The first sports-based reality series -– and one of the fastest-turnaround reality series -– kicks off its fourth season on Wednesday, Aug. 6 (10-11 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. Subsequent hour-long episodes air each Wednesday at the same time, culminating in the Sept. 3 season finale, with regular encore plays on Thursdays.
First season: 1960
Home stadiums: Cotton Bowl, 1960-1971; Texas Stadium, 1971-present
Division championships: 19
NFC championships: 8
"We are extremely excited that Hard Knocks will be returning this summer and reconnecting with one of the great franchises in professional sports," says Ross Greenburg, president, HBO Sports. "With an abundant lineup of stars, the Cowboys are again one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL. We are as eager as a first-round draft choice for next summer's camp."
"It's the most challenging, high-profile project of the year for NFL Films," says NFL Films president Steve Sabol. "There is no shooting script, no structure, no format. The storylines change weekly. For NFL Films, it is a six-week-long audible. We're privileged to be able to work with HBO and the Cowboys."
The five-episode cinema verité series will focus on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches as the Dallas Cowboys, an organization steeped in championship tradition, prepare for the 2008 NFL season in the ultra-competitive NFC East. Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Dallas Cowboys will chronicle second-year head coach Wade Phillips and an intriguing mix of high-profile veterans, free agents and rookie hopefuls throughout training camp and the preseason. Each week, viewers will watch as players experience drills, meetings and fun, while struggling to prove they have what it takes to make the team and make their mark in the NFL.
"HBO's ability to develop sports and entertainment franchises is unmatched in television," says Jerry Jones, owner and general manager, Dallas Cowboys. "They commit the resources to do it the right way, and they know how to effectively reach sports fans. This is an opportunity for the Cowboys to bring millions of our fans closer to our team and the training camp experience."
Greenburg already is predicting best-ever ratings for his five-show series. Even with the Olympics as competition, he's confident his weekly program will be overflowing with several interesting story lines -- with his cameras getting exclusive behind-the-scenes access.
"It's fair to say this thing should go through the roof," Greenburg said.
A 24-person NFL Films crew will live at the Cowboys' training camp, shooting more than 700 hours of video over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will be given unencumbered access to the players' and coaches' meeting rooms, training rooms, dormitories and practice fields.
"There's nothing like following that rookie trying to make the team," Greenburg said. "They're still wearing that star and they're trying to become a teammate of T.O. and Tony Romo, which is probably their dream. That's great television also."
Expect Terrell Owens to earn his share of time.
"If the cameras are going to be there, I've got to be ready," Owens said Wednesday during an interview to promote his appearance next week on MyNetworkTV's "Under One Roof."
"It's going to be an experience initially, but once you get into practice and two-a-days, guys are going to be too tired to focus on what's being taped. It's not really any different than playing in front of people in the stadium, game being televised. It's no different than our practices being taped. It's just more up close and personal. You get all the good, bad and ugly, the sweat, bumps, bruises and tears. Other than that, it'll be good."
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.