Even the greatest auteur often does not land the most desired “get” for his production.
For Homewood-Flossmoor alum Chuck Garfien, the longtime Comcast SportsNet anchor who's now a film director and writer, the centerpiece guy who wiggled out of his grasp was Dennis Green.
When you’re putting together a documentary on the Bears’ amazing 24-23 comeback win — after trailing 20-0 at halftime — over the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 16, 2006, how could you not include the thoughts of the coach who provided the best post-game rant this side of Lee Elia?:
“The Bears are who we thought they were!"
Green howled in the desert louder than 20 coyotes, but dodged Garfien as he put together the first of four CSN Chicago hourlong documentaries titled “Bears Classics.”
“I spent a month and a half trying to get Dennis Green to talk,” Garfien said. “He turned me down twice. He was the one person I really wanted that I didn’t get.
“He said he’s not going to talk about that game ever again. He gets requests upon requests about this game so many times every year that he’s decided to put the whole thing to bed. His words were: 'Let a sleeping dog lie.’”
With only the original tape of the rant for playback, Garfien’s ability to interview, edit and write around Green’s absence will be sorely tested. That’s exactly what he desired as a kid growing up in Flossmoor — the challenges of directing film.
The first of his efforts on “Bears Classics,” subtitled “Night of the Ridiculous,” presents the game in which Green and Bears kick returner Devin Hester were stars in their own right. The program will debut at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on CSN Chicago.
Garfien’s love of sports played a large role during his youth in Flossmoor.
“If there was a Chicago on a team's jersey, I followed them,” he said. “Bears, Bulls, White Sox, Cubs, Blackhawks, Sting, Blitz.
“I also went to a lot of Homewood-Flossmoor High School basketball games. Someone's parent would drop a bunch of us off at the school. We'd stay for the JV and varsity game and run wild around the gym for hours unattended. After draining our pockets at the concession stand, we'd eventually start focusing on the game.”
As a sophomore at H-F, Garfien wrote, produced and directed a 55-minute radio documentary on Agent Orange and its effect on Vietnam veterans.
“The ironic part of this was one of the people I interviewed at 15 was Bill Kurtis, who broke the story about Agent Orange on TV in the 1970s,” he said. “Coincidentally, he’s voicing all four (‘Bears Classics’).”
Moving on from H-F to the University of Southern California, Garfien had dual ambitions: sportscasting and directing. But even with the famed USC film school at hand, he got diverted to on-air work. He’s been a CSN Chicago anchor for nine years, with his highest-profile most recent role that of host of Sox pre- and post-game shows.
Assisted by producer Willie Parker, Garfien is fulfilling his old ambition to work behind the camera. Working around his on-air roles, Garfien is encamping in the editing bays. He’s even choosing the music for “Bears Classics.”
Garfien and CSN executives also made some tough calls among the 10 games originally considered. Gale Sayers’ six-touchdown burst against the 49ers in 1965 and Walter Payton’s 275-yard one-man show against the Vikings in 1977 did not make the cut.