Courtesy of Barter TheatreDoug Wilson worked at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va., before going on to earn 17 Emmys as producer of ABC's 'Wide World of Sports.' Wilson will return to Barter on April 3 to share stories about and video footage from the show.
For nearly half a century, Barter Theatre alum Doug Wilson “spanned the globe” to bring the human drama of athletic competition to television viewers everywhere as part of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”
At 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 3, Wilson will return to Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va., where he began his career as a summer stock actor.
“Audiences can expect to hear a master storyteller describe his interviews, backed by real TV footage, from those in the sports and entertainment world,” said Lori Hester, Barter’s director of patron services. “This is a special event for Barter, and we are very excited to welcome Doug Wilson back to Barter’s stage to share these incredible stories.”
A graduate of Colgate University, Wilson got his first job in television as an NBC page. In 1958, he joined ABC as a production assistant and decided to stay for a while.
As producer for ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,”
Wilson’s unique odyssey took him across five continents to events of all proportions — from Olympic arenas to backroom pool halls, from the Grand Prix of Monaco to figure skating in Beijing, from wrist-wrestling in Petaluma to gymnastics in Bulgaria and Brazil. “I’ve always approached sports not from the jock, locker room, fan point of view, but from the theatrical point of view,” Wilson said. “I thought of sports as theatre, and what a perfect place, the legendary Barter Theatre, to tell these stories about the human drama in athletic competition. After all, what takes place on stage is just like what takes place in an arena: performing in front of a live audience. The only difference — on stage, the actors are working off a script and on a field, the script has not yet been written.”
This philosophy won him 17 Emmys over the course of his career, covering “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
Wilson participated in the production of 10 Olympic Games, beginning in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1964. At the Calgary Games in 1988, he was responsible for providing the world with its coverage of the figure skating competition, as well as the closing ceremony. Again, in 1996, Canadian Television invited him to direct the television coverage of the World Figure Skating Championships from Edmonton, Alberta. He has become recognized world wide as the premier director of the sport of figure skating.
Wilson focused the cameras and conducted the interviews that helped skaters Scott Hamilton and Peggy Fleming become household names. Because of his contributions to the world of figure skating, in 2003, Wilson became the only nonskater inducted into the National Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Earlier, in 1995, the United States Figure Skating Association presented him its “Spirit of Giving” award.
Wilson also interviewed cultural icons like Muhammad Ali, Evel Knievel, Grace Kelly, Frank Gifford, Nadia Comaneci, Brian Boitano and many, many more.
Although he has worked with countless celebrated individuals, Wilson is an icon in his own right. He has collected several awards and recognitions, on top of his 17 Emmys. Wilson was honored by the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation with its Distinguished Service Award for his production of the International Special Olympics, and in 1994, he was honored by the Directors Guild of America with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wilson has lectured at Colgate University, Ithaca College, The University of Southern California, The Naval War College in Newport, R.I., the American University in Washington, D.C., and for IBM, where he taught “The Creative Process.”
He currently resides in Irvington, N.Y., with his wife, Betsy.
Tickets for “An Evening with Doug Wilson” are $18 for adults and $12 for youth ages 5-17. Call Barter’s box office at (276) 628-3991 or visit www.bartertheatre.com ? for tickets or more information.