Jim Craig and Mike Ramsey
If NBC's saturated coverage of the Winter Olympics from Sochi on multiple TV channels and online isn't enough for you after 18 days, it may be time to visit the Paley Center for Media.
The Paley is now the home of 1,300 hours of televised Olympics programming going back to the first Winter Games carried live on a U.S. network from Squaw Valley, Calif., in 1960, complete with the original announcers, graphics and commercials. The video archive includes real-time coverage of the U.S. hockey team's stunning win over the Soviet Union in 1980 and the black power movement protests at the medal ceremonies during the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City.
The digital restoration of the archive was financed with a major donation from Gordon Crawford, a renowned media investor and chairman of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation. He's a also an Olympics memorabilia buff who showed up annually at the Paley Center to view the video of the games that was already in its collection.
Assembling a complete archive took about a year. Coverage that aired before 1970 was not easy to find as networks often reused videotape and recorded over live events and programs. But Paley Center president and chief executive officer Pat Mitchell says archivists were able to fill the gaps through private collectors, including some who are International Olympic Committee members.
Many of the 1960s hours were rarely seen as most of the Olympic programming ran live, even when Games were staged in Rome and Tokyo, putting many events on in the overnight and early morning hours in the U.S. at the time.
The tapes can only be viewed at the Paley locations in New York City and Beverly Hills as the Paley does not have digital rights outside of its facilities. But if you're Olympics obsessive, it might be worth the trip. "It's not just Olympics history, although that's fabulous to see," says Mitchell. "It's history period."
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