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Inside the CFL: The next TV stars?

Ted Michaels, CFL Editor

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - The football expression "the eye in the sky don't lie," will take on a whole new meaning this year.

In essence, the adage means that whether it's a practice, or a game, camera's record everything, so players have no place to hide.

This season, there'll be more camera's following the players of one CFL team. The Toronto Argonauts will be featured in a new documentary that will give fans an all-access pass to the inner-workings of a CFL team.

TSN, the CFL's television partner, will broadcast the four-part series, which will follow the Argos from the start of training camp, to the Labour Day Weekend game on September 2, against the BC Lions.

Aquila Productions will produce the series, which promises to take viewers inside the dressing room, meeting room and boardroom.

The same company produced the excellent six-part documentary series, OIL CHANGE, which featured an exclusive look inside the Edmonton Oilers organization during the 2010-11 NHL regular season.

The first of its kind for the CFL, the documentary series will premiere at the start of the 2011 CFL regular season and air throughout the summer.

Argos President Bob Nicholson said the whole organization bought in.

"The guys on the team are great ambassadors for the game, and that lends itself well to this type of series. Not everyone is prepared to grant this type of access, but we have an owner (David Braley) and a GM/head coach (Jim Barker) who was very open to basically have the cameramen live with us for a few months."

Nicholson said, Aquila will have total editorial freedom.

"I don't think there's anything we'd pull back on. We'd see it prior to going to air, but at that point it's in the state of final completion. We told them we'd like to go over some story lines before they start filming, but clearly, they've established in training camp some of the things they're going to follow, and that will be the basis of the first show."

But, what do players think about camera's following their every move?

"When the producer talked to some of them about the idea, they all thought it was a great idea, and the camera should be following them all the way through camp," Nicholson laughed. "They've been very receptive to it and the producer told them, if it's like it was in Edmonton, the players eventually lose focus of the camera, and basically tune it out."

Nicholson added, in a tough media market like Toronto, it's important to keep the profile of the Argos up.

"In our game, it can be tough to promote the players, the guys that play the game. We have to get the helmets off them. This is a perfect way to build identity not only around our players, but around the league as well. The crew will be traveling with us, and going into some players homes."

One CFL player who will watch with great interest is Justin Medlock.

He's now a Hamilton Tiger-Cat, but in the 2007 season, he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, who were profiled in HBO's "Hard Knocks", which followed the Chiefs during their training camp.

Medlock told Inside the CFL, "I remember them filming me during warm-up, and I made about 24 kicks in a row, missed the 25th and that was the one they used. But, it'll be great for the fans."

Medlock did say, while he understands that it is reality TV, for him, he didn't like it.

"I was a rookie at the time. If I was a vet, it would have been fine. I was in the middle of trying to establish myself. I like watching the show, I think it's really good for the fans, but I don't like watching myself."

That may be the case, but I suspect this series will be a huge success.

Kudos to the Argos for agreeing to be a part of it.

Notes: - For the first time ever, CFL pre-season games will be televised. With the exception of the Hamilton at Toronto game, this Saturday, June 18, seven of the eight pre-season game will be shown on TSN.

First up, is the June 15th game, when the BC Lions visit the Stampeders.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter, on AM 900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Ted Michaels at ted@900chml.com.

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