James Chairman or Jimmy Chairman is currently the New York Bureau Producer for E! News. He's also the creator of Sports Nutz, which Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz found controversial.
The Sports Nutz videos were deemed grounds for dismissal of Comcast Sports Net reporter Susannah Collins. Today, you'll find a few videos that have been watched 60-90,000 times.The YouTube Channel, featuring 18 videos in total, has now been viewed close to half a million times! So let's meet the visionary behind the video series.
And discuss the past, present and potential future of Sports Nutz.
So how did Sports Nutz all come together?
My writing partner Kris “Frenchman” Collins and I were looking to do an Internet sports comedy project for a while. Unlike our previous effort, the high concept webisodic Apt 34, we wanted to strip down the process and make it about the jokes. Our production partner Frank Siringo made the point early in pre-production that no one would want to see me and French on camera. Thus, the genesis of Sports Nutz- our silly jokes as told by beautiful women.
It seemed like a no-brainer.
Early in 2009, shortly after we wrapped Apt 34, French, Frank and Iwent forward with casting Sports Nutz. In April 2009, we auditioned Susannah Collins who applied through Backstage or Craigslist (this fact is disputed by Collins, in the April interview I did with her ("a friend of a friend was starting a new web series called Sports Nutz") and we met Sam Raddock through our friend Dave Rose. With the ladies in place, we decided to have a go at it.
Tell us about your experience doing it, what were some of your favorite videos/moments in the series?
I had a blast making the show until the last three episodes. I loved the camaraderie of production and the act of producing “art” on our own terms and putting it out there for the world to see. It didn’t matter to me how many people saw it, or that we weren’t getting paid. It was a pure process.
The modest success of “SN 13- Douchebag Nation” killed the simple, organic vibe and process. There was mainstream media interest in the show at that point. The pressure of maintaining quality while the rigors of my day job increased made production of those last three episodes the bane of my existence for a minute.
Your ChicagoNow colleague Mayor Daily lists SN 11-14 as the “Best of Sports Nutz” and it’s hard to argue with that. However, I think we started hitting our stride in “SN 3- Drugs In Sports” which I consider to be a pretty complete effort joke-wise. There are some jokes I’m really proud of in SN 5 and 6 too and the dramatic reading of “Chocolate Thunder” in SN 7 still makes me laugh.
I also love the Season 2 opener, “SN 8- BCS Preview” in the Linc lot. As a Birds fan, it was fun to be with my brethren. Also, I think we have a nice mix of jokes and the “gotcha journalism” MOS stuff that we were doing at the end.
Ironically, even though we’ve had over 400,000 views in the last week, no one is watching the ones I like the most. The one that folks are watching the most is “SN 9- The NFL Playoffs” which is probably the worst one we did. The Gilbert Arenas/Javaris Crittenton bit didn’t age well (though Susannah hitting on Nick the sound guy aged amazingly). Oh well.
Tell us about your career background and also what you’re doing today?
After I got my Masters in 2002, I embarked on a career as an independent filmmaker. My independent film-making career primarily entailed hustling and racking up credit card debt. I struggled as an “artist” in the big city until I got hired as a videographer for WireImage video in March 2006.
At some point early on, my boss realized I was much better at talking to people than I was at shooting video. He promoted me to producer, which consisted mostly of interviewing celebs on red carpets. I’ve been interviewing celebs for the last seven years, first with WireImage/Getty, then the Associated Press and Esquire Magazine before landing at E!
I’m currently the NY Bureau Producer for E! News. I’ve conducted roughly 3,500 interviews since 2006. Name the entertainment industry luminary or celebrity and odds are I’ve interviewed them.
First and foremost, I felt bad for Susannah. Her role on Sports Nutz was that of a performer-doing jokes written by others. Susannah has a Masters in musical theater. To me, the idea of firing her because of the Nutz was akin to firing her because a performance she did of Book of Mormon showed up online. She was doing comedy, and she never hid it for a second. If what the Tribune reported is true, it’s ludicrous.
As time passed, and I saw Susannah become a Chicago folk hero, I didn’t feel quite as bad. She’ll end up on top because of this. I have no doubt.
Now with all the publicity for Sports Nutz, do you think it’ll come back? Do you want to do it again?
The last few episodes and the way we went out left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Frank wants to get it going again though.
I have a nine-month-old daughter now, and far more responsibility at work than I had in 2009 and 2010. It would be tough for me to find the kind of time and energy that I was putting into the show during the run. That said, I’d never close the door completely, but this time around, daddy needs to get paid.
Exclusive with Sports Nutz co-host Sam Raddock
Exclusive with Sports Nutz co-host Susannah Collins
Exclusive with Sports Nutz creator Jimmy Chairman
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