STORY Director John Komnenich Directs Award-Winning TV Series “A Piece of the Game”


New half hour series highlights the emotionally charged and phenomenally lucrative world of sports memorabilia.

Last Updated: February 19, 2014 8:50 pm GMT
(February 19, 2014) America’s insatiable appetite for sports and sports memorabilia is the subject of a new, fast-paced, half-hour reality television series from producer Don DuPree, director John Komnenich and creative director Mike Waterkotte. Sponsored by Allstate, "A Piece of the Game" tells the stories of some of the greatest moments in the history of sports—and the collectables that capture the memories. The show recently debuted on Chicago station WGN and earned a local Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement for Sports Programs. The producers are planning a national rollout later this year.

“The show combines elements of Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars with a sports twist,” explains Komnenich, a well-known commercial director, represented nationally by STORY. He points out that sports memorabilia has become a billion dollar industry. A jersey worn by Babe Ruth recently sold for $4.4 million.

Each episode of A Piece of the Game features real-life sports memorabilia collectors and their most prized treasures. Background segments delve into the legends behind the collectables which are then evaluated by a panel of experts. The show’s pilot episode, taped at Chicago’s legendary Harry Caray’s Steakhouse, features an oversized baseball bat gifted by Babe Ruth to a bar owner, a hockey stick that belonged to Bobby Hull, and a uniform from the film A League of Their Own. In a subsequent episode, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. tries out his swing with a bat once used by Lou Gehrig—the Yankees star whose “iron man” streak he broke. The show is hosted by well-known Chicago sports broadcaster David Kaplan. Bill Kurtis provides voice-over for historical segments.

A Piece of the Game marks Komnenich’s debut as a television director. His work in advertising includes commercials for Disney, Kellogg's, Chevrolet, Budweiser, McDonald's, Kraft, Max Factor, Sears and AllState. DuPree’s background includes executive producer and director of Siskel & Ebert. He also served as assistant news director at Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM.

“From my standpoint, as a director, it’s an opportunity to tell interesting stories,” Komnenich notes, adding that the subject’s personality is often revealed when deciding whether or not to sell an item. “It often comes down to, what’s worth more, the object or the memory?” he says. “There are some people who won’t sell, regardless of the price. They’d rather keep their prized momento and pass it onto a son or daughter.”

Based on the phenomenal success of other reality series focused on collectibles, Komnenich believes that A Piece of the Game will catch on with a national audience, concluding, “We think the show has legs.”

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