Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX, ESPN Films and ESPNW are presenting a series of nine documentaries about women in sports by female filmmakers. Here are a few details about the initial presentations:
“Venus VS.” – Directed by Ava DuVernay
(Debuts July 2 8PM ET)
What most Americans don’t know about Venus Williams is how she changed the course of her sport. Follow the money.
In a stunning case that captured the European public beginning in 2005, Williams challenged the long-held practice of paying women tennis players less money than their male counterparts at Wimbledon.
With a deep sense of obligation to the legacy of Billie Jean King, Williams lobbied British Parliament, UNESCO and Fleet Street for financial parity. Indeed, it was her poignant op-ed piece in The London Times that convinced many people that the tournament organizers at Wimbledon were “on the wrong side of history.”
The boys clubs at Roland Garros and Wimbledon finally relented in 2007. In fact, during that same year at Wimbledon, Venus became the first women’s champion to earn as much as the men’s champ (Roger Federer).
Winner of the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film “Middle of Nowhere,” Ava DuVernay is a writer, producer, director and distributor of independent film. DuVernay made her feature directorial debut with the critically acclaimed 2008 hip-hop documentary, “This Is The Life”.
“Pat XO” – Directed By Nancy Stern Winters and Lisa Lax
(Debuts July 9 8PM ET)
“Pat XO” tells the remarkable story of Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in the history of the NCAA basketball, as it has never been told before.
On April 18, 2012, Pat Summitt, announced her resignation from the University of Tennessee. On the very same day, her son, Tyler, was hired as an assistant for the Marquette women’s basketball team, his first job out of college. While the sports world reeled from the news of Pat’s early-onset dementia, the coach and her son quietly set out to beat this challenge just as they had every other — with grace, humor and most of all, each other.
Twin sisters Nancy Stern Winters and Lisa Lax have produced specials for PBS, after lengthy stints in network sports broadcasting.
“No Limits” – Directed by Alison Ellwood
(Debuts July 23 8PM ET)
As a teenager, Audrey Mestre suffered from scoliosis, but in those formative years, she discovered a passion for the ocean. It offered her a sense of freedom, and the burdens she faced on dry land soon dissipated as she slipped below the surface. In the final stages of her Ph.D., Mestre was drawn to Cabo San Lucas, where she became infatuated with free diver Pipin Ferreras, a Cuban defector whose dives had put him at the forefront of the sport.
The two became a couple, and Mestre followed the often elusive, often raucous Ferreras on his almost spiritual quest to push his limits underwater. Soon enough, Mestre moved from support team member to ardent free diver and then to a world-class competitor who outshone her husband.
In 2002, after news arrived that a rival female diver named Tanya Streeter had successfully gone to a record-breaking 525 feet, Ferreras began preparations for Mestre to make a 561-foot dive off the coast of the Canary Islands. Having completed practice dives even deeper in the weeks leading up to the record attempt, Mestre was prepared. But because of a fateful decision before the dive, Mestre never resurfaced alive.
Alison’s credits for television documentaries include the Emmy Award winning series “American High,” “The Travelers” and “Sixteen.” Her television producing credits include “The Human Behavior Experiments,” “The Residents,” “30 Days” and “Brick City.” She recently completed a feature-length documentary about the rise and demise of the classic American rock and roll band, The Eagles
Two traditional hockey towns, Boston and Chicago, the 2011 and 2010 NHL Champions provide the first matchup of a pair of original franchises since the 1979 Stanley Cup (Canadiens over Rangers).
On the surface, it looks like the winner could be who wins in the battle of the Bruin defense vs. the Blackhawk offense.
In addition to Marian Hossa (14 points), Patrick Sharp (14 points) and Duncan Keith (11 points) on the blueline, in beating the Kings to advance to the Final, Chicago’s main firepower of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are heating up at the right time.
The Blackhawks will need all of that and more as Boston’s D has shut down everything in their path to the Final. Led by Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara, the Bruins showed their dominance by silencing Sydney Crosby in sweeping the Penguins in four straight.
There’s also the age-old “riding the hot goalie” theory in play here (like the LA Kings riding netminder Jonathan Quick to a title last year) as, at least statistically, the two best goaltenders in the postseason, Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Chicago’s Corey Crawford have shined in the post-season. Rask is 12-4-1 with a 1.75 GAA and a .943 save percentage (the best in the NHL playoffs). Crawford is 12-5-1 with a 1.74 GAA (the best in the NHL playoffs) and a .935 save percentage.
