Producer Israel DeHerrera, who also served as the lead producer for the critically acclaimed, three-part Arnie film in 2014, led the ambitious team behind "Jack", debuting Sunday night after Live From The Masters.
DeHerrera's Golf Films has worked on numerous projects, including ’86, a chronicle of Nicklaus’ final major championship win at the 1986 Masters.
DeHerrera helps give us some insight into the three-part film that concludes with Monday and Tuesday night airings on Golf Channel.
GS: Give us the timing of how long this documentary has taken from beginning to end?
ID: We first approached Jack at the Memorial Tournament in 2015 about a four part series. The first installment being 86, which premiered on Golf Channel in April 2016, followed by the current three part series.
Golf Films began production right away on 86, and during that process collected content for the larger Jack series. Intense pre-production for the three-part series began in April 2016, and post production began in December 2016.
GS: What are some of your favorite finds and pieces of footage we’ll see?
ID: There’s some cool footage of Jack attending Jackie and Steve’s high school football game in the early 80’s. He demanded an early tee-time at the World Series at Firestone on Friday so he could fly home for the big game. We found the footage of him at that actual game from an NBC News affiliate. Additionally, we have a lot of home movies and there is some compelling footage of him and his sister as kids with their mom and dad. Great stuff of Jack playing baseball, football and basketball, and footage of him in his dad’s old drug store on the Ohio State campus. But by far, my favorite piece of video was of Jack in Butler Cabin being interviewed during the CBS broadcast by Clifford Roberts after his win in 1972. Roberts says to Jack, “and in connection with that new wine cellar you are building, I am going to send you an entire case of Château Lafite, 1952.” And Jack’s response, (laughing), “Hello! Look out!“
GS: You tracked down someone who attended every major won by Jack, what was that process like and what was the thinking behind that for the film?
ID: We wanted to make sure we were bringing as much authenticity to the film and taking viewers back in time to feel like they were there for all of these greats moments in Jack’s career. We tried to do that by tracking down an individual who was in attendance at each of his 18 major victories. We also tracked down memorabilia and artifacts from those major victories to help bring these stories to life.
GS: There have been rumblings you’ve gone to other GOAT’s to discuss Jack? Who did you get and how did that work out?
Who better to weigh in on the debate of the greatest athlete of all-time than individuals who can actually relate to that stature? From the burden of holding that title and from getting inside the mind of what makes someone stand above the rest, we were fortunate enough to have an elite collection of GOATs weigh in on Jack and his legacy in golf and sports overall, including Roger Federer, Wayne Gretzky, Jerry Rice, Pete Rose, Bill Belichick, Kelly Slater, Richard Petty, and Annika Sorenstam.
GS: Jack Nicklaus told the story of the gift you got him as a thank you, give us an idea how you tracked down the artifacts?
ID: This was a big commitment of Mr. Nicklaus’ time, and I just wanted him to know how much I appreciated him letting Golf Films tell his story. What do you get the man who has everything? Jack and I got to talking about baseball one day and I asked him if he was an Indians or Reds fan. He said Indians, and in fact the first game he had ever attended was a Yankees-Indians game with his dad at Yankee Stadium in 1948.
In that game Bob Feller and Satchell Paige had pitched, and Joe DiMaggio hit a grand slam. I had actually produced a documentary before on Bob Feller and knew that 1948 team very well (World Series champs).
I started doing some research and was able to find the box-score from the game online (of course Jack remembered it all perfectly). I contacted Jimmy Roberts who has a friend, Jeff Idelson, who works for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Jeff put me in touch with someone who collects ticket stubs from every meaningful baseball game that has ever been played. And sure enough he had a stub from that game (he refused payment and said, “Knowing this is going to Jack Nicklaus is payment enough”). I then was able to find a program from that weekend’s game online after weeks of digging. I ordered up original copies of the New York Times from the day before the game and the day after and placed everything in a shadow box with pictures of Jack and his dad plus a picture from that ball game.
A sampling from the film: