I was excited on Sunday night. The Eagles were only 4-5, but they were playing the mighty 9-1 San Francisco 49ers. I still had memories of the 40-8 drubbing they’d put on the Niners three years earlier. Maybe the Birds could turn around the 1997 season with a big win on Monday Night Football. Eagles coach Ray Rhodes was interviewed on the field before the game. He was asked what the Eagles were going to do that night. He said something to the effect of, “We’re going to run the ball, and we’re going to pass the ball.”
In-depth strategy, I thought. We’re going to get killed.
It turns out the Eagles did lose, 24-12, and the game wasn’t particularly close. But here’s what made headlines: Scores of fistfights in the stands. A fan fired a flare gun across the stadium. That Monday night game ended up being the catalyst for the creation of Eagles Court, an in-stadium hall of justice of such renown Seamus McCaffrey rode the publicity all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
See? It’s exciting when the Eagles play on national TV. You never know what it’s going to lead to!
I’m pumped when any local sports team has a nationally-televised game. It’s usually an important one against a top team. But there’s also the feeling of dread that a Philadelphia fan or athlete will inevitably do something embarrassing and the whole country will view the city in a bad light.
It’s also a chance for the city to shine, to show a little personality in the b-roll bumpers coming back from commercial break. Unfortunately, the city looks pretty much the same every time. Comedian Jim Grammond put it best: “According to NFL broadcasts, after Philadelphians ingest our four daily cheesesteaks, we go to the Liberty Bell and stare for a while.” Toss in shots of the Rocky statue and ancient b-roll missing the Comcast Center you pretty much have the whole set.
I get it. People from out of town don’t know much about Philadelphia besides cheesesteaks and Rocky Balboa. And footage of other cities during sports broadcast are most likely equally cliched. But they can be better! And so, I present—free of charge—eight better ideas for b-roll than the usual suspects.
1. Other food products besides cheesesteaks
I feel bad picking on NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast, which is (a) about as flawless as sports coverage gets and (b) features badass shots of the skyline. (The broadcast also showed 30th Street Station from the Schuylkill River Trail, which is a decent shot.) It even got the cheesesteak footage right, shooting footage at Dalessandro’s, the beloved Roxborough cheesesteak joint, instead of b-roll mainstays Pat’s and Geno’s.
But cheesesteaks aren’t the only food in town. Yes, the rest of the country might only know cheesesteaks, but that doesn’t mean the footage can’t show Philadelphians chowing down on soft pretzels, tomato pies or roast pork. An announcer could even reference cheesesteaks while commenting that Philadelphians also enjoy other foods as well. Or maybe Tony’s should stay a Northeast Philly secret? I don’t know.
2. Other tourist attractions besides the Liberty Bell and the LOVE Sculpture
That’s quite a pretty shot of LOVE Park from Sunday night, but the sculpture? It’s a bit overplayed. It’s not even the only one in the city. There’s even one in Taipei! If you’re going to go with a piece of pop art near CIty Hall, why not the Clothespin? Go behind it and you get the great visual of it matching up with City Hall. There’s also the crashed plane at Lenfest Plaza, any number of museums downtown—the Rodin, the Barnes, the African-American Museum, the Constitution Center. Or why not go to Pizza Brain, the world’s only pizza museum?
3. Ben Franklin Bridge
I’ve waxed esoteric about the bridge elsewhere, but the Ben Franklin Bridge is legit gorgeous. I don’t know why it’s not more of a symbol of the city. Because it heads to New Jersey? The skyline shot is pretty from the walkway, the bridge is amazing when lit up at night and the chief engineer on it was Ralph Modjeski, one of this nation’s great Polish-Americans. Think how excited Port Richmond will be!
4. Magic Gardens, 10th and South
Yo, the Magic Gardens are legit. What better way to show off Philadelphia than by highlighting our giant garbage mosaic garden? This is more Philadelphia to me than any other spot.
5. Reading Terminal Market
I always think of the Reading Terminal as unique, but every city I visit seems to have a giant food market of its kind. But Philly does have one thing nobody else can touch: The Pennsylvania Dutch selling incredible baked goods. Or, I dunno, maybe not; there are Pennsylvania Dutch as far west as Indiana and as far north as Ontario. But they have Pennsylvania right in the name! I think we get to claim them. Plus I think this one girl flirts with me when I buy rye bread there and the food is excellent. Hmm, now I’m hungry.
6. The Jane Seymour Mural, 15th and South
Really, any mural will do. But why not go with the best? My taste aside, the Mural Arts Program is one of the city’s most popular exports, and it seems silly we’re not peppered with shots of sports murals during sporting events. Shouldn’t every Phillies game feature b-roll of the Philadelphia Stars mural?
7. Other movies besides Rocky
There’s so much to choose from: G-Ho streets for The Sixth Sense, the Wanamaker’s building for Mannequin, City Hall pretending to be France in Transformers 2. Even other shots from the Rocky series would do! Take an exterior of Irish Pub and mention the vastly-better-than-it-should-be Rocky Balboa.
8. A random viewer’s couch.
Television loves obnoxious Twitter contests. So why not have a lame retweet or hashtag (“#getontvphilly”) contest where one lucky viewer gets to be shown on television coming out of a commercial break! This would annoy the hell out of everyone, but at least it’d be different.