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While fans were watching early episodes of “The Last Dance,” the director was still working out what the final episodes were going to look like.
When ESPN moved the 10-episode documentary up six weeks from its original air date to fill the void in the sports schedule due to the COVID-19 crisis, director Jason Hehir had not yet finished the project. And he was still planning on conducting interviews before the company shut down travel two days ahead of the NBA suspending its season.
Hehir went on ESPN after the final two episodes aired Sunday night to share just how close to the deadline the crew got. It made it with three days to spare.
‘Last Dance’ Episode 10 finished days before airing
Hehir said the final episode was finished on Thursday, three days before it aired Sunday night. Via CBS Sports:
“We had been sitting in a dark edit room for over two years with this material, and seeing especially the earlier episodes — I think before the quarantine we had four done in totality. So we had seen those over and over and over again. No jokes were funny to us, no moments were new to us, no songs were fresh to us. This one was a little bit different, these two tonight, because we just finished these episodes in the last eight weeks, and indeed Episode 10 we just finished on Thursday.”
The producers and editors were able to work from home to get the final seven episodes complete after ESPN moved up the air date.
Only 3 episodes completed before shifted start date
Hehir was scheduled to visit Spokane, Washington, on March 10 to interview former Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton for the final episode. ESPN called off the trip, then the NBA shut down and broadcasters started finding content to fill their airwaves.
At that point, per Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times, there were three episodes completed with others in post-production. Episode 9 was finished May 1.
ESPN initially slated the documentary to begin June 2 — around the NBA Finals. It moved it up six weeks to April 19 and aired two episodes every Sunday. It became appointment viewing with no live sports to watch.
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