Sportscaster Garfien directs 4-part Bears doc series

Bears doc writer/director/ editor Chuck Garfien

Chuck Garfein, Comcast SportsNet Chicago anchor, is fulfilling a youthful ambition in writing, directing and editing a 4-part hourlong series on the memorable games in Chicago Bears history.

With “Bears Classics,” sponsored by Honda, the regional sports network dramatically increases its historical documentary offerings.

Part one debuts Nov. 27 at 9:30 p.m.   It focuses on the Oct. 16, 2006 game in Phoenix in which the Bears roared back from a 20-0 deficit to defeat the Arizona Cardinals 24-23.

Part 2 will be the famed Dec. 31, 1988 divisional playoff “fog bowl” victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field in which the heavy mist from Lake Michigan obscured visibility for players, spectators and TV cameras.

Part 3 will air in January, but CSN Chicago will hold off the final entry for the start of another NFL season next September.

All the shows, produced by Willie Parker, will combine video and film highlights along with interviews with the players and coaches who participated in the games.


Directing satisfies Garfien’s film ambitions

Parker and CSN Chicago news director Kevin Cross came up with the Bears series as a perfect vehicle for Garfien’s off-air talent for writing/directing, combined with his yen to look back into time. 

A Flossmoor native, 9-year CSN Chicago veteran Garfien liked two professions coming out of high school: sportscasting and directing.

Attending USC, famous for its film school, Garfien wanted to go in that direction.  But working on-air during his summer vacations at home diverted him from that pursuit.

“They know my interests in Chicago sports history,” Garfien said, “and I’ve been looking for something to sink my teeth into. All this time (as a sportscaster), I was interested in film and this was an opportunity to me.

“In terms of doing interviews, writing the show, being in an edit bay for hours upon hours putting this together – that’s what I’ve been doing.

Considered 10 great games from the ‘60s on

He started crafting the series in August, working around his duties as White Sox pre- and post-game show host and other reporting chores. Garfien continued working on Parts 2, 3 and 4 while also reporting baseball’s winter meetings Dec. 9.

Garfien and associates started with a list of 10 great Bears games from the 1960s on, before paring the series down to the final four. He said the two record-setters — Gale Sayers’ six-touchdown virtuoso in 1965 and Walter Payton’s 275-yard outburst in 1977 – were considered, but didn’t make the final cut.

Garfien and Parker were assisted by CSN Chicago shooters Mike Cappozzo, Jason Dolan, Brett Fisher, Eric Fogle, Jeff Korbitz, Brian Skonesey and Todd Williams.

Out-of-town interviews were shot by Mitch Tischler of CSN Mid-Atlantic, Chad Cushnir of WTLV in Jacksonville and Russ Owens of WCNC in Charlotte.

Cubs next doc will be a stunner

“Bears Classics” follows in the wake of “5 Outs,” the award-winning 90-minute documentary on the 2003 Cubs that first aired in October.

Meanwhile, other CSN Chicago personnel are working on the long-form successor to “5 Outs’” for 2014. “5 Outs” co-producer David Kaplan denied it would be an anniversary special on Michael Jordan’s 1984 drafting by the Bulls or his 1994 summer playing minor-league baseball.

In the same breath, Kaplan said viewers would be “stunned” by the new documentary’s subject matter.

George Castle is a Chicago-based sportswriter, author and sports historian.