Fred Gaudelli has been the lead producer of the Super Bowl television broadcast on seven different occasions. If you are into Roman numerals, Gaudelli has produced Super Bowls XXXVII, XL, XLIII, XLVI, XLIX, LII, and LVI. He has been in the production truck for some of the most exciting NFL title games in history, including Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, which featured New England Patriots rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepting Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line with 20 seconds left to seal New England’s 28-24 come-from-behind win over Seattle. That game averaged 114.4 million viewers, which ranked as the most-viewed Super Bowl in U.S. television history before last year’s Super Bowl took the title.
During his 33 seasons as the lead producer for an NFL prime-time TV game, which included stops at ABC, ESPN, NBC, and Amazon Prime Video, Gaudelli has produced innumerable NFL games with famous people in the stands. How would he feel about the prospect of Taylor Swift attending Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas on Feb. 11 if he were producing the game?
“I would consider it a gift from the gods,” said Gaudelli.
Gaudelli, because he lives on Planet Earth, knows that Swift crosses over into popular culture and that means the potential for more eyeballs on the product.
The challenge for the CBS Sports production team for Super Bowl LVIII, if Swift does make it to the game to watch boyfriend Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers — is navigating how often you incorporate images of the singer into the broadcast.
The good news for the crew — led by producer Jim Rikhoff, director Mike Arnold and replay producer Ryan Galvin — is that they’ve had the Chiefs plenty this year, including the divisional-round game in Buffalo and AFC Championship Game in Baltimore, both of which Swift attended. It would be editorial dereliction not to show Swift during the game, but at the same time, how much do you show her?
Then there is a new question: How much does the Super Bowl, a game that includes millions of people who are first-time football viewers for that season, impact your decisions on showing her?
“Let’s go to the last Super Bowl I did,” Gaudelli said of the Los Angeles Rams’ win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Feb. 13, 2022. “We had (Rams quarterback) Matthew Stafford, his wife and kids. We had (Bengals quarterback) Joe Burrow’s parents and girlfriend. We had (Rams wide receiver) Cooper Kupp’s wife. We had (Rams offensive lineman) Andrew Whitworth’s wife and kids. We had (Bengals wide receiver) Ja’Marr Chase’s mom and dad. You have these shots set up because they’re part of the story of the game and because there’s five times as many people (watching) as you would get for a normal game. Right off the bat, you’re already thinking about who’s at the game, and in L.A. we had celebrities like LeBron James and Jay-Z. (Director) Drew Esocoff was cutting those shots during the game. So when Stafford threw a touchdown pass, there’s a shot of Stafford’s wife. Burrow is on the ground writhing in pain? You see his mom and dad and his girlfriend with the ultimate look of concern.
“Now you have Taylor Swift, who also is someone that has a direct connection to the game because she’s a significant other of one of the stars of a team. Maybe you don’t show her for every Kelce sequence, but she’s going to be part of sequences when he makes a play.”
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