March 4, 2008 / 7:35 AM / in 10 years

Top directors play ball for ESPN

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - ESPN is joining forces with a slew of A-list filmmakers, including Spike Lee, Richard Linklater and Davis Guggenheim, for a series of documentaries that will debut on the sports cable network next year.

Director Spike Lee (L) and actor Chris Rock watch during the New York Knicks NBA basketball game with the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden in New York, December 23, 2007. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

Each director will make an hour-long film about a sports topic close to his or her heart. The documentaries also might eventually be packaged on DVD.

Linklater likely will examine aspects of the Rose Bowl, the annual college football tourney that takes place in Los Angeles on New Year’s Day. The indie auteur previously directed the 2004 remake of “The Bad News Bears,” a children’s baseball movie, and is working on a documentary about University of Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido.

Guggenheim, the Oscar-winning director of “An Inconvenient Truth,” will explore a childhood sports hero. Guggenheim, who grew up in the 1970s, said the unidentified hero was “misunderstood,” and that the movie would be an “extremely intimate portrait of a person we thought we knew.”

Lee’s project has yet to be determined; the director is an avid basketball and New York Knicks fan.

ESPN will later this month premiere Dan Klores’ “Black Magic,” a four-hour miniseries about Civil Rights-era basketball programs at the country’s historically black colleges.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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