The Bill Simmons-created 30 for 30 series is one of the absolute best things ESPN does. Even the lesser films in the canon are products the network can be proud it produced, while the best (Kings Ransom, Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? and The Two Escobars immediately come to mind) transcend sports and stand up with some of the top modern documentary filmmaking.
That's why we're always happy to see a new slate of films announced, and the ones ESPN has lined up for the fall are no less intriguing. The series returns Oct. 1 for another go-around, with six weeks of new films.
"We continue to see an insatiable appetite for well-told sports stories that both tap into nostalgia and allow for discovery of new insight and detail. We are proud to be the destination for fans looking for high-quality films that take them inside the worlds that they love," says Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films. "Sports hold an increasingly prominent place in American culture, and our new slate of films exemplifies our ongoing goal of telling cultural stories that last."
The six-week "season" will be led off with the Sam George-directed Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau, a story about the legendary Hawaiian surfer. Free Spirits (Oct. 8) tells the story of the Spirits of St. Louis ABA franchise. No Mas (Oct. 15) looks inside the classic Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran fights. The Kevin Connolly-directed Big Shot (Oct. 22) tells the story of fraudulent former New York Islanders owner John Spano. Solitary Man co-writers/directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien bring us This is What They Want (Oct. 29), a look back at Jimmy Connors' performance at the 1991 U.S. Open. Finally, Academy Award nominee Nanette Burstein presents Tonya and Nancy (Nov. 5), which retells the famous story of Harding and Kerrigan.
ESPN has aired 51 30 for 30 films to date, with directors as diverse as Peter Berg, Ice Cube, Morgan Spurlock, Alex Gibney, John Singleton and Mike Tollin. The series has been a critical and ratings success for the network.