The common denominator among successful cameramen is that they anticipate well and listen to the commentators; handheld specialists, such as Leible, also must be fast afoot and have an especially acute eye for composition.
"Cameramen," says NBC sports director Ted Nathanson, "are a director's actors. I can live with one bad cameraman out of six. Once you get beyond that, it takes you out of the game." Leible and Lang are in such demand that the sports division usually books their services in advance, meaning they don't do as many network soap operas and news shows as other cameramen do.
How does one get behind a camera? After leaving the theater, Leible worked as a tree surgeon, owned his own construction company, and drove a Trail-ways bus, which led to a job operating a forklift vehicle on NBC's NFL games in the mid-1960s. From there he worked his way up to cameraman.
Lang, who is in his 60's became a U.S. citizen and joined the Army just before Pearl Harbor. He returned to Germany as an infantry lieutenant in the Third Army and worked as an interpreter on General George S. Pat-ton's staff. He was promoted to captain, and at one point was one of the officers in charge of a POW camp in Bavaria that contained 40,000 SS troops. He later worked as a civilian interrogator at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. "Everybody said he was just following orders," Lang ruefully recalls. Afterward, back in the U.S., Lang took a course in TV cameras and applied for a job. CBS hired him in 1951.
Lang has always had a knack for sitting in on history. He was assigned to Edward R. Murrow's Person to Person. shot Jacqueline Kennedy's TV tour of the White House and covered the Alan Shepard and John Glenn space shots, along with every quadrennial political convention and presidential inauguration since 1952. In sports he was behind the camera when Bart Starr scored the winning TD in the Dallas-Green Bay "Ice Game" championship in 1967. And he had the unforgettable shot of Jack Nicklaus hugging his son Jackie after winning the Masters last year.
Not all moments are so riveting, of course. But they're more likely to pop onto the screen when Leible or Lang is behind the camera.