Interview: Marcy Barkan, Emmy Award-Winning Sports Production Professional
Marcy Barkan is an Emmy Award-winning sports production professional with over a decade of TV sports experience, including work on multiple Olympic games, HBO, and the MLB Network. Marcy is now a production coordinator at the MLB Network.
How did you get your first TV job out of college?
I’m an avid NY Giants football fan and I thought it would be cool to work in sports TV, so when I was looking for a summer internship during my sophomore year of college, I looked in sports production. I did a lot of networking. Someone sent me from one person to another and then I got a name it turned out I knew—my old camp counselor! She was now working in sports production at NBC, running the features unit for the upcoming 1996 Olympics (which were the following summer). She happened to be looking for an intern!
After that internship, I worked the following summer out of Atlanta for the ‘96 Olympics as an intern. Then I went back to college for my senior year and upon graduation, she hired me. They had just started a show called The Olympic Show, a magazine show for CNBC featuring Olympians that would compete in the 2000 Olympics. This unit would also be responsible for the features that would air on the network during the Sydney Olympics.
The contract for the magazine show was only through 2002 – (it ended after the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics) and I stayed until then. During that time, I started as intern, then became a production assistant and moved up to associate producer. I eventually got the opportunity to start to produce my own features.
What are “features?”
They’re the backstory on the athletes that you’re profiling or featuring. For examples, post-Sydney Olympics I did a follow-up with a cyclist who was preparing for the Athens Olympics. We went to his hometown, interviewed his family, and put together a story on what he was doing post-Olympics.
During the Olympics, the features are the stories you see about the athletes while the Olympics are airing. For example, while the swimmers are getting ready to race, the coverage cuts to a story about one of the swimmers’ childhood and path to the Olympics. You want to have a reason to care about what you’re watching. One of the NBC Olympics “mantras” that was handed down from Dick Ebersol is that what makes a great Olympics producer is being a great storyteller. The editing has to be good, but you have to be able to tell a story.