Monday, February 9, 2009

HBO's Duke-UNC documentary debuts Friday

Minutes before the North Carolina premiere of HBO's documentary "Battle for Tobacco Road: Duke vs. Carolina" on Sunday, Time Warner Cable executive Brian Kelly told the packed house at The Carolina Theatre of Durham that his daughter, a student at UNC, was dating someone at Duke.

"They'll break up!" someone in the crowd shouted.

The one-hour program will first be shown on HBO at 9 p.m. Feb. 13, and HBO Sports did a nice job of digging up archival footage for this piece, which follows the Michigan-Ohio State football rivalry documentary the network produced in 2007. The Duke-Carolina doc, which eventually will be released on DVD, is balanced, and offers fresh takes on familiar story lines from the principal characters, as well as some amusing anecdotes you may not have heard (i.e., Duke's Art Heyman recalling with relish the 1961 brawl in which he punched a certain Carolina character in a sensitive place). N.C. State even gets props for helping to start the rivalry.

It's obvious the tension is still there — at every opportunity, Michael Jordan trash-talks Duke, and the J.R. "Can't" Reid episode is recounted, with bruised feelings still obvious. Referring to Dean Smith's quote favorably comparing the SAT scores of Reid and Scott Williams to those of Duke's Christian Laettner and Danny Ferry, Laettner tweaks the legendary coach: "Everybody makes mistakes. Even Dean Smith makes mistakes."

It's HBO, so the program is profanity-laced in places, and as is typical for sports documentaries, this one relies heavily on interviews with other members of the media, such as former Durham Herald-Sun writer Al Featherston, The Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler and ... Bomani Jones of 620 The Bull and 850 The Buzz?

Hint to HBO: The News & Observer's Caulton Tudor and A.J. Carr each has seen at least 90 UNC-Duke games and, between them, have covered most of them since the mid-1960s. Think they know something about the series?


Anonymous said...

Caulton Tudor is a two bit hack. He bashes UNC just to sell papers. He is to sports what Fox is to news.

Anonymous said...

Another mistake by the "Disturber". The documentary airs Feb. 23, according to and listings. How could you screw up the date of this program, when all it takes is some minimal research to find the actual listings. I hope no one read this article and set their DVR's.

Unknown said...

A.J. Carr is a great writer at the N&O, as well as a great, insightful man. An interview with him would have certainly made this documentary better.

Unknown said...
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