Is HBO's "Hard Knocks" Ready for the Cincinnati Bengals?

Betsy RossContributor IJuly 2, 2009

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 1:  First round draft pick Andre Smith #7 (R) of the Cincinnati Bengals battles with teammate Ryan Madison #61 during rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium on May 1, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

The rest of the world is about to find out what we in Greater Cincinnati already know:

The Bengals are good television.

Take a star-crossed quarterback, a prima donna wideout, and the tortured soul of a once-rising-star coach, and you've got great theater.

That's what HBO is counting on, as "Hard Knocks" prepares for Bengals' training camp later this month in Georgetown, Ky., about 45 miles south of Cincinnati. Director Steve Trout says the choice was surprising to some folks, but not the producers.

"People were surprised why we chose the Bengals," Trout said in a recent interview, "Because we were with the Cowboys last year, and they're a big market team. But we realize the story lines are more important, and the Bengals were one of our top choices."

While the work of shooting the camp won't start until the end of July, preparations have been well under way for several weeks, even before the announcement a couple of months ago.

"We come out and spend a good couple of days scouting all locations in Cincinnati, scouting all locations in Georgetown at their training camp," said Trout. "We meet with coaches, we meet with the owners, we meet with executives, and try to lay out the ground rules of what's going to happen."

And what will happen? Well, that's the fun part. Because, said Trout, no matter what you plan, it's the unexpected that makes the story. "We call it 'being a fly on the wall'," he said.

"So what we expect is being a fly on the wall at a professional football franchise for six weeks, showing you everything from the inside out. And we kind of go in with no expectations, because as things happen, we'll follow it."

With four handheld cameras, six robotic cameras, audio and production assistants, there'll be about 35 members of HBO's crew in Georgetown. And there'll be plenty of material with which to work.

"For every hour you see," said Trout, "there's 200 hours that we shot. So it's .5, one half of one percent of everything we shoot, will end up on air."

But that one half of one percent should be worth the price of admission and more. As T.O. would say, get your popcorn ready.

See more of the Steve Trout interview at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KaxbiDKh4Q


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