Short film from new Spike Lee series will kick off weekly presentation
ESPN today announced that SportsCenter will debut a new weekly segment beginning Friday, Feb. 6, titled “Friday Night Movie Night,” in which a short film from one of ESPN Films’ popular documentary series will air in the 6 p.m. ET hour each Friday. The weekly presentation will showcase a variety of shorts over time, most of which will be making their TV or world premiere.
“We’re thrilled to provide a showcase for these fantastic films, and we’re confident that fans will be dazzled by the ingenuity and insight in every story,” said Rob King, Senior VP, SportsCenter and News.
Kicking off “Friday Night Movie Night” will be “Ray Allen/AKA-Jesus Shuttlesworth,” the first short from a new collection of films executive produced by Spike Lee. The series, Spike Lee’s Lil’ Joints, will showcase narratives that are personally curated by Lee, with the majority revolving around African-American stories that are not widely known. Bringing these unique sports tales to life is a roster of up-and-coming as well as renowned filmmakers Lee assembled. Each short will be preceded by an introduction from Lee.
“People today have a thirst for new voices, for new visions, new filmmakers and Spike Lee’s Lil’ Joints is that platform,” said Lee. “There are great stories out there that might not warrant a full length documentary, but they are great stories nonetheless. This endeavor will let those stores be told.”
Spike Lee’s Lil’ Joints will be comprised of eight episodes that will debut monthly from February through September 2015 with a second season in 2016. After premiering on SportsCenter, each short will be available online via ESPN.com and ESPN’s social and mobile outlets. Confirmed topics include:
“Ray Allen/AKA-Jesus Shuttlesworth”
Directed by Spike Lee
An exploration of nicknames in the NBA, with a focus on Ray Allen as “Jesus Shuttlesworth,” the character he played in Lee’s movie “He Got Game.”
Untitled Willie O’Ree
Directed by Amani Martin
An inspirational story of the man who broke the color barrier in professional hockey and secretly played his career blind in one eye. For more than a decade, O’Ree has been the director of youth development for the NHL’s diversity program, helping to introduce more inner city youth to a game that has seen short numbers that represent them.
Untitled Kobe and Tamika
Directed by Joie Jacoby
In the Roman ruins of Italy in 1986, a little girl and a little boy play together far away from their native land. The little girl ended up becoming Tamika Catchings, one of the most successful basketball players in WNBA history, and the little boy grew up to become the legendary Kobe Bryant. After dominating the sport they have both loved and conquered for the past three decades, two old friends reunite to discuss their shared past as the children of basketball stars and how schoolyard games seeded their now famous competitive drives. They will reminisce about moments of triumph as they pursued their parallel paths to the pinnacle of achievement. Tamika and Kobe will commiserate over the final chapters of their legendary careers and what they look forward to as they enter a new quarter of their lives.
Untitled David Robinson
Directed by Alrick Brown
This short film is the latest chapter in a compelling family saga – the tale of sixty-two year old David Robinson, the youngest child of civil rights hero Jackie Robinson, and the life he has built as a farmer in Africa. Robinson has spent the last 30 years assimilating entirely into African culture; raising a family thousands of miles from the Brooklyn streets where his father built a legend, the lily-white suburbs of Connecticut where he was raised and the upscale American businesses that serve his product and fuel his mission – using the world’s second-most-valuable natural resource to spur social change and honor his father’s legacy.
Directed by Marquis Daisy
Crispus Attucks explores the ascent to greatness of one of sports’ most transcendent figures, Oscar Robertson. In 1955, Robertson and his high school teammates burst onto the national scene in “basketball crazed” Indianapolis, Indiana, by becoming the nation’s first all-black team to win a state title. They defied the principals of segregation that were designed to prohibit their up rise, and instead used them as fuel to propel them to greatness. Widely considered one of professional basketball’s pioneers, Oscar Robertson, in his own words, provides a personal glimpse into his past, giving insight as to how he and his Crispus Attucks teammates were amongst the first to represent change.
About ESPN Films:
Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing some of the most compelling stories in sports. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched its signature 30 for 30 film series, which has since won a Peabody Award, Producer’s Guild Award and an Emmy Award. Inspired by ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the films that made up the series were a thoughtful and innovative reflection on the past three decades told through the lens of diverse and interesting sports fans and social commentators. The strong reaction from both critics and fans led to the launch of 30 for 30 Volume II, which is currently underway. Additional projects from ESPN Films include the critically-acclaimed Nine for IX series, SEC Storied and the Webby Award- and Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 Shorts.
SportsCenter was the first program televised by ESPN on September 7, 1979. Live editions are currently presented 18 hours daily. It presents highlights, news, features and analysis in a creative, innovative and timely manner by a lineup of respected anchors, reporters and analysts.