The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 26, 2006


Sports producer produces a hit at Mosquito Annual Meeting

Standing amid a display of sports caps and press passes, Amy Rosenfeld explains why she has soccer star Brandi Chastain's bra. (Photo by Midge Eliassen)

With her good humor and self-effacing style, Amy Rosenfeld narrowly escaped a career in comedy. Had a college internship with the Letterman Show worked out, she might have missed being on-site for some of sport's lowest and highest points, including the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the USA Women's World Cup victory in 1999.

At the Mosquito Annual Meeting on May 18, sports producer Rosenfeld, who grew up in Concord and now lives in Carlisle, said she rebounded from her Letterman disappointment by taking a job with NESN (New England Sports Network) as "the lowest of the low. "I had to work up to making the coffee." She eventually became NESN's Red Sox and Bruins producer and continued in that job for eight years before going out on her own as a free-lance sports producer. As confirmed by her prodigious collection of press passes, she has covered events as diverse as Red Sox and Bruins games, World Cup soccer and Olympic curling.

What is a producer?

To explain what a producer does, Rosenfeld asked us to imagine the making of a baseball game on television. Multiple people with varying roles occupy "a giant 18-wheeler with 50 screens" from cameras placed at different points throughout the stadium. "The director makes the decisions about cameras; the producer does everything else" to orchestrate a coherent story line, decide when replays are necessary, include sponsors' promotions, insert sports trivia, and break for commercials. She is assisted by a range of subordinates who each have responsibility for an aspect of the production.

The producer has a direct feed to the announcers through which they can communicate back and forth. One of Rosenfeld's funniest stories involved getting a cell-phone call from her father in the middle of a World Cup game, warning her that her supposedly private comments to announcers could be heard on-air. "You can hear me?" she shrieked, to the amusement of everyone listening to the broadcast. A rainstorm had shorted out the kill switch. "Thankfully we hadn't said anything too embarrassing," she shuddered.

Tragedy in Atlanta

When NESN assigned her to cover the Olympic Village at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Rosenfeld looked forward to an exciting experience. But while working on a story about trading Olympic pins at Atlanta's Centennial Park, "suddenly I noticed people running past me. Some were screaming. This was definitely something bad." While she cowered behind a trash can, her cameraman dove into the fray and was able to get the first pictures of the devastation after the bombing that had taken place, killing a woman. Reflecting on her cameraman's award-winning performance versus her own timidity, Rosenfeld says, "I realized I had a way to go to be a journalist."

The decision to take more risks led her to become a free-lancer. "It was not easy in the beginning. I spent many months without anything." Although now she turns down work, at first, she took anything, including "events with border collies catching Frisbees." The first time she was asked to cover a curling event at the Salt Lake Olympics "I didn't know what curling was. I bought 'Curling for Dummies' and read it on the plane."

Covering the Women's World Cup

A highlight of Rosenfeld's career was the 1999 Women's World Cup which she produced as a free-lancer for NESN and ABC. Initially it was seen as a ho-hum event, but momentum built as the series took on a theme of "I am woman, I am America." For the first time in history, Giants stadium sold out for any event. "It was huge."

As the series progressed, Rosenfeld learned she was to produce a pre-game show that included President Clinton with every executive of ABC and Disney, including Michael Eisner, in attendance. However, on the critical day, the Secret Service decreed that until they cleared the area for the president's arrival, no one was allowed to move from where they were at the time the plane touched down. That's how Rosenfeld ended up spending her last preparatory minutes "locked in a bathroom stall at the Rose Bowl. It was a real find-yourself moment."

Keeping Brandi's bra

"I want to explain why I have Brandi's bra," says Rosenfeld, introducing one of her favorite mementos — not the famous bra revealed when Brandi Chastain tore her shirt off in triumph at the USA World Cup win, but a Brandi bra, nonetheless. Rosenfeld came into possession of the item when she was devising a way to wire the players with microphones. The answer was a pouch in the back of the bra. A bad moment was realized, however, at Mia Hamm's last game, when she fell backward and began to roll in pain, apparently a victim of a microphone-induced injury. "I've just broken Mia Hamm!" Rosenfeld feared, until she learned the soccer star was okay.

Questions from the audience included a complaint about "tight shots of the manager chewing and spitting" in coverage of Red Sox games and the U.S.-centric approach to Olympic coverage. Rosenfeld believes "The audience is too sophisticated to wrap ourselves in the flag" and that a focus on U.S. athletes can fail, as was the case in the past Winter Olympics. "If Bode Miller is a disappointment, it makes sense to embrace a Norwegian." A student's question about cultural learning elicited the comment that "There's real [broadcasting] talent" in third world nations such as Granada, Mexico, Trinidad and others she visited in World Cup rounds. "We just have better toys."

Rosenfeld says she moved to Carlisle from Boston in 2000 "to escape the stress." At first she had to be convinced to look here. "Growing up in Concord, Carlisle was really the sticks. These were like farmers."

Her next step may be to extend her career into the realm of entertainment. She recently produced the Red Carpet Emmys for daytime TV and would like to do more work in that area. Whatever direction she takes, her storytelling ability and sense of humor should stand her in good stead.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito