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ESPN Visits Local Bookstore to Film College Basketball Rivalry Week Segments

A team of ESPN producers from West Hartford, Avon, and Farmington chose On the Road Bookshop as a backdrop for their clips.

The heart and soul of great basketball rivalries doesn’t just exist on the court but also in the old pennants, pictures and books found in quaint used bookstores.

With plenty of sports memorabilia, a unique Canton shop and a little digital magic, ESPN is creating several 30-second book and memorabilia-themed clips that will be shown during its college basketball rivalry week, Feb. 11 to 18.

On Wednesday, a small crew from ESPN’s event production department visited On the Road Bookshop in Canton. Using the store's shelves and features as a backdrop, the crew added banners, old photographs and other items they brought to create the scenes for the broadcasts.

Taking both video and stills, the team shot scenes to be used as segments during major games throughout the week, such as North Carolina vs. Duke and UConn vs. Syracuse, both set to air on Feb. 13.

“I envisioned a cozy, little, quaint used book store,” said producer Bryan Rourke, an Avon resident.

Rourke learned of the Canton store after reading a feature story on Patch.

“I fell in love with On the Road Bookshop,” he said. “You can’t recreate that feeling you get in a used book store.” Producer Bryan Jaroch, a West Hartford resident, liked the shop, too.

Still Rourke visited a few places before making the ultimate decision. 

"It confirms my belief that even in this modern time people still appreciate old books," store owner Susan Grzyb said. "Bryan, the producer, chose my shop after visiting several others, including Barnes & Noble, because of the atmosphere and the old books. So today I watched them working with modern cameras and checking their high-tech smartphones, all the while appreciating my old-fashioned low-tech bookshop. There really is a place for both in the world."

The crew, all employees of ESPN in Bristol, spent much of the day at the store, using a still camera, high-end digital SLR camera to shoot video, plenty of lamps, and props from the ESPN archives.

Jason Fiedler, senior post production editor, said it will take some 50 hours of editing to produce the daily segments, as well as a few extra scenes.

The company will combine the still and moving images, along with some digital effects, and will add titles such as "The Battle for Tobacco Road” for the Duke vs. Carolina game. The segments will also include voiceovers and acoustic music. 

Grzyb said it was fun to watch the filming portion and she appreciated the respect the crew showed to the items in the store and her dog Brock. 

"I had an interesting day seeing behind-the-scenes work that most people don't get to watch," she said. 

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