ESPN Films has lined up docs from Peabody and Emmy winner Ezra Edelman and Emmy winner Jason Hehir that are set to air as part of the celebrated ’30 for 30′ series.
Produced by ESPN Films, Edelman’s five-part, 10-hour documentary event OJ: Made in America (pictured) will explore the themes of race and celebrity in the U.S. “through the lens of OJ Simpson’s rise and fall.”
The program will trace Orenthal James “OJ” Simpson’s elevation to NFL star running back of the Buffalo Bills in the 1970s; the accusations and eventual acquittal of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ronald Lyle Goldman in the 1990s; and his eventual incarceration in 2007 on numerous felonies, including armed robbery and kidnapping.
The episodic doc will enjoy its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22 before making its television debut on ESPN in June.
“OJ: Made in America is unlike anything ESPN Films has done before and Ezra’s phenomenal work has taken one man’s story and, through it, explored the topics of celebrity, sports, police brutality, race relations and domestic violence,” said Connor Schell, senior VP of ESPN Films and original content, in a statement.
Meanwhile, ESPN Films will debut Hehir’s The ’85 Bears on February 4 at 9 p.m. EST/PST. Exec produced by Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley, the film will explore a “group of misfits” that formed the 1985 Chicago Bears ahead of the 30th anniversary of the team’s historic Super Bowl XX victory over the New England Patriots.
Acclaimed director Marina Zenovich’s Fantastic Lies, meanwhile, will recount the night of March 13, 2006, when players of the Duke University lacrosse team hosted a party that resulted in a high-profile legal investigation while igniting national debate. The film will broadcast on March 13 at 9 p.m. EST/PST.
Elsewhere, directors Erin Leyden and Gentry Kirby will this April examine the Orlando Magic, a promising championship powerhouse of the NBA in the mid-1990s. The film is exec produced by Magic teammates Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.
Finally, Trainwreck director Judd Apatow and You Don’t Know Bo director Michael Bonfiglio are slated to uncover the intersecting lives and careers of former New York Mets stars Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. The doc will air this summer and is exec produced by Radical Media’s Dave O’Connor and Justin Wilkes.
“Our first two films of the year highlight the diversity of topics that we seek with the ’30 for 30′ series,” said John Dahl, ESPN Films VP and executive producer. “The Bears film offers a fresh yet nostalgic look at one of the most iconic teams in NFL history while the hard-hitting Fantastic Lies goes far beyond the playing field with an examination of how multiple factors led to a miscarriage of justice.”