In the end, simply put, these are two hard-hitting squads that could make this a true black-and-blue finale with the winner perhaps coming from the team that can wear down the other from a sheer physicality point of view.
PREDICTION: Boston’s scoring from leader David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand combined with a smothering defense is awesome, but the depth of the Blackhawks will prevail. Chicago wins in 7.
|WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2013
||BOSTON AT CHICAGO
|SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2013
||BOSTON AT CHICAGO
|MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2013
||CHICAGO AT BOSTON
|WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2013
||CHICAGO AT BOSTON
|*SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2013
||BOSTON AT CHICAGO
|*MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2013
||CHICAGO AT BOSTON
|*WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2013
||BOSTON AT CHICAGO
* If necessary
** All Times eastern.
Though the Heat had to adapt their usual system to beat a tough Pacer squad in the Eastern Conference Finals, look for them to return to use that pace and spacing to deny Gregg Popovich his fifth crown as Miami takes on San Antonio in the 2013 NBA Finals.
One key is that you can expect Miami to employ what has brought them success as defending champions, placing their shooters such as Mike Miller and Shane Battier to help space the floor thus allowing Dwyane Wade and LeBron James with more room to play off of one another with dishes, pull-ups and penetration. Despite shooting poorly against Indiana, center Chris Bosh has had a pair of big games against the Spurs during the regular season averaging over 10 rebounds and 20 points.
Power forward Udonis Haslem played well against the Pacers and will likely be matched up against steady performer Tiago Splitter. Where Miami may be challenged most is how Mario Chalmers can reduce the effectiveness of Tony Parker who is carrying the offensive load for San Antonio. But if coach Spoelstra gives Norris Cole more minutes and he lights up from beyond the arc, that could provide another weapon even more effective if Ray Allen can sink his threes from the corners.
For San Antonio, in addition to the expected contributions by The Big Three veteran triumvirate of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs have a hot 3-point shooter in guard Danny Green with a solid bench core that includes Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw. Kawhi Leonard is quite versatile, but is likely to have his hands full just trying to keep James from going off the charts.
The Heat are a little more banged up (how’s Wade’s knee?) and while I’d never underestimate a Gregg Popovich team, one that is well-rested, been there before, smart and disciplined, still the prediction here is that Miami defends its title.
Game 1: at MIA, Thu., June 6, 9:00 p.m., ABC
Game 2: at MIA, Sun., June 9, 8:00 p.m., ABC
Game 3: at SA, Tue., June 11, 9:00 p.m., ABC
Game 4: at SA, Thu., June 13, 9:00 p.m., ABC
Game 5: at SA, Sun., June 16, 8:00 p.m., ABC*
Game 6: at MIA, Tue., June 18, 9:00 p.m., ABC*
Game 7: at MIA, Thu., June 20, 9:00 p.m., ABC*
*If necessary. All times Eastern.
With the French Open getting underway, Rafael Nadal’s dominance at the Parisian courts known as Roland Garros shows no sign of slowing down (he’s won the tournament 7 of the 8 last times he’s entered). Since coming back from knee surgery, the Spaniard has lost only twice, winning six titles and reaching eight finals. Appearing in just eight events, that’s a pretty impressive comeback.
On the women’s side Serena Williams is hoping the confidence that comes from being ranked No. 1 in the world and riding a 24-match winning streak will overcome the memory of a first-round upset here last year.
The men’s number one, Novak Djokovic, would appear to have the best chance of stopping the Nadal Red Clay Steamroller having beat the Spaniard on the surface at Monte Carlo last month.
31 year-old Roger Federer, whose 17 major titles are a record in men’s tennis (including one French Open in 2009) was beaten soundly by Nadal 6-1, 6-3, on the clay courts of Rome in the finals last week.
Williams’ 15 major titles includes only one French, which she won nearly a dozen years ago, so clearly the defending Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion is vulnerable on this surface. But Serena’s confidence should also be bolstered by her recent play on clay. A week ago in Rome, Williams beat No. 3 Victoria Azarenka in the final, 6-1, 6-3.
Should Maria Sharapova meet Williams in the finals, the Russian has won just twice in their 15 meetings.
The first all-German Champions League final takes place Saturday when Bayern Munich meets Borussia Dortmund at London’s Wembley Stadium for soccer’s leading annual match. Borussia Dortmund (BVB) is the 2012 Bundesliga Champion and Bayern Munich (FCB) the 2013 Bundesliga Champions (Dortmund finished a distant second).
This is the 4th time in 14 years that teams have played in the finals from the same country. The first time it happened was in 1999-00 when Real Madrid defeated Valencia.
