Dec. 22, 2015
Sports Anchor Crams Two Dozen Star Wars References Into Sportscast (UPDATED With Q-And-A)
FOSG Wes Blankenship decided to go all "Star Wars" for his sportscast the other night...
For that, we say Mazel Tov for all the hard work...
We have a line out to Wes to find out the background about his laser-like focus... as the YouTube video has gone private now...
“The Millennium Falcons’ last win seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”
“Matt Ryan used to be a celebrity in ATL. Every defence he has faced lately has been a star killer.”
“Ewoks, no he dives into the endzone. Don’t get cocky kid, you were a Wookiee just a year ago.”
“The Jags would C-3P over the crossbar.”
“He has one hand in a cast, so he intercepts it with just a Hans Solo.”
“The Falcons just Obi-Wan a game for the first time since October 25th.”
“Atlanta isn’t his daddy, but the Falcons have a test against Luke Kuechly and the Panthers next week.”
Best. Broadcast. Ever.
Thanks Dan! I made it to Australia, guys RT :you my friend, are a genius— Wes Blankenship (@Wes_nship)
More when we know more...
PM UPDATE: We know more...
We caught up with Wes to find out how all this stuff came out of his brain and onto the screens around the world...
How did you come up with the idea...???
I'll start by saying that I am blessed to have a job that lets me use creativity. I talk about sports every day, and get paid to do it. God has wired my mind to write, make pictures and tell peoples' stories. I don't take that lightly.
As a Georgia sports anchor who eagerly waited for 'The Force Awakens' since last Thanksgiving, I already had the "Millennium Falcons" pun rattling around in my head. I was watching the Falcons - Jags game Sunday afternoon, and saw Paul Posluszny intercept a pass with a cast on his hand. The "Hand Solo" line just kind of hit me at that moment. I had seen Sian Welby's video earlier (the UK weather girl who worked the Star Wars references into her forecast). I thought it might be a fun way to tie the Falcons into the 'Force Awakens' frenzy, but I didn't seriously consider using all those puns.
When I started to write a standard lead into my highlights that night, I thought about how they finally won on their seventh attempt. 'The Force Awakens' is the seventh Star Wars film, and at that point I went all-in. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have done the segment if Atlanta didn't win that game, or if they weren't on a six-game losing skid.
How long did it take to come up with the whole segment...???
I visited my fiancee, Brittany, who lives in Atlanta, on Sunday. The drive back gave me some time to reflect on the key moments in the game, and think about some lines / character references that could apply to those situations. At that point the ideas pretty much started flowing. (Defenses being a "Starkiller" for Matt Ryan, "There is another.." in reference to Atlanta's second touchdown of the day, the Falcons took the lead after a 17-17 score made them "Tie fighters", etc.).
Blake Bortles is Brittany's cousin, so I wanted to respectfully work him in to the script. His initials worked well with a new droid, BB-8 ("BB ate him up..." on a post-interception tackle).
Shayne Graham kicked a few field goals in the game, so I wanted to use the "see three 'P' o-ver the cross bar" line. I wanted to get R2 in there as well, but only if I could back up the pun. After combing the Jags' roster I was happy to find that yes, there are two D-II alums on the team (Dan Skuta from Grand Valley State, and Chris Reed from Minnesota State. Reed's on the practice squad, but I ran with that.)
Any phrases that didn't make the cut or didn't quite fit...???
I really wanted to avoid spoilers, so I stuck with more of the original trilogy quotes (and avoided any lines from the unpopular prequels). Admiral Ackbar's "It's a trap!" line is great (and would have worked well on a play-action pass) but it's gotten so much play on the internet already that I wanted to push myself. I was having fun with it, and wanted to come up with some other applications for different quotes and themes.
How many of the movies have you seen...???
All seven. Caught 'The Force Awakens' with friends and family on opening night, and looking forward to seeing it again with my dad when I'm home for Christmas.
What's reaction been like...???
It's an honor to have my work out there like that, but at the same time it's pretty strange. My role here is not to be a part of the story online or on the air, but to tell it. I certainly didn't expect it to get the play it has. I will admit, it's pretty cool that a few writers have called me a Jedi.
What's the next frontier for you...???
Well, I like to have fun with my sportscasts, but I typically don't do segments with all the puns and that kind of thing on the air. Like I said before, this one just kind of worked out with the release of Star Wars and the Falcons ending their losing streak. The next frontier for me is just continuing to report, anchor and tell stories like I've done throughout my career here at WMAZ.
Any advice to those younger than you who want to get into the business...???
It's important to remember that broadcast news is always changing, but the principles of being a journalist are still at the heart of what we do. Sports anchors and reporters, especially, have fun with your storytelling! In doing that, don't forget to make a connection with your audience and the people you report on. Tell their stories, instead of using this platform to seek acclaim for yourself.
Best advice you got...???
My journalism professor and mentor, Mark Johnson, reminded our class all the time: "Don't be afraid to fail." That doesn't mean you should be OK with your failures - just don't fear them ahead of time.
After a tough night on the anchor desk several months ago, my sports director and WMAZ legend Frank Malloy had some baseball-themed encouragement for me. Frank told me to move on from less-than-spectacular nights as if I were a pitcher who had a bad game on the mound. You can't beat yourself up about stumbling on names or getting a score wrong. Make it right, keep doing your job, and have a blast doing it.
Well done, Sir Knight... Well done...