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McCann gets own 'Spotlight'

It was a little more than two years ago when SportSouth aired an hour-long retrospective on the life and career of former Parkview legend and current Atlanta Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur.

Beginning Saturday, another former Gwinnett County high school star and current Braves player will get the same treatment when "Spotlight: Brian McCann" debuts on the regional cable sports network.

The program is the latest in a series of profiles of athletes and sports figures from around the Southeast produced for SportSouth and its parent network FSS.

However, most of those programs were only 30 minutes in length. The one on the former Duluth High star and three-time National League All-Star debuting Saturday is only the third of these programs that run a full hour in length, following the one on Francoeur that debuted in 2007 and a later one on Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson.

"It takes a lot of time and effort to do one of these full-blown, one-hour documentaries because you're doing multiple interviews and a lot of research and production," said Keith Wetzler, who produced the McCann special for SportSouth. "We started preproduction work on this one in December - setting things up with McCann's agent and his parents. We began the interviews in January. So, it was about a six-month project. The one on Francoeur was also about a five- to six-month project."

The McCann documentary will be similar to the one on Francoeur in many respects. It will follow the longtime Gwinnett resident from his birth to his current career with the Braves through old photos and never-before-seen home videos from the McCann family, as well as highlights from his minor- and major-league career.

It will also include interviews with his parents - Howie and Sherry - as well as Braves manager Bobby Cox and teammates Francoeur - a longtime friend - and Chipper Jones.

"The more I got involved, I was amazed with how similar their stories were, down to the fact they both married their high school sweethearts," Wetzler said of McCann and Francoeur. "They met when they were 12 years old, and their careers have mirrored each other."

However, Wetzler also points out there will be some distinct differences between this program and the Francoeur documentary.

"One of the things with Francoeur was that he was such a big high school story, and we had access to video from (Parkview's 2002) state championship series," Wetzler said. "With McCann, it's more (focused on) the back end of his story - about how he came through the minor leagues and got called up from Double A to the majors. ... People will see some stuff they never knew about him."

McCann's father Howie - who runs the Windward Baseball Academy in Alpharetta - said his son and the whole family is eagerly awaiting Saturday's debut.

"We've not seen it yet," Howie McCann said. "We're really anxious to see it. I think (Wetzler and his crew) will do a good job with it.

"All we've seen is a little snippet. When they showed (a clip during the broadcast of the Braves' game with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday), I was pumped."

And with good reason. The clip shown was one Howie McCann believes to be an early turning point in his son's career - a home run off Roger Clemens during the Braves' National League Division Series against the Houston Astros in 2005.

"That changed his life," Howie McCann said. "I think it showed Bobby Cox he was ready (to stay in the majors)."

SideBar: McCann Biography

What: "Spotlight: Brian McCann" TV special

Where: SportSouth

When: Program debuts Saturday at 10 p.m. Also will be re-aired June 17 at 9 a.m., June 19 at 12 noon, June 21 at 8 p.m. and June 22 at 1 p.m.

Noteworthy: The 60-minute biography follows the former Duluth High School and now Atlanta Braves All-Star catcher from his birth through the current day with family photos, never-before-seen home videos and interviews with him and his parents, Howie and Sherry. The program also includes interviews with Braves manager Bobby Cox and teammates Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur.