Film about Late WBO Heavyweight Champion Marks First 30 for 30 Debut Exclusively for Streaming and On-Demand Audiences on September 13; Will Air on ESPN2 September 27
ESPN Films will premiere a documentary on the ESPN App and on-demand for the first time with the next installment of the award-winning 30 for 30 series, “Tommy.” The film about the late WBO heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison will be available exclusively for streaming and on-demand audiences starting Wednesday, September 13. It will then make its broadcast premiere on Wednesday, September 27, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Co-directed by Gentry Kirby and Erin Leyden, “Tommy” examines Morrison’s remarkable rise to the spotlight, followed by a stunning, confounding, and ultimately tragic fall. He was one of the best heavyweights of his time; a handsome, charming, yet unsettled young star. Born into a troubled family in America’s heartland, Morrison’s initial emergence as a fighter was bolstered by a starring role in “Rocky V.” A few years later he beat George Foreman for the WBO heavyweight title, and seemed primed for more stardom, even in the face of blown opportunities and upset losses. But everything changed in early 1996 when he tested positive for HIV, abruptly forcing him into retirement at age 27. From there, Morrison’s life spiraled further and further downward, plagued by drug problems, jail time, and an eventual denial that he had the virus at all.
“Although testing positive for HIV was a big part of Tommy’s life, we did not set out for this to be an HIV story,” said co-director Gentry Kirby. “’Tommy’ is more of a personal, intimate look into how a person’s upbringing can affect their ability to handle everything that life throws at them.”
Adds co-director Erin Leyden: “One of the things I found so compelling about Tommy was the sense that he always wanted to do the right thing, yet so many of the challenges he faced were self-inflicted due to the decisions he made.”
Through interviews with Morrison’s promoter, manager, trainers and family, among others, the film explores the one-time heavyweight champion’s unlikely rise and sudden fall. There have been other boxers and other sports stars whose stories ended sadly, but rarely is the loss of potential as poignant as the case of Tommy Morrison.
Advance press screeners available upon request. Additional information, including film clips and director statements and bios, will be available on the 30 for 30 website espn.com/30for30. Follow 30 for 30 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join the conversation with hashtag #Tommy. The full film will also be available On Demand immediately following the broadcast debut on ESPN2 Wednesday, September 27. 30 for 30 is presented by Mini.
“Tommy” will be available to stream in the new “Watch” tab on the ESPN App for iOS and Android, which launched as part of last week’s 5.10 update. The release marks the latest effort to create a comprehensive, one-stop shop for sports fans by integrating more live and on-demand video content directly into the ESPN App that is both personal and discoverable. Video-on-demand access will also be available on set top boxes and OTT devices through a pay TV provider.
About ESPN Films
ESPN Films has been an industry leader in documentary filmmaking since its inception in March 2008, producing more than 100 documentaries that have showcased some of the most compelling stories in sports. The high quality of storytelling, highlighted by the Peabody and Emmy-Award winning 30 for 30 series and the Academy-Award winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America,” has led to record viewership as well as multiple honors and critical acclaim. Additional projects from ESPN Films over the years have included 30 for 30 Shorts, Nine for IX and the SEC Storied series.