Nike’s dance party

By Mark Baker | Living Here, Sports | |

It was Jan. 2, the day after the Oregon Ducks had crushed Florida State in the Rose Bowl, and Ohio State had upset mighty Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, in the semifinals of the first-ever College Football Playoff.

It was 4 a.m. in a New Orleans hotel and the phone in Neil Everett’s room was ringing — his wake-up call. He had to catch a 6 a.m. flight to Los Angeles “because I was not going to miss this,” says the 1984 University of Oregon graduate and longtime ESPN sports anchor.

Everett, who had been part of ESPN’s Sugar Bowl coverage in New Orleans, was talking about his participation in a new Nike video starring famous former UO athletes.

The video has gone viral since Nike, the Beaverton-based sports apparel giant co-founded by UO alum and Duck mega-booster Phil Knight, posted it online Saturday in conjunction with the UO team’s football game at Michigan State that day.

The “Shout” video is a remake of the iconic toga party scene in “Animal House,” the 1978 classic comedy filmed mostly on the UO campus.

The Nike remake version gets its Autzen Stadium debut on Saturday, when the Ducks host Georgia State University in a game that kicks off at 11 a.m.

But what you might not know is that a condensed version of the new “Shout” video originally was destined for something much greater: a one-minute national TV ad that Nike hoped to air immediately after the national championship game against Ohio State on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.

But that was only if Oregon, favored by 6 points, had won. Instead, the Ducks were humbled by Ohio State, 42-20.

Tinker Hatfield, Nike’s vice president for design and special projects — and among those who appear in the new video — confirmed as much in an email: “As I understand it, there was a plan to play the video after the (national championship) game, ‘if’ the Ducks had won.”

Instead, that postgame spot went to an ad featuring Ohio State.

The 5-minute, 23-second video, created by Portland ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, was shot on Jan. 2 at a Hollywood studio in two different sessions — one in the morning and one in the afternoon, according to the agency’s Jeff Selis, a 1988 UO graduate who produced the video.

The video’s debut on Autzen Stadium’s giant screen on Saturday will come at the end of the third quarter. The original scene in the movie has played in that slot for years, as fans get a chance to stretch and have fun dancing, getting low to the ground, then jumping back up again and singing along to the song’s playful lyrics …

You know you make me wanna (Shout!)

(Shout) a little bit softer now …

(Shout) a little bit louder now …

Everett said he won’t forget the afternoon video production session on Jan. 2 that included former UO football stars Dan Fouts, Dennis Dixon, LaMike James, Kenjon Barner and Brandon Bair.

“The music was blaring, man,” Everett said. “We did about nine takes. They just kept playing it over and over.”

DeWayne Jessie, the actor and singer better known as “Otis Day,” the role he played in the film and the persona that has become his life ever since, was not there that afternoon, having taped his session in the morning with the likes of former UO football greats Joey Harrington and Ahmad Rashad. Also on the morning roster: “Modern Family” actor Ty Burrell, a Grants Pass native and major Duck fan.

It was a thrill all over again, said Jessie, who these days lives in Las Vegas.

“I was asked to do it, and I was glad to,” said Jessie, speaking from New York City where he had several engagements this week in his Otis Day role.

Although Jessie sings when he travels with his “Otis Day & the Knights” band, he actually lip-synched to the voice of singer Lloyd Williams’ version of “Shout,” a 1959 song by the Isley Brothers. He did the same for the remake.

The first thing you see in the video, which has been viewed almost 2 million times on YouTube alone in the past six days, is recent UO quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, now a rookie with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

Mariota plays the role of the film’s star, the late John Belushi, whose character was John “Bluto” Blutarsky, ringleader of the always-on-the-edge-of-probation Delta House frat.

It was an ironic contrast for the mild-mannered and soft-spoken Mariota, whose part was added in last month at the request of Nike and shot at a different Hollywood studio, Selis said.

Mariota could not be taped in January, when he was still a collegiate athlete, as that most likely would have been a NCAA violation.

Just like his nearly flawless performance last weekend in his Titans’ debut, Mariota pulls his part off, smashing the guitar of the sappy singer — “I gaaaave my love a cherry…” — played by ’70s pop singer Stephen Bishop in the 1978 film. In the Nike remake, the singer role falls to, who else, the Duck mascot himself.

During a post-practice press conference in Nashville, Tenn., (home of the Titans) earlier this week, a reporter asked Mariota if he was worried about wood splinters causing an eye injury as he smashed one guitar after another during several takes.

“Oh, no, not at all,” Mariota said. “I actually had a lot of fun. We had like 20 guitars I got to smash, so that was a blast.”

(Selis laughed when told of that comment, saying it was more like six guitars.)

So, there you have it. A skillfully made remake of a classic film scene — shot in 1977 in the basement of the UO’s Sigma Nu house on East 11th Avenue — involved a bit of trickery.

“Through the magic of video, they were able to meld (all of it) into one shot,” Everett said. “I just felt honored to be a part of it.”