To get there the teams knocked off Spanish kings Barcelona (Bayern 7-0 over two games) and Real Madrid (Dortmund 4-1).
Despite having lost the title game twice in recent years (including at home last year), Bayern is favored. The Munich men dominated the regular Bundesliga season, but Dortmund has performed well against Bayern having lost just once in their last eight games against them. However, injuries to key Dortmund players like attacking central midfielder Mario Gotze who pulled a hamstring in the second leg against Real Madrid and hasn’t played since, will likely be a factor.
Bayern is strong in its wing attack led by Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, but Dortmund has found success doubling up on them. If that is the plan here, look for Thomas Muller to take advantage of the midfield space.
And it is in that central space where perhaps the most intriguing matchup will take place- between Bayern’s Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dortmund’s Ilkay Gündogan.
But like many team sports, the title game often comes down to defense and the back third of Bayern has the edge there. Munich has a strong defensive rotation of Dante, Van Buyten, Boateng, Badstuber and Lahm.
I see Bayern winning the match.
Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): David Alaba; Arjen Robben, Manuel Neuer; Thomas Müller, Philipp Lahm, Dante, Mario Mandzukic. Daniel Van Buyten, Javi Martínez, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Franck Ribéry.
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Marco Reus,; Ilkay Gündogan,; Lukasz Piszczek, Kevin Grosskreutz Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels,; Roman Wiedenfelle: Sven Bender; Kuba Blaszczykowski, Robert Lewandowski Marcel Schmelzer.
TV Coverage – Fox Sports 11am PT
Bayern’s Arjen Robben
Motion pictures, documentaries and television series with a sporting backdrop are filling the development and production pipeline across the networks and studios.
Here are a few:
-Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg will star for HBO in a dramedy series following retired athletes in Miami.
-Mickey Rourke will lend his voice to “Generation Iron” a documentary that follows the world’s top seven bodybuilders as they compete to bring home the coveted “Mr. Olympia” title.
-A movie based on the life of Tyler Hamilton, a former Olympic gold medalist and NCAA champion. The former professional bike racer was in Lance Armstrong’s inner circle on the US Postal Service Team. Both befelled by drugs.
-“Draft Day”. This Ivan Reitman-directed football motion picture stars Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner about the craziness of the NFL Draft. Denis Leary will play Vince Penn, the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns, who finds himself at odds with the team’s GM (Costner).
-Now shooting in India is “Million Dollar Arm”, where a sports agent stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Asian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.
-With World Cup coming next year to Brazil, there are reports of several soccer movies in development including a biography of Pele and another about the recent growing intensity of soccer match-fixing scandals.
- Jim Caviezel, Laura Dern and Michael Chiklis will be featured in the football film, “When the Game Stands Tall”. The story centers on De La Salle High School football Coach Bob Ladouceur (Caviezel) and his assistant coach Terry Eidson (Chiklis), who took the Concord, Calif., Spartans prep team from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak from 1992-2003.
-Director Ron Howard takes us into the rivalry-intense world of 1970s Formula One auto racing with “Rush”. A biography of Formula 1 champion driver Niki Lauda of Austria and the 1976 crash that almost claimed his life. Mere weeks after the accident, he got behind the wheel to challenge his rival, Britain’s James Hunt.
The popular annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival rolls into Hollywood this week under the theme of Travel in the Movies.
Over the next four days, movie lovers from around the world will be taken on a wide range of cinematic journeys and the experience will be enhanced by the appearance of such stars as Mel Brooks, Cybill Shepherd, Burt Reynolds, Debra Winger and Jon Voight who will talk about their experiences in films connected with that theme.
In a festival filled with planes, trains, or automobiles, auto racing fans will be ecstatic to learn there will be in depth coverage in addition to the screening of the classic film, “Le Mans” featuring Steve McQueen.
On Saturday evening at ClubTCM located in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel there will be a pre-screening discussion about the making of the film. Chad McQueen and race car drivers Derek Bell and Vic Elford talk about the making of the film and their memories of Le Mans.
Incorporating footage from the actual 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans race, Le Mans (1971) is widely considered one of the most authentic of racing films, due in no small part to the passion that star Steve McQueen had for the sport.
Stepping out of his wool Brooklyn Dodgers uniform fresh from the hit movie where he portrays baseball legend Jackie Robinson, actor Chad Boseman is reportedly in negotiations to play a linebacker from Louisiana whose future is riding on the annual NFL draft.
“Draft Day” features Kevin Costner as a team GM who must make tough professional and personal choices in the 24-hour period of the NFL draft.
