ESPN to air doc film series, “Rise Up” four-parter

Sports docs from Alex Gibney and Morgan Spurlock (pictured) are in the slate, while the original series Rise Up brings more factual programming to the U.S. net.
July 28, 2011

American cable sports network ESPN, home to the acclaimed doc film series ’30 for 30,’ will air a seven-week series of new docs from filmmakers such as Morgan Spurlock (pictured) and Alex Gibney, starting September 27.

The documentaries, created with ESPN Films, debut with Gibney’s Catching Hell, which examines scapegoat mentality through the context of two events in baseball: the foul ball caught by Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman that was seen as a crucial turning point in the Cubs’ fortunes during the 2003 National League Championship Series, and Bill Buckner of the Boston Red Sox missing a ground ball in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Spurlock’s The Dotted Line, airing October 11, looks at the role of agents in major league sports, profiling agents Peter Greenberg and Eugene Lee as well as clients from the New York Mets and two NFL hopefuls.

Eric Drath’s Renée, which had its world premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, airs October 4 and follows the story of Renée Richards, the first transsexual tennis player to compete in the U.S. Women’s Open in 1977.

Steve Michaels’ Charismatic delves into the world of horse racing, while Martin Khodabakhshian’s Roll Tide/War Eagle examines the sports rivalry between the University of Alabama and Auburn University.

Other projects on the slate include Jeff Feuerzeig’s The Real Rocky, the story of boxer Chuck Wepner; and Jonathan Hock’s Unguarded, which tells the tale of a young basketball hopeful battling addictions.

The network will also air a four-part docuseries beginning in September entitled Rise Up, which will document four American communities endeavoring to renovate local high school sports facilities. The series will be hosted by ESPN college football analyst Chris Spielman and mechanical engineer/TV host Deanne Bell (also seen on PBS’ Design Squad, Discovery’s Smash Lab, and DIY Network’s Money Hunters).

The series is a follow-up of sorts to 2010′s one-hour special, Rise Up New Orleans, which documented a similar initiative in that city.

Rise Up is produced by ESPN Content Development and Asylum Entertainment, and premieres September 13.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.