THE PUBLICIST: Hollywood PR pros may learn something by watching ESPN

While in Tuscaloosa for the recent Oklahoma-Alabama game, I met Mac Nwulu, publicist for ESPN's College GameDay. Now that's a cool job - if you love football. A native of Nigeria, Nwulu's passion is soccer, but he's learning to appreciate American pigskin.

While in Tuscaloosa for the recent Oklahoma-Alabama game, I met Mac Nwulu, publicist for ESPN's College GameDay. Now that's a cool job - if you love football. A native of Nigeria, Nwulu's passion is soccer, but he's learning to appreciate American pigskin.

Based in ESPN's Bristol, CT office, Nwulu spends the week arranging press interviews for journalists in the college town where GameDay will be broadcasting from that weekend. Sometimes he'll join the show on location, as he did in Tuscaloosa. GameDay, a veritable 40-person broadcasting carnival, is celebrating its 10th year, and it has become as significant to tailgating traditions as BBQs and "Beat State" placards. "Working in college [towns] keeps you young," Nwulu told me. "The excitement our show brings to campus is energizing. The entire crew feeds off it." They had better: a typical Saturday workday is 16 hours. GameDay hosts Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso are greeted like rocks stars, especially in the football-crazy South. Hollywood may be fixated on Bennifer's breakup, but in Austin, TX, Gainesville, FL, and Baton Rouge, LA it's, "Who's Lee pickin' to win?" The show airs at 10:30am EST, and hundreds of fans were surrounding the set when I arrived at 9am. Nwulu had several things to attend to in Tuscaloosa, including arranging a photo shoot with the hosts, and assisting a reporter from Sports Illustrated's new publication, On Campus, which is doing a GameDay feature. Nwulu let me observe him observing the writer observing the show. Now I'm getting cross-eyed. ESPN struck a valuable deal this year with sponsor Home Depot, which built the show's mobile broadcast set and provides a fancy bus that serves as a reception area for VIPs and a green room for on-air talent. You may see it one day - it's painted with the mugs of Chris, Kirk, and Lee, and will log more than 25,000 miles this season. Five TV monitors are on-board, allowing Corso and company to keep tabs on all the big games. Sarah Beckley, a publicist from Octagon, which handles the Home Depot/ESPN account, gave me a tour of this Ritz on wheels. Oddly, she denied my request to stretch out in the back and attempt to simultaneously surf five TVs at once. (My previous record was four.) I was tempted to stow away on-board and join the circus. Alas, I had to return to LA and a client meeting. The show (business) must go on.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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