Projects by Spike Lee, Barbara Kopple, Steve Nash and More on Tap
Launched in March 2008, ESPN Inc.’s ESPN Films division will continue its ambitious production of high quality, sports-themed films in fall/winter 2008 with four new titles: Kicking It, Game Day with Kobe, A Woman Among Boys and The Greatest Game Ever Played. By year end, ESPN Films will have televised nine documentaries on ESPN and ESPN2. In addition, five filmmakers were named for the company’s “30 for 30” initiative which will create 30 one-hour films by 30 filmmakers on a subject from the past 30 years in sports, to begin airing in September 2009 (ESPN’s 30th anniversary) through 2010: Famed director Spike Lee (When the Levees Broke), two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA andShut Up & Sing), Oscar nominee Mike Tollin (Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream), two-time NBA MVP and film entrepreneur, Steve Nash, and the rising star duo of Alfred Spellman and Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys).
Keith Clinkscales, ESPN senior vice president, content development and enterprises, said, “Both the fall slate of documentaries and the additions to our “30 for 30” roster demonstrate our desire that the ESPN Films brand be synonymous with quality whether by working with established industry heavyweights or by cultivating young and new talent.”
Fall/Winter 2008 Slate
- Kicking It, produced by award-winning filmmaker Ted Leonsis (The Rape of Nanking) and directed by Susan Koch (Mario’s Story, City at Peace), chronicles the personal struggles and triumphs of seven soccer players from six countries who participated in the 4th Annual Homeless World Cup.
- Game Day with Kobe, directed by Spike Lee, takes a look at the regular game day experience for the NBA great with unprecedented access.
- Greatest Game Ever Played recounts the December 28, 1958 game played between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants at Yankee Stadium for the NFL championship. Johnny Unitas led the Colts to a dramatic 23-17 overtime victory. ESPN will create a new broadcast of this landmark event using the original film of the game and intercutting unique interview pairings of the surviving members of that legendary game and their modern day NLF counterparts from the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants.
- A Woman Among Boys by Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill (Baghdad ER), chronicles Ruth Lovelace, a woman coaching the boys’ basketball team at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, New York. The once highly accomplished and storied basketball program had fallen apart before Lovelace took over as head coach in 1994 at the age of 25. But Lovelace restored basketball excellence, leading the team to 13 straight playoff appearances.
“30 for 30”
- In his directorial debut, Nash will tell the story of Canadian athlete Terry Fox, a cancer survivor who captured the heart of Canada.
- Spellman’s and Corben’s The U explores the football legend known simply as “The U.” No program’s style has been more of a lightning rod for simultaneous excellence and controversy than the University of Miami. Since 1983, the Hurricanes have won more national championships, produced more first-round NFL draft picks and have won more consecutive home games than any team in college football.
- Tollin’s film will examine the demise of the United States Football League
- Lee’s and Kopple’s projects are TBD.
ESPN Films Documentaries
ESPN Films documentary film arm includes production of up to 10 branded documentaries on ESPN and ESPN2 each year and the “30 for 30” initiative. In January 2008, ESPN announced the acquisition of the Sundance selection Kicking It, and then launched its spring slate of films two months later which included the critically acclaimed two-part, four-hour film event Black Magic (Dan Klores) and ESPN2’s four April – May films: Hellfighters (Jon Frankel), The Streak (Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos and Jon Hock), Bud Greenspan: At the Heart of the Games (Cappy Productions) and the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival selection, The Zen of Bobby V (Andrew Jenks, Jonah Quickmire Pettigrew and Andrew Moscato).