The cast features Jennifer Gardner, Ellen Burstyn and Denis Leary.
The film, directed by Ivan Reitman, begins shooting this week in New York then moves to Cleveland.
In speaking with the young actor recently at Dodger Stadium, here’s what Chad had to say about his experience portraying Jackie Robinson in the new Warner Bros. film – “42”.
Tell us about what Branch was trying to prepare Jackie for with those famous words: ‘have the courage not to fight back’.
Jackie was a fighter. It was necessary for that person to have a fighting spirit. In order to endure what he’d have to go through. Duality of not fighting there’s the internal struggle within him. I found that one can’t be a hero, a protagonist if he’s a pacifist. It had to be an internal struggle where he’s fighting himself, fighting his normal tendencies.
Resisting the urge to retaliate, he couldn’t even say anything let alone, physically strike back. How difficult was that for him? How difficult was it for him to be able to find that fortitude.
He was a spiritual man and his situation challenged that. Telling him to live up to the tenants of what Christ was saying. Jackie did get some guidance from a minister friend of his. Branch also being a Methodist, I think that also helped him. I think at a certain point he understood that this situation was bigger than himself. That what he was going through was for other people as well. I think that’s what allowed him to do it.
How much a role did Rachel (JR’s widow) have in the film project?
I think she was really wise in letting us filmmakers, do what we do. She made comments about the script, Brian has been clear about the fact she gave him notes. She is not a person that holds her tongue. All of her strength comes through in the script I think.
What advice did you ask her for?
Doing a character you want to know the full landscape. Mentally, physically so I asked her all those questions like physical things he did that stood out for her. She talked about how she perceived him initially was that he ‘had a big ego’ before she knew him.
The way he stood, the way he held his hands on his hips. All those physical things I tried to do, being pigeon-toed. But mostly just the type of person he was, disciplined and his demeanor. We sat down for hours in our first meeting. Talked about his personality and what his tendencies were.
I follow more players than teams right now. I love Josh Hamilton’s story. His ups and downs. I tend to root for the Braves because my dad is a Braves fan. So when I talk to him I don’t want him to be upset about how they played. For me in my past I think Ken Griffey Jr. is a freak of nature. He is amazing. In this past year I have started rooting for the Dodgers a lot more.
What did you learn about Jackie that you didn’t before?
A lot of different stuff. I don’t even know where to start. I didn’t know how much of a legend he was before breaking the color barrier. Even if he didn’t do that he would have went down in history as a black Jim Thorpe, one of the greatest all-round athletes of his time. He could’ve played many different sports if he wanted to.
Talk about adjusting to playing with the equipment of that era – huge bats, gloves etc.
What we did at first was use modern equipment in practice. No reason to start and kill yourself at first. The shoes were actually the worse thing because they have come along way since Jackie’s day now with the (built-in) support. I probably ran through 5-6 pairs of shoes in the course of filming. My feet had bone bruises that I didn’t get over for several months.
Also batting without gloves – jammed thumbs, bone bruises.
When you think about players from that time, the bats are heavier which we obviously didn’t have to use a heavy bat when we were filming, my coach Dennis Reitz here was adamant about me using a heavier bat (in training) just so I might understand why Jackie used a heavier bat.
With the gloves there are no one-handers, you have to use two hands which is the fundamental way to do it. There’s no pocket really in the glove. All that stuff was hard to deal with.
Jackie had a high pitched voice what was the editorial decision on trying to emulate that?
I wish more people asked that question. It is a great question that allows me to talk about several different things in this process. Brian Helgeland early on, we talked about JR’s voice and I had been practicing it at home, he said I should not do it, because it will be distracting.
I played the lead before in an independent film and it is an interesting thing understanding how the elements of storytelling of a film. He said ‘you know, you’re the lead’ and that is all he said.
I spoke with Mr. Ford about it in NY and he said ‘you have to find the spirit of the man. You’re the lead, you’re the character. You’ve got the part Jackie does not have the part. It all has to come out of you’.
How relevant is Jackie to today’s generation?
My driver to this event today asked me what role I played in the movie. Then he still didn’t connect Jackie Robinson with 42. There it is even in prime time with billboards and all and people still don’t know who the person is.
It speaks to what Harrison (Ford who co-stars as Branch Rickey) said, you have to have a visceral connection with something for it to really set in. That is why theater and film is important as it allows you to in a ritualistic way to find that hero inside yourself through the character. And I think Jackie Robinson deserves to have that place in our hearts, for us to find ourselves through him.
