Local producer brings the big stars to the beach for Sun Fun

By Melissa Huff

Williard Scott at the beachIf you've lived here for the past three Sun Fun festivals - or if you're a television watcher - you've no doubt seen Willard Scott of the "Today" show, Spencer Christian of "Good Morning America" and "Crook and Chase" of The Nashville Network broadcast their shows from Myrtle Beach.

What you haven't seen is a local businessman who has been primarily responsible for bringing those stars to town: Rik Dickinson, president of Encore Video Productions Inc., a video production company headquartered in Myrtle Beach.

"Rik has contributed so much to the Sun Fun Festival. He has a lot of good ideas" to promote the area, said Doug Bell of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dickinson has served as the special projects chairman for several years, and he uses his network of contacts to bring stars to the festival. But he also provides the camera and production crews to bring it off.

Jim Owens, president of the Nashville company that puts on "Crook and Chase," along with other country music shows, said, "They're real professionals. They pulled it all together for us."

Owens and Dickinson are acquaintances from years back, and Owens said he trusted Encore's work so much that last year, he, for the first time, allowed the independent production company to tape the shows instead of using TNN crews. The show is broadcast three times a day on TNN and reaches between 12 million and 15 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.

Encore also tries to keep prices at cost. (The broadcast costs $35,000, even so, Dickinson said.)

This year, Dickinson's company arranged for a spot about the Sun Fun Festival to air on Music Television news on Saturday's show. And even though CBS and NBC could not commit to coming back a second year (the shows rotate festivals), both will mention the festival, and "Good Morning America" will use Encore footage of festival organizers shouting "good morning" from the beach as its introduction.

"When I called a good friend on 'Good Morning America,' I asked if we could get on," Dickinson said. "He said the next available spot was February 1991, so I said, 'OK, what do we have to do to get this on? '

Through negotiating and sending the footage themselves, Encore worked it out.

The "Crook and Chase" show producers also initially said the show would not be able to swing a broadcast this year because of a prior commitment for this past week at a country music festival. But Dickinson went to Owens and suggested the show come a week early and, rather than have to come up with special programs about the beach, he and Owens worked out bringing the scheduled guests here.

"It's really our responsibility to make it happen," he said, noting that Encore handles everything from getting the satellite uplink to the makeup artists to the lighting and dressing rooms, to predicting the weather and taking precautions should it rain.


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