While the Red Sox battled the Seattle Mariners in Game 2 of a misty doubleheader at Fenway Park on Wednesday, producers Kelly Boullet and Linda Pizzuti Henry celebrated the launch of their new NESN program, After the Game: Work Hard, Live Well, Give Back.
Joined by many, including Red Sox owners John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino along with NESN executives, Boullet and Pizzuti Henry shared their excitement about the upcoming series, which premieres Sept. 3.
After the Game: Work Hard, Live Well, Give Back will tie in three key aspects to create a unique and captivating show. Not only will fans get an insider look at the homes of their favorite New England athletes, but they also will learn about that athlete's favorite charitable organization. Plus fans will have the opportunity to become involved with the charities on NESN.com.
"We're so excited to spread the message of the show, about how important it is to give back," Boullet said during the party at Fenway. "And what we love about the show is that we drive people to become involved as well."
After watching an episode, fans will be encouraged to visit NESN.com to vote for their favorite charity promoted by the athletes featured during the program. After the series finale on Nov. 5, the charity with the most fan votes will receive $25,000 from the Hess Corporation.
"We're not trying to be preachy or dry, just informative," Boullet added. "If we could inspire a viewer to say, 'That's a good charity, I'd like to volunteer,' or 'I'd like to give back,' then we've accomplished our mission."
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner also feels very strongly about the charitable message the program will bring to NESN viewers.
"These athletes want to give back to the community, not just on the field but off the field," Werner said. "This is a way for them to show a side of themselves that people haven't seen. We're giving out $5,000 for each of the athlete's charities, so we're giving back and we're entertaining."
Team president and CEO Larry Lucchino added that the underlying theme of charity has always been important to the organization.
"It's been a principle since we arrived in 2001 that we recognize the community and we want our players to give back to that community," he said. "Many of our players have gigantic hearts and come by that very naturally."
As a close member of the Red Sox family, Pizzuti Henry recognized early on that the New England fan base is full of passion for the team, individual players and their contributions. She believes that foundation of enthusiasm for the athletes will capture fan interest for After the Game: Work Hard, Live Well, Give Back.
"I think New England fans are some of the best in the country," she said. "They really know their teams and their athletes, so I thought this concept would really appeal to them."
Also on hand for the event was one of the featured athletes in the series, U.S. women's soccer star and Boston Breakers midfielder/forward Kristine Lilly. Getting involved with After the Game: Work Hard, Live Well, Give Back was a first for Lilly, as she had never let the media inside her house before for such an in-depth interview session. However, she was happy to participate for her chosen charity, Children's Hospital Boston.
"I think tying in the charitable aspect is really important," Lilly said. "As athletes, we've been given this great opportunity, and now we're able to give others great opportunities in return."
That they have, and with the premiere of the show just days away, fans will be able to appreciate the efforts of their favorite New England athletes, shown in a light they've never seen before.
"I think the core precedent here is that we're trying to show these athletes in a different way," NESN president Sean McGrail said. "How they actually live off the field and many of the charitable endeavors they're engaged in. Virtually all of them have some charitable component in their lives. So I think we're trying to bring some exposure to that format and make people aware of what they're doing."
After the Game: Work Hard, Live Well, Give Back premieres on Friday, Sept. 3, at 5:30 p.m. on NESN.