WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Frank Lenti Jr.

2013-02-18T19:15:00Z 2013-02-18T21:12:21Z WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Frank Lenti Jr.By Mike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
February 18, 2013 7:15 pm  • 

Frank Lenti Jr. didn't have the opportunity to walk down the red carpet in Kansas City and receive his award.

In fact, he didn't know he had won.

Lenti won an Emmy Award in September under the category,  "Sports: One-Time Special" for his show highlighting the Fighting Illini at Camp Rantoul from 2011. Lenti did not attend the ceremony because Illinois was playing a home football game that day against Louisiana Tech. He is a creative production specialist for the University of Illinois' Illini Productions, so he was working the football game.

"Someone emailed me wit the line 'And the winner is ...' and I saw I won," Lenti said. "It was a great feeling and when the trophy showed up, it really hit me when I actually held it and saw it with the wings and everything."

The 2003 Mount Carmel grad said the program was a 22-minute documentary taken from five webisodes chronicling the on- and off-the-field exploits of the Illini football team in preparation for the 2011 season.

Lenti called upon his experiences as an Illini football player to help with the program, which he modeled after The Big Ten Network's "The Journey." He also wanted to take a fan's approach.

"I looked at it from the outside in and asked 'What would a fan want to see?' and followed that," Lenti said. "I wanted to show us lifting weights because we did so outside in tents, the payers eating, the camaraderie.

"This is where teams are made is in the summer camp. I wanted the fans to get that perspective."

Lenti said he also asked for input from "The Journey" producer Bill Friedman.

"He was a big help in terms of giving me some guidance as to how to put it together," Lenti said. "We (the staff) did one the year before so this was really our second year."

Lenti got his start as an intern when he was on the Illinois football team. He said he loved watching NFL Films, produced by the late Steve Sabol. He also helped his uncle David Lenti, who is Mount Carmel's defensive coordinator, put together the end-of-season highlight tapes.

"They key was the human element — show fans what they don't normally see," Lenti said. "We also showed the football side and it was a lot of fun to put together."

Lenti's boss Andrew Young, who is Illini Productions director of video services, said that was what made the production stand out.

"Frank has a knack for that and the fact he played here, he knew what he needed to do," Young said. "He did show the side that fans want to see. They are taken inside of camp and Frank did a nice job of having the eye and vision to do that.

"We all look at it with pride and Frank will tell you it was a team effort."

When the University of Illinois men's basketball team upset No. 1 Indiana recently, he had a center-court seat halfway up the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall.

"Man, it was great," Lenti said. "I saw the whole thing unfold and this place was going wild."

Lenti is a creative production specialist for the University of Illinois' Illini Productions, so he was working the game.

"I was working the matrix board in the second half, and I just put up 'Illinois wins' on the board," Lenti said. "It took a few minutes for it (the upset) to sink in.

"After the game, when I was walking out of the arena, it sunk in."

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