Tyler Hansbrough, Chapel Hill together in TV commercial
Sep 23, 2009
BY BETH VELLIQUETTE
CHAPEL HILL--On Wednesday, word hit the Internet and soon everyone was talking about it - Tyler Hansbrough found a little girl's lost dog.
Well, in real life he didn't, but in a new AT&T 3G Network television commercial, he did. He found a cute little white dog and returned it to its happy owner in a sweet reunion at a house on Franklin Street. It's a commercial so cute that a few people even said they cried a tear or two when they watched it.
It's just 31 seconds long, and Hansbrough, who led the North Carolina Tar Heels to a national basketball title this year, is in the commercial for maybe six seconds - with four of those seconds being filmed at Chapel Hill's famous Time Out Restaurant at University Square.
A scout had been to the restaurant, and Eddie Williams, who owns Time Out, knew it was a possibility that the commercial might be filmed there, but he wasn't expecting it to be a big deal. About six months ago, the television show "Man vs. Food," had filmed a segment at the restaurant with a crew of about eight people.
So Williams figured that's how many would show up to film the commercial with Hansbrough.
On Aug. 21, a film crew of about 40 people, including actors, camera and sound people, engineers, all led by - well this seems hard to believe - Oscar-nominated director Bennet Miller, who directed the film, "Capote," invaded Time Out to film the commercial.
"They told me three or four times," Williams said. "This guy is big! Bennet Miller!"
In fact, some people from the university who knew he'd be there brought DVDs of "Capote" for Miller to sign, said Williams said.
"They filmed for probably four hours, and they got about three seconds worth of stuff," Time Out's director of operations Kyle Westerman.
Actually it was four seconds, but who's counting?
"They had boom mikes in here. They removed two windows. They had the camera outside," Westerman said pointing at the side windows.
The commercial begins with a little girl posting a sign and photo of her lost dog. A student sees the sign, takes a picture and sends the photo to Hansbrough, who is sitting in Time Out with a couple of friends.
Hansbrough receives the message, then sends it out to all his friends, and as it turns out, one of them happens to be petting the dog on campus when she gets the message. She in turn sends a message to Hansbrough, who is still at Time Out, that she found the dog.
The last scene shows Hansbrough sitting on the front steps of a house with the dog. The little girls walks up and sees her little dog, who then runs from Hansbrough into her arms. Last scene is of Hansbrough smiling.
The commercial doesn't identify Hansbrough, nor does Hansbrough speak during the commercial, but most folks in North Carolina recognize immediately the big guy in Carolina blue.
"The AT&T people said, 'He's the face of North Carolina,'" Williams said. "He's everything good."
The idea for the commercial apparently came from Susan Credle Fowler, who grew up in Chapel Hill and went to UNC. She works in advertising in New York and wrote the script for the commercial with Hansbrough and Time Out in mind, Williams said.
Williams likes the commercial but couldn't help but be a little disappointed when he saw it. The crew assured him that the restaurant would be predominately featured in the commercial, but after all the editing was done, the red neon Time Out sign that was in the background behind Hansbrough's head had been edited out.
The words, Time Out, are nowhere to be found in the commercial.
"Anyway, it was still fun," Williams said.
The crew also filmed on Franklin Street and various places on campus.
To thank Williams, the crew took a photograph of Hansbrough making the time out "T" with his hands, and that photograph now hangs in the restaurant along with the photos of other famous UNC stars, including Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Dean Smith, as well as Michigan's Chris Weber, also making the time out gesture.
"Of course we're very happy," Westerman said.
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