Sunday, August 13, 2000


Burrow doing Big O bio

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Donn Burrows has between 50 and 100 hours of tape on Oscar Robertson, but Burrows is looking for more.

        “If anybody has home movies from Crispus Attucks High School or UC or the Royals, I'm interested,” Burrows said.

        Burrows is trying to put together the definitive story of Robertson's life. The project has Robertson's stamp of approval, which has been key to getting interviews.

        Burrows has talked to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Red Auerbach. He'll interview John Wooden this week.

        “Having Oscar behind it has been huge in terms of getting people to sit down with me,” Burrows said.

        The project actually was partly Robertson's idea.

        “I had lunch with Oscar around his 60th birthday,” Burrows said. “We got to talking. No one has ever written Oscar's authorized biography.

        “Writing is not my thing. Video is. This is intended to be Oscar's biography.”

        Burrows, a former sports anchor at Channel 12, has done this kind of thing before. He did a biography of Waite Hoyt that came out last year. He also did one on Aaron Pryor's life. That aired on Channel 64 in the 1980s. Both of those documentaries were first-class productions.

        The Robertson video will be sold to individuals; Burrows has no plans of it being aired. Burrows broke even on the Hoyt video, selling 3,000 copies.

        He's aiming much higher.

        “A best-selling book is one that sells 50,000 copies,” Burrows said. “That's what we're shooting for. Oscar is truly a world-wide figure. Mention his name, and anyone who knows basketball will recognize it.”

        Burrows has come up with a lot of rare footage, going back to Robertson's day as a high school player. He also has home movies from the 1960 Rome Olympics.

        “Oscar had a vault of stuff from his Royals days,” Burrows said.

        Burrows thinks the rare footage that goes back to Robertson's earliest days will give him a fresh angle. ESPN profiled Robertson as part of their series on the 50 greatest athletes of the 20th century.

        “They really didn't go into his childhood,” Burrows said. “Some of the interviews will be with some of the same people, but this is 90 minutes. Theirs, with commercials, was only about 25 minutes, so this will be much more in depth.”

        Burrows is shooting for a June 2001 release.

        “We'd like to bring it out around the time of the NBA Finals,” he said. “But that may be tough. This is a four- to six-month edit. So we may have to push it back to November.”

        If you have any film of Robertson, Burrows would like to talk to you. He can be reached at 699-3228 or via e-mail at

        VCR ALERT: Ali-Frazier I: One Nation ... Divisible will premier Thursday on HBO. It's part of the network's terrific “Sports of the 20th Century” series.

        CRIS-BOOMER SHOW?: Cris Collinsworth and Boomer Esiason do not have a deal yet with WLW-AM (700) to do their weekly NFL show. Collinsworth is hopeful something will be worked out.

        X FACTOR: In case you missed the first five, the sixth X Games begin Thursday with a two-hour kickoff show on ESPN. ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will show a total of 28 hours. The problem is figuring the competition from the Mountain Dew commercials.

        John Fay covers radio/TV sports for The Enquirer. He can be reached at (513) 768-8445.


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