technical staff in touch with NBC, NBC Network and NBCMSN. A third trailer is our operations central for our venue manager, which has numerous HD television sets to check on what is happening at the various NBC production sites that are competing at the time.
I work for a legendary sports producer Jack Graham, who has done volleyball for years and now works regularly for The Golf Channel as the top producer (by the way he did go to USC). The other producer/director is Jeremy Olson, a CSUN graduate who I have worked with for years on volleyball. The two main announcers are 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Paul Sunderland, a Loyola-Marymount graduate, who should be familiar to Bruin fans from doing numerous Fox Sports events over the years. The other announcer is Kevin Barnett, who played at Pepperdine and for the USA in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. I work with him on the The Volleyball Net show. Another person on the crew as a production assistant is Randi Ewing, who played volleyball at Fordham. She is more known as being Patrick Ewing's daughter. Patrick was part of the 1992 'Dream Team', and we have been debating whether the 1992 team is better than the 2012 USA men's basketball team. Paul has done the NBA as the Lakers' play-by-play announcer and knows how good the 1992 team was.
Working for NBC Sports has its perks. Tuesday, we were able to get a free tour of the Tower of London and surrounding area, which was fantastic. The NBC 'Today Show' has a set there, and, through one of our producers who knows one of their producers, we were able to go as a group of 14.
With our NBC passes, we were able to travel for free on the London 'Tube' system. The system has worked well throughout the first few days of the Olympic Games, even though there is more traffic. Anyone with an Olympic ticket can use the system for free, which has been very positive.
The Tower of London and area around it, including the Tower of London Bridge with the Olympic Logo, is spectacular. Our tour guide can make a fortune as a comedian in explaining the history in both contemporary and humorous terms. His best moment was when a cell phone went off (you can't use cell phones inside the towers), and he came over and answered it for the person and had us say a big hello and told the person on the other end that the person was busy and unable to talk.
If you are not familiar with the Tower of London, it is a major castle that was 'Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress'. It was amazingly founded in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The bridge is on the River Thames in central London. The castle was used as a prison, which we were able to see on the tour. It is also home to the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. A big phrase the tour stressed was 'sent to the Tower,' which was common in the 16th and 17th century for when people fall into disgrace, including future Queen Elizabeth I.
The Tower of London is one of the most popular tourist sites in the city. The individuals doing the tours have to have served at least 22 years in the British Army or Air Force or Navy. They also get to live in the castle property as part of their work. We had a spectacular time and were able to go since it was a rare day when we did not have a NBC morning match to broadcast.
As our schedule gets busier in the coming days, it may be tough to sight-see, but the Tower of London was definitely something to see while in London (didn't find any Bruins working there, though!).
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