Yes, I think getting the story out there is important because it helps us as a nation to grow as people.
I recently sat down with the actor at Dodger Stadium to discuss his role as Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey in the new Warner Bros. film, “42”.
Scheduled for release nationwide Friday and pegged to Major League Baseball’s annual Jackie Robinson Day, “42” tells the story of two men—African-American Jackie Robinson and trailblazing Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey—whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball.
In 1947, Rickey put himself at the forefront of history when he signed Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking Major League Baseball’s infamous color line. But the deal also put both in the firing line of the public, the press and other players.
Talk about what Branch was trying to prepare Jackie for with those famous words: “Have courage not to fight back”-
(That) scene is based on reconstructed recollections and is a pretty accurate depiction of what went on during that first meeting.
Branch wanted to know the practical side of Jackie’s commitment, whether he would be able to do that because he did have a temper.
I think another thing the film articulates is the strength he got from the relationship with his wife. We didn’t have the opportunity to meet Jackie Robinson, but we have had the opportunity to meet Rachel Robinson. She is a formidable presence, great grace and beauty but also steel.
How much a role did Rachel have in the film project?
She has been directly involved with rights and Jackie’s legacy in the JR Foundation which she heads. (It) is an educational scholarship foundation. It is really quite remarkable.
Anyone still alive that had intimate knowledge of Branch Rickey that you talked to?
Yes, there are some people, but I frankly depended less on that than. There’s a really good book written by Jimmy Breslin. Branch Rickey (also) wrote about himself and people in baseball. There was a little bit of film, some recorded television appearances, speeches and a lot of audiotape. So I based my representation of the character on that and photographs.
Jackie is not only a tremendous sports figure, but is also significant in the social history aspect of America, yet every April 15th JR Day there are surprisingly a lot of kids now that are not aware of this man, how important is it to you to get this story out..again?
You know every textbook representation of Jackie Robinson mentioning him breaking the color barrier in baseball is useful, but there is nothing like the visceral experience that an audience can have when they see, when they can feel, participate in the experience that Jackie Robinson had. That is what I think is most important about this (film) version of it.
You know there is this thing in film I am always railing against, tv, any kind of storytelling, where the characters TALK about the story. I call it talk story.
I want the writing and the film to allow BEHAVIOR to express the characters’ feeling about it rather than the characters TALKING about how they feel about something. I want the audience to not be told what’s coming. (I) want them to experience through emotional continuity about what it felt like to be there. And this film does that in a really important way.
Talk about your experience working with Chad (Boseman who portrays Jackie Robinson).
First, I respect him as an actor. But nothing compares to my respect for how hard he worked to gain the skills of a baseball player. He didn’t act, he actually had the skills. At least five hours a day of working with big league baseball coaches. That was really impressive to me.
Talk about how religion and faith figured into who Rickey was about.
He was brought up in a very religious family. He never went to games on Sunday. He never traveled with the team so he could have dinner nightly with his family. Branch was very concerned about faith and personal responsibility. And that sustained him I’m sure. He was very vocal about it. But beyond that there was a personal experience that he relates in the film of failing to do as much as could have done at a certain point of his life.
Talk about how you worked with your character’s voice
I think a lot of Rickey’s style of speech was base on where he came from – Ohio. His manner of speech which I think was a bit dramatic I think would come from his experience listening to country preachers. The quality of his language and the quality of his voice were one of the things I felt were important.
You know I walk down the street and people as often as not recognize my voice compared to my face. And I thought it would not be of any value to the film to have Harrison Ford in it in a recognizable way. So I did my character a lot on his voice. There was more audio tape than video of Branch and that was more telling to me in terms of revealing his character, his sense of drama, his courtliness.
Tell us a little more about the experience of working with Chad.
He’s relatively new to the kind of responsibilities faced in this film. I can’t tell you how much of a pleasure it was to work with him as a partner in storytelling. His commitment to the character, to the work. He was always there in a remarkably vulnerable way to the emotions of any scene.
Do you see Jackie as a hero?
You know I don’t deal in heroes. I deal in people, their opportunities, their strengths and values. To me, a hero is a kind of irksome label. When I was making films in the 70s and 80s, people would ask me why was it I always played heroes? And I’d say no, I’m not playing heroes. I’m playing a doctor, or CIA agent, or whatever job the character is. And if you happen to think his behavior was heroic maybe you were out getting popcorn when he was thinking about saving his ass because there is more to it than that.
I think that is what Chad brought to it. He did not play a hero. He played a man in extraordinary circumstances who behaved in a complex, interesting and evocative way and changed history.