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Q&A with producer of Duke-UNC doc

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Tags: Duke | HBO | UNC

A reminder, if you get HBO, that "Battle for Tobacco Road," the cable network's special on the Duke-North Carolina basketball rivalry, will be aired for the first time tonight at 9 p.m. Plenty of salty anecdotes, interesting archival footage and even a couple of N.C. State references.

If you think attitudes soften over the years, check out this comment in the program from Michael Jordan: "When we look at it, we always say Duke is a great college school, you know? None of their guys come out and become great players in the pros, because they don’t have that in their blood. So there was no love lost at all — and even to this day, that is still ingrained in all Carolina guys, there’s no way you’re going to like anything about Duke.” 

HBO's George Roy, who produced the one-hour documentary, talked about it recently. Scroll to the end of the interview to see the other air times and dates.

N&O: How'd you get the idea?

Roy: We had done one on the Michigan-Ohio [football] rivalry, and it was tremendously well received. It was our first foray into college sports and into the rivalry industry, and we looked around and thought, "Well, there's nothing bigger or better than Duke-Carolina." So, it was kind of a natural progression.

N&O:  Are you planning future rivalry documentaries?

Roy: I don't know. Probably at some point there will be a resurgence. We'll probably give it a bit of a break after this, but then again, I don't make those decisions.

N&O: Was there a challenge to find a new spin on something that has been covered so much?

Roy: There are always challenges. ... Most people acknowledge the fact that the rivalry has really taken place since 1980 on, and yet there are a lot of historical elements to the rivalry that are interesting that are building blocks to what eventually became the greatest rivalry in sports. So, we go way back; we try to tell the story from the beginning; and we've stumbled across some things that I don't think people have seen.

N&O: Like what?

Roy: We've culled some archival stuff that had never been seen and got the [Larry] Brown-[Art] Heyman game [1961 brawl]; the 1966 7-5 game at the half where Dean employed the slowdown, ended up losing to Duke 21-20 in his futile efforts to beat Vic Bubas, who was kicking his rear end pretty regularly at that point; the 1969 ACC [Tournament final] game where Charlie Scott just went off on Duke ... and sort of paved the way for integration in the ACC; the eight-points-in-17-seconds game in 1974, which we found and no one's really seen that.

N&O: Was there anything else you could do to freshen the tale?

Roy: Yeah, there are aspects of the film that off the court ... the cultural differences between the schools, one being a public university and one being a private university. In my case, I thought going into the set of interviews with the Duke guys, I just assumed that that was going to be a difficult subject for them to talk about. You know, they are a lightning rod, for better or for worse, either loved or hated, and what I found almost to a man is that they embrace that image, from Krzyzewski on. He realizes that he lives and operates and plays, really, behind enemy lines. There's an aspect of his Army mentality that never left him, and it's transferred to his teams somewhat. They know that they're not well loved in many circles.

HBO also will air the piece Thursday at 1 p.m., Friday at 12:30 a.m., Saturday at 10:30 a.m., March 3 at 10:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., March 8 at 8:15 a.m., March 11 at 6:30 p.m., March 12 at 1:35 a.m., March 16 at 5:30 a.m. and March 19 at 4:30 p.m.

The program also will be shown on HBO2 and HBO On Demand. No word yet on the DVD release. 

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