If it looked like Brian Williams, CTV’s anchor for the 2012 London Olympics, was emotional as he signed off on August 12 there was a good reason why. Williams, 66, knows that the London Games could mean 14 Olympics and done. CTV is out of the Olympics game after CBC regained the contract to telecast the Games in 2014 from Sochi and 2016 from Rio de Janeiro
“If it was the last Olympics I cover, I’m very proud of all 14 Olympics I’ve done,” Williams told Usual Suspects as he prepared to resume his CFL work for TSN. “I won’t kid you, it was very emotional as I signed off for our final show from London. Hey, they’re always hard to get through, you form a new family whenever you work that hard with so many good people. But yes, the thought occurred to me that this might be it.
“The Olympics are special to me and billions of people around the world. They draw as many non-sports fans as sports fans. It’s not like hockey or football most of the time where you have to be a sports fan to watch. It’s the biggest regularly scheduled peaceful event in the world.”
After decades as the face of CBC’s Olympic coverage, Williams jumped to CTV when it won the Canadian rights to broadcast the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games and the London 2012 Summer Games. With CBC regaining the upcoming rights, it appears he’s the odd-man out for the principal anchor chair, at least. CBC has talked about subletting some of its Olympic rights. If TSN/CTV obtained them, Williams could find his way back onto Olympic telecasts, just not as the main host.
Williams insists that he’s not looking to jump back to CBC to keep his Olympic hosting streak intact. “I’m here (at CTV/ TSN),” he says. “This is where I belong now. I’ll just go back to doing my CFL work and get ready for the Grey Cup game this year in Toronto.”
How does he sum up London? “London was the perfect city to follow Vancouver. There was a lot of whining in Britain before the Games started about the cost, the security and the bother of the Games going back to when Vancouver hosted. But I always said, just let the home team do well and everything will be alright. Sure enough, when the British started winning golds, the British press were the biggest cheerleaders for the Games.”
His favourite moment was when Princes William and Harry dropped by and called him “Brian. They don’t usually do that.” Off-camera Williams asked the young princes how they felt watching the video of their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, purportedly parachuting from a helicopter. “Harry joked that he was flying the chopper and William pushed his grandmother out the door. They were really special.”
bold Move: Apparently CBC did not include showing its future Olympic coverage on its cable channel bold. The lower-case network has been sold to Blue Ant Media, a company 25 per cent owned by Torstar. Since being renamed from its original Country Canada, bold has been a costly asset that CBC was unable to leverage into a profitable channel. It does remove one platform from CBC as it looks to place the Olympic coverage.
Where Credit Is Due: In Monday’s column we credited Deadspin with exposing the tweeter @Hockeyinsiderr. Deadspin in fact was publishing the fine sleuthing of @kyriacou22 who traced the tweeter’s mysterious origins.
My Heart Like A Kick Drum: For Global TV Calgary sportscaster Kevin Smith and his wife Andrea, it was not the easiest introduction to parenthood. When their son Jaxon was born three months prematurely in 2005 (below), he weighed just one pound. The odds of survival were daunting. The odds of a normal life challenging. The odds of winding up on NBC’s Today Show infinitesimal.
Yet that’s where seven-year-old Jaxon wound up in July after producers of the show found a site showing Jaxon drumming to his favourite band, the Foo Fighters. Jaxon’s father had posted it on Youtube in February, receiving 2000 views over five months . Then Kelly Hrudey of Hockey Night In Canada tweeted about Jaxon. One of Hrudey’s followers put it on an voting website and suddenly there were 740,000 views in two weeks. (The site now has 764,500 hits)
That’s when the Today Show contacted the family and brought Kevin, wife Andrea, Jaxon and his two-year-old sister Rya to New York City. Jaxon performed live on The Today Show on July 17th. A feature for Inside Edition is scheduled for September, and a host of other sites picked up on it. There are plans afoot for other projects and the possibility of actually drumming with the Foo Fighters is still out there. He managed to snag the play list when Pearl Jam noticed him air drumming during their concert in Calgary.
While his paternal grandparents were music teachers, Jaxon is self taught, having graduated early from pots and pans to a drum kit. Smith says it’s been fun, but it’s also been great to send a message to parents who might be struggling with premature babies themselves. “If Jax can help them, then it’s really been worthwhile,” Smith told Usual Suspects. “Where it goes from here, who knows? But seeing him play with the Foo Fighters would be great. It tells you so many things are possible.”
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