LeBron James wanted ESPN to release #TheLastDance when COVID-19 stranded us at home but it wasn't done. John Stockton was interviewed the day before the season was suspended and only three episodes were done. Episode 9 was just locked in today. My column: https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2020-05-01/the-last-dance-production-michael-jordan-espn-documentary-markazi
Markazi: 'The Last Dance' was an unfinished symphony until just recently
When producers of "The Last Dance" announced a new date for the series to debut, they had finished only three of the 10 episodes. The final episode still is not complete.https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2020-05-01/the-last-dance-production-michael-jordan-espn-documentary-markazi
The original plan for #TheLastDance was to debut Tuesday, June 2, two days before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, with two episodes airing between games. It was basically going to fill the off-day gaps and wrap after Game 4. Instead, it has turned into a five-week cultural phenomenon.
No episodes of #TheLastDance were done as of January 1, 2020. Only three were completed as of March 16, when New York issued stay at home orders. The docuseries has been completed from five remote apartment buildings with editors doing Zoom meetings and uploading clips on Vimeo.
Two employees at the multi-million dollar editing facility in Tribeca #TheLastDance was being put together at tested positive for COVID-19 the day the NBA was suspended. They've been working remotely since then. Getting it done by June 2 was going to be tough, let alone April 19.
The last interview for the doc took place March 10 in Spokane, Washington with John Stockton. Jason Hehir, who did all the interviews (including Jordan), was told he could not go because of the pending pandemic. He had to send his questions to a local producer to do it for him.
How did they settle on April 19 to debut #TheLastDance ? @JasonHehir said he could finish the 10th and last episode by mid-May and they worked back from that date. They considered doing one episode each Sunday before settling on two each Sunday for 5 weeks. Episode 9 just wrapped.
Episode 5 is dedicated to Kobe Bryant. His interview was filmed at his office in Costa Mesa last July and they edited it a week before his passing. They went back and looked at it after but it was perfect; nothing needed to be changed. The only edit was the dedication at the top.
On Sunday #TheLastDance Episodes 5 and 6 averaged 5.5 million viewers across ESPN & ESPN2 from 9-11 p.m. ET, with episode 5 averaging 5.8 million viewers and episode 6 averaging 5.2 million viewers. The Last Dance has averaged 5.8 million viewers through its first six episodes.
With Sunday's episodes featuring the Lakers, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Madison Square Garden, the New York (+11%) and Los Angeles (+12%) markets were both up double digits compared to episodes 1 through 4.