Going to have to keep an eye in this program:
Madison Square Garden top moments
October 30, 2006
TV rule of thumb: Any production that coaxes both Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead and Patrick Ewing to sit down for revealing, amusing interviews is worth a look.
So it is with MSG's "The 50 Greatest Moments at Madison Square Garden," an ambitious, year-long effort that debuts tonight with the first of 10 one-hour episodes; it is a centerpiece of the plan to reinvent the channel as a sports/entertainment hybrid focused on Garden events.
That will be a tricky, perhaps unworkable idea. But this is a case in which it works.
The series includes 206 interviews on events from the 1947 Joe Louis-Jersey Joe Walcott fight to "Mark Messier Night" in January (the first Garden opened in 1879; the show covers only the post-World War II era).
The wide net cast by the Garden was illustrated at a screening in Greenwich Village Thursday that drew the likes of Walt Frazier, John McEnroe and concert promoter Ron Delsener.
Larry Israel, the executive producer, said word of mouth from fellow Garden alums helped the list of big names interviewed grow into the dozens. "When the Garden wants something, they have a lot of ability and tentacles everywhere where they can make things happen for you," Israel said.
Viewers will have to put up with some heavy-handed gushing about what the Garden means in people's lives and to the city itself, but it's worth it to get to the good stuff.
The opener features the 1999 Holyfield-Lewis fight, Ewing's Knicks debut, The Dead's Garden shows, Gretzky's 1997 playoff hat trick and Pearl Washington's Big East exploits.
Ewing even smiles!
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