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"30 for 30" film on Bills is a crowd-pleasing experience; More ESPN2 dates set

This is what I’m thinking:

As I watched the “30 for 30” film on the glory days of the Buffalo Bills at the North Park Theater Wednesday night, I realized previewing it alone on my computer a few days before caused me to miss something that was evident watching it with 700 people on a big screen.

I didn’t expect to hear all the laughter from the crowd at the North Park screening reacting to the statements of several Bills in “Four Falls of Buffalo.”

In other words, it was much funnier in the shared experience of watching the film with a crowd than it was watching it alone.

The laughter at statements made by Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Steve Tasker, Andre Reed and other Bills  who made it to the four Super Bowl losses in the 1990s balanced the tears that were inevitable during all the emotional moments of the film, highlighted by the interviews with Scott Norwood about his 47-yard wide right kick in the Bills’ 20-19 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV.

I wasn’t the only North Park viewer to notice how much funnier the film was when it was watched with an audience.

Michelle Giradi Zumwalt, the former NFL Films producer from Buffalo who did many of the interviews in the film, said the same thing at a post-screening party.

By the way, Ken Rodgers, the director of the film, called Zumwalt, who now works for the Pegula Sports and Entertainment Network, his “secret weapon” in getting Norwood and other Bills to open up in interviews.

The film, which got a standing ovation at the North Park when it ended, has its national premiere at 9:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.

But if you’re out on date night, there will be several other airings on ESPN2 during the month. Here’s a list:

Sunday 12/13 at 1 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Monday 12/14 at 2:30 a.m.

Tuesday 12/15 at 11 p.m.

Friday 12/18 at 12:30 a.m.

Sunday 12/20 at 7 a.m.

William Fichtner, the very busy actor from Cheektowaga who narrated the film, was able to clear up another mystery at the screening and post-game party.

How often is his character going to appear in the popular Fox series “Empire?” He finally made his second appearance in the finale on Dec. 2 as a music industry big shot who Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) decided against signing to a contract decades earlier because Fichtner’s character is gay. When introduced, Fichtner’s character was hoping to help and guide the music career of Lucious’ gay son Jamal (Jussie Smollett).

When the series returns in March of 2016, Fichtner told me that he actually is in a story arc that lasts four or five episodes.

NBC News correspondent Luke Russert, who has a prominent on-air role in “Four Falls” reflecting on the feelings of his late father Tim about the Bills, also gets a co-producer credit on the film. Luke was at Wednesday's premiere and led a question and answer session after the film ended with Kelly, Thumas, Tasker, Reed and Rodgers.

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