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All-Star telecast seeks KC's defining images

Friday, July 6, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — There will be a moment in the live broadcast of the 83rd All-Star Game when images of Kansas City flash across TV screens.

Call them personality or establishing shots. They are frequently used in television, not just to establish a location but also to represent a city's spirit.

Some cities make it easy for Pete Macheska, a lead Fox Sports producer who will work his eighth All-Star Game this year.

Philly's got the Liberty Bell. New York? The Statue of Liberty.

Those are obvious icons. But Macheska hasn't been to Kansas City in ages.

"Send me an email," he told a reporter. "I could use any suggestions."

Who can blame him?

R. Crosby Kemper III, the Kansas City Public Library's executive director, has seen what sports broadcasts have shot of the city before. St. Louis has its Arch, but representing Kansas City requires a little more brainpower.

"They are big on stadiums and big buildings, which is fine," Kemper said. He pauses.

"But it's less imaginative."

His suggestions are more diverse.

You've got the Kansas City Library parking garage, built to look like book spines and bearing titles chosen by the community. It's a weird representation of what is new and fun and funky here, he said. And then the Scout statue in Penn Valley Park, a Native American perched on a horse and looking West, history captured in bronze.

Kansas City has at least one no-brainer, said Anita Gorman, commissioner emeritus of Kansas City Parks & Recreation Department.

Fountains.

We've got more than 200, Gorman said. "We're called the City of Fountains. They've got to be included."

Another logical icon: The Liberty Memorial, the country's national World War I museum, is the only location where all five military leaders of the Allied Forces met in 1921.

"It's a piece of history that no one else has," Gorman said.

Not surprisingly, local artist and business owner Stretch hopes Fox producers get "down and dirty" — unlike the Travel Channel's "No Reservations." When food writer Anthony Bourdain came to town for the show, viewers tuned in for footage of a few barbecue joints, the West Bottoms, quick shots of the railroad and a Chiefs game.

"You would have thought it was a tiny town in the middle of country that people had completely forgot," Stretch said.

He hopes Fox captures the "rockin'" atmosphere of Crossroads on First Friday, the upper west side homes that overlook the West Bottoms or the Phoenix Jazz Club on Eighth and Central and the historic Savoy Hotel around the corner.

Even the giant shuttlecocks in the sculpture park next to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art meet his cut.

Kemper agrees, but he understands those that don't want their city to be represented by a grandiose homage to badminton.

"Would I want that to be the one thing people remember about Kansas City?" he said. "Probably not."

Both men have strong opinions on what else shouldn't represent the city.

Kemper hopes TV crews stay away from the four metal pylons, sometimes called "hair curlers," on top of Bartle Hall. Even locals, he said, say, "What's that?"

"They are on the way to becoming iconic within Kansas City," Kemper said. "But I don't know if they are to people outside of it."

Stretch has simpler thoughts: "I'd hate to see Legoland get the credit."

Regardless of what Fox chooses, Kemper thinks little is at risk in the second-long footage of the city that will be consumed by fervid baseball fans on their television screens.

"I'm not a huge believer in the long-run PR aspects of this," Kemper said.

"They (Fox Sports) are trying to catch the atmosphere of the game, and I don't know if the city really comes through in that."


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