Upstarts get thrill of victory with Sports Emmy upsets

Wins for 'Wheel,' TNT's Johnson

NBC Sports brought home nine awards Monday during the 28th annual Sports Emmys ceremony, including three for its coverage of the XX Olympic Winter Games. But the Turin games didn't get the gold in the top category in one of the night's upsets.

NASCAR Images/Speed Channel's "Beyond the Wheel" prevailed in the outstanding live event turnaround category against the odds-on favorite, NBC's 2006 Winter Olympics telecast, as well as CBS' "Tour de France" and NFL Network's "Game of the Week." And voters picked TNT's Ernie Johnson, who has battled cancer during the past two years, as outstanding studio host against such heavyweights as Bob Costas, Joe Buck and James Brown.

ESPN/ABC Sports won 10 awards, including four each for ABC and ESPN and one each for ESPN2 and ESPN.com. TNT won four awards, including Johnson's honor and two for its NBA coverage. Fox Sports won three awards as did HBO, with critics' favorite "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" taking home two, including outstanding sports journalism for a feature called "Uninsured."

Fox Sports won another big award, live sports special, with "MLB on Fox: Postseason." It also won nods for its NASCAR and NFL coverage.

One Sports Emmy apiece went to CBS, Fox Sports Net, NFL Network, Race2Replace.com/Discovery and little-known BeingStanley.com. Red Line Films won two awards for the documentary "One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stu Ungar" (which aired on ESPN) and shared in another.

Cris Collinsworth took home two awards: one for outstanding studio analyst for his work with HBO Sports and NBC's "Sunday Night Football" and another for sports event analyst for the NFL Network's inaugural season of its primetime game telecasts.

"Absolutely unprecedented," NBC/HBO host Costas said of Collinsworth's dual wins.

Al Michaels, who switched from ABC to NBC between football seasons, was named outstanding play-by-play announcer.

The Winter Olympics took home three awards: music composition, graphic design and the George Wensel Technical Achievement for high-definition telecasts. It had been nominated in 10 categories. NBC also received awards for "SNF," "2006 Ford Ironman World Championship" and "Jeep World of Adventure Sports."

Two of ABC's awards went for work on the NBA Finals.

TNT received a handful of awards, including "NASCAR on TNT & NBC" as outstanding live sports series, and its humor-filled "Inside the NBA: Playoffs" won for outstanding studio show. "The NBA on TNT" won an editing honor as well. The weekly studio show award went to ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown."

Honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award was Don Ohlmeyer, who made his mark on sports TV and, as head of NBC, brought the network from third place to first in the 1990s.

"He has had the most uniquely diversified career that anyone has ever had in the history of television," NBC Sports & Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol said. Ebersol, who started as a production assistant at ABC Sports in the 1960s at the same time as Ohlmeyer, presented the award to his longtime friend.

Ebersol spoke of a man he called — like their mutual mentor Roone Arledge — a larger-than-life figure: the college student who won a PA job at ABC in a pool hall in South Bend, Ind., against legendary director Chet Forte; the 27-year-old producer at the dawn of "Monday Night Football" and six Olympics, including the terror at Munich in 1972; executive producer at NBC Sports who pioneered the announcerless game; a consultant at ESPN who boosted "SportsCenter" to center stage; and entertainment president at NBC.

Ebersol recalled that Ohlmeyer was the director for the 1972 Olympics who, when the German government cut the TV feed, wheeled two cameras from the studio onto the Munich streets. Ebersol also said that when Ohlmeyer became NBC Entertainment chief, he had it written into his contract that he would direct the Indianapolis 500 telecasts.

Ohlmeyer paid tribute to Arledge, saying he owed his success to him.

"Even those who have never met him, he had a profound mark on your life and your livelihood," Ohlmeyer said. He said that Arledge taught him that "the only thing that matters is what comes across the screen."

ESPN/Red Line Films' "Stu Ungar," a documentary about the tragic life of a World Series of Poker winner, won twice. The Dick Schaap Writing Award went to Al Szymanski, who produced and wrote the documentary, which also won outstanding sports documentary. Red Line Films also shared with ESPN2 in postproduction audio/sound for "Timeless."

Poker was the subject of another award, "MansionPoker.net Poker Dome Challenge," from FSN, its first Emmy. The show was also in one of the key categories, live-event turnaround, but didn't win.

Broadband awards went to the "Race 2 Replace" series from Race2Replace.com and Discovery Communications; ESPN.com for "The Real Frozen Tundra: Barrow, Alaska"; and BeingStanley.com, a Web site created for the NHL by Catman & Mary Prods. about the history of the Stanley Cup. It took awhile for those winners to arrive onstage, leading presenters Dick Enberg and Jim Nantz to ask: "Are they on the way? Were they invited?"

The event was held at the Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Presenters included many of the top talent on sports television, including multiple Emmy winners Costas and Buck as well as analysts Tim McCarver, Darrell Waltrip and Mary Carillo.
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