30 for 30 documetary series

ESPN Announces Fall Schedule of 30 for 30 Documentaries

The next group of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries will be out this fall and ESPN has released the list of topics and dates of release.

The following films will premiere on consecutive Tuesday nights for six weeks this fall (all times Eastern):

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 8 p.m. – Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau
Tuesday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m. – Free Spirits
Tuesday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. – No Mas
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m. – Big Shot
Tuesday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m. – This Is What They Want
Tuesday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m. – Tonya and Nancy

From ESPN PR, here are the summary description of each film:

Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau (Director: Sam George)

“Eddie Would Go.”  It’s a phrase that has long carried deep meaning with countless Hawaiians and surfers worldwide.  Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau goes beyond those famous three words and chronicles the remarkable life and power of Eddie Aikau, the legendary Hawaiian big wave surfer, pioneering lifeguard and ultimately doomed crew member of the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokule’a.  With a rich combination of archival imagery, contemporary interviews and meticulously researched historical source material, this film is a compelling exploration of the tragic decline and extraordinary re-birth of the Hawaiian culture as personified by a native son whose dynamic life and heroic death served as inspiration to an entire spiritual movement.

Free Spirits (Director: Daniel H. Forer)

When the NBA merged with the American Basketball Association in 1976, four ABA franchises joined the more established league – the Nets, Nuggets, Pacers and Spurs.  But one of the odd teams out found a different way to secure its future.  Free Spirits tells the colorful story of the Spirits of St. Louis – an entertaining and at times controversial team featuring stars like Marvin “Bad News” Barnes and James “Fly” Williams with an upstart sportscaster named Bob Costas calling the play-by-play. The Spirits managed to pull off a stunning playoff upset of the defending champions in their first season, and then, on their way to franchise extinction, co-owners Daniel and Ozzie Silna managed to negotiate a contract that has allowed the team to continue to exist in the most unusual fashion.

No Mas (Director: Eric Drath)

In the midst of boxing’s contemporary golden age -­ the 1980’s -­ stood two fighters who established a captivating rivalry. Their pair of bouts within a span of just over 5 months in 1980 had all the trappings of instant classics. Sugar Ray Leonard, an American hero, who had become a household name after a Gold Medal-winning performance at the 1976 Summer Olympics that led to numerous corporate sponsorships, versus the Latino champion, Roberto Duran, the toughest -­ some said meanest -­ fighter of all time. It was not just the drama and action of these fights that would endure, but those two words uttered in the second of their clashes, which would create a sense of mystery, bewilderment and intrigue to the present day.  No Mas unveils for the first time what really happened, going behind the scenes of these two showdowns with the help of boxing experts, family members and the two fighters themselves.

Big Shot (Director: Kevin Connolly)

In 1996, the once-dominant New York Islanders were in serious trouble.   Lousy performance and poor management were driving away the hockey franchise’s loyal fan base.  The team hit bottom.  Then along came a Dallas businessman named John Spano, who swooped in and agreed to buy the team for 165 million dollars.  Things began to look up for the Islanders –  way up.  But it was all smoke and mirrors.  Big Shot goes inside an extraordinary scandal that engulfed the Islanders.  Featuring the only interview Spano has ever given about the Islanders deal, this film is an unforgettable tale of a dream that became a lie – and how a scam of such epic proportions initially went undetected.

This is What They Want (Directors: Brian Koppelman and David Levien)

When Jimmy Connors arrived in New York for the 1991 U.S. Open, the one-time tennis superstar was 8 years removed from his last Grand Slam singles title, ranked 174th in the world and approaching his 39th birthday.  Not exactly a recipe for success.  But on the verge of a quick first-round exit, Connors suddenly and unexpectedly re-captured the magic, embarking on a stirring and extraordinary run than included an epic contest with Aaron Krickstein on his way to the semifinals.  This is What They Want not only illuminates this highly improbably march past a series of talented and youthful adversaries, it also explores how Connors became a polarizing and provocative personality who helped make tennis a high-octane spectator sport.

Tonya and Nancy (Director: Nanette Burstein)

American hopes for a gold medal in women’s figure skating at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway rested on two very different but equally fascinating personalities: Nancy Kerrigan, the elegant brunette from Massachusetts, and Tonya Harding, the fiery blonde from Oregon. On January 6, 1994, after a practice session at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Kerrigan was stunningly clubbed on the right knee by an unknown assailant and left wailing, “Why, why, why?” As the bizarre “why” mystery unraveled, it was revealed that Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, had plotted the attack with his misfit friends to literally eliminate Kerrigan from the competition.  Now two decades later, Tonya and Nancy takes a fresh look through revealing new interviews with the Harding and Kerrigan camps at a unique worldwide spectacle.

ESPN Sets Schedule for Next Round of 30 for 30 Documentaries

The next round of ESPN Films 30 for 30 documentary series will begin this fall.

The series kicks off with Broke on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 8 p.m. on ESPN/ESPNHD and will air on consecutive Tuesday nights in October, concluding the 2012 run with one film airing in December after the Heisman Trophy Presentation. The 30 for 30 documentaries airing this fall are: Broke9.79*There’s No Place Like Home, Benji,Ghosts of Ole Miss, and You Don’t Know Bo.

Here is the full schedule:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m. – Broke (Billy Corben)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 9, 8 p.m.   9.79* (Daniel Gordon)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8 pm– There’s No Place Like Home (Maura Mandt and Josh Swade)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 23, 8 p.m. – Benji (Coodie and Chike)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m. – Ghosts of Ole Miss (Fritz Mitchell)
  • Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 p.m. –  You Don’t Know Bo (Michael Bonfiglio)

ESPN also announced that the 30 for 30 Shorts will begin showing on Grantland.com September 26th.

The first short will be Arnold’s Blueprint, which focuses on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s teenage years in the Austrian Army.

Here is a list and description of the other 30 for 30 Shorts planned for Grantland.com:

The Arnold Palmer
 Barry Gordon
Summary: An exploration into the history, mystery and industry surrounding “The Arnold Palmer,” the lemonade-and-iced tea beverage that has become a piece of Americana.

Holy Grail: The T206 Honus Wagner
 Nick and Colin Barnacle
Summary: The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card is over 100 years old, worth more than 2 million dollars, and has a life story that is a marriage of myth and reality. Only a handful have ever come to market but the wealth and heartbreak created by this two-inch tall piece of paper is unimaginable. The T206 Honus Wagner: equal parts nightmare and fantasy.

The Other Side
Director: Vanessa Roth
Summary: When 18 children – nine from Palestine and nine from Israel – come together to form a kids soccer team, they come face-to-face with the other side for the first time in their lives. United by the common goals of teamwork and dedication to a shared purpose, they confront generations of fear head on. Is peace through sports really possible, or is it hopelessly naive to think that a handful of 12-year-old soccer players can begin to change their world?

Bias’ Death Still Resonates 23 Years Later

espn30for30It’s amazing how one remembers where they were when an event of historical significance takes place.  Those alive in November of 1963 will always remember where they were on the day President Kennedy was assassinated.  Those today remember what they were doing on 9/11.

Growing up in New England and being a fan of the Boston professional sports teams, I remember where I was on June 19, 1986 when I learned that the Celtics’ top draft pick and the torch bearer in carrying on the Green tradition, Len Bias, died.   Bias died of a cocaine overdose only two days after being drafted by the Celtics.