Stephen Belber Tapped To Adapt ‘The Needle And The Damage Done’

EXCLUSIVE: Stephen Belber has been hired to script The Needle and The Damage Done for Mike Tollin and Peter Guber which is based on journalist Paul Solotaroff’s article on the opioid epidemic. The project is now being done at USA Networks through UCP. …

EXCLUSIVE: Stephen Belber has been hired to script The Needle and The Damage Done for Mike Tollin and Peter Guber which is based on journalist Paul Solotaroff's article on the opioid epidemic. The project is now being done at USA Networks through UCP. The rights for the project were picked up last fall. The story goes in-depth about the fentanyl epidemic which is currently devastating the suburban communities of New England. The 8,000-word article appeared last October…

Netflix, ESPN Films Team on 10-Part Michael Jordan Doc ‘The Last Dance’ (Video)

ESPN Films and Netflix are teaming up for a 10-part Michael Jordan docuseries titled “The Last Dance,” which will chronicle His Airness and the ’90s Chicago Bulls.

The 10-hour documentary series will be directed by Jason Hehir, who recently did “Andre the Giant” for ex-ESPN employee and “30 for 30” founder Bill Simmons.

That one, a more traditional documentary film in terms of its runtime and format, aired on HBO.

Also Read: Even the ‘Andre the Giant’ Director Doesn’t ‘Buy Into’ a Lot of the Mythology Surrounding Wrestler

“The Last Dance,” produced by Mike Tollin, will be able to draw from more than 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from the team’s last championship run in the 1997-98 season, per Tuesday’s announcement.

The docuseries “will have the full participation of Jordan and other key figures from the Bulls’ championship teams, as well as dozens of other luminaries from basketball and beyond,” ESPN and Netflix said in their joint release.

Watch the trailer above.

Also Read: ‘Andre the Giant’ HBO Doc Couldn’t Fit This Story About WWE Legend Nearly Drowning 2 Rivals

“The Last Dance” is set to premiere in 2019. 

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Ex-ESPN Boss John Skipper Lands New Job

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FiveThirtyEight Leaves ESPN for ABC News

ESPN Films and Netflix are teaming up for a 10-part Michael Jordan docuseries titled “The Last Dance,” which will chronicle His Airness and the ’90s Chicago Bulls.

The 10-hour documentary series will be directed by Jason Hehir, who recently did “Andre the Giant” for ex-ESPN employee and “30 for 30” founder Bill Simmons.

That one, a more traditional documentary film in terms of its runtime and format, aired on HBO.

“The Last Dance,” produced by Mike Tollin, will be able to draw from more than 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from the team’s last championship run in the 1997-98 season, per Tuesday’s announcement.

The docuseries “will have the full participation of Jordan and other key figures from the Bulls’ championship teams, as well as dozens of other luminaries from basketball and beyond,” ESPN and Netflix said in their joint release.

Watch the trailer above.

“The Last Dance” is set to premiere in 2019. 

Related stories from TheWrap:

Ex-ESPN Boss John Skipper Lands New Job

ESPN's New Streaming Service Lands Portion of UFC TV Rights for $150 Million Per Year

FiveThirtyEight Leaves ESPN for ABC News

Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl Win Fast Tracks Movie On Long Snapper/Magician Jon Dorenbos

EXCLUSIVE: Producer Mike Tollin has made numerous films and documentaries on sports figures, but the deal he has just closed with Jon Dorenbos puts on a fast track Tollin’s first about a long snapper who moonlights as a magician. Dorenbos spent most of his 15 seasons on a football field as the long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles, the team that just won the Super Bowl. Freshly retired, Dorenbos is focusing on that second career, after a memorable recent stint on Americ…

EXCLUSIVE: Producer Mike Tollin has made numerous films and documentaries on sports figures, but the deal he has just closed with Jon Dorenbos puts on a fast track Tollin’s first about a long snapper who moonlights as a magician. Dorenbos spent most of his 15 seasons on a football field as the long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles, the team that just won the Super Bowl. Freshly retired, Dorenbos is focusing on that second career, after a memorable recent stint on Americ…

Olympic Channel’s ‘Five Rings Films’ Debuts With Czech Republic’s Heroic Hockey Upset (Video)

After the world has been captivated by the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games, the Olympic Channel is set to premiere its new “Five Rings Films” series looking back at a historic victory from 20 years ago.

“The Nagano Tapes” tells the story of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, when pro hockey players participated in the Games for the first time. It will premiere on the Olympics Channel streaming channel and mobile app on Feb. 28.

Czech Republic’s underdog hockey team defied the odds by winning a gold medal and blowing the world’s dream teams off the ice.

Also Read: Nancy Kerrigan on Why She Hasn’t Seen ‘I, Tonya’: ‘I Was the Victim, That’s My Role in This Whole Thing’

“The Nagano Tapes” is directed by Sundance award-winner Ondřej Hudeček and produced exclusively for the Olympic Channel by Frank Marshall and Mandalay Sports Media (MSM).

“As the world gathers together in PyeongChang for 17 days of peace, sport, culture and education, I am thrilled to be premiering our first film for the Olympic Channel,” Marshall said in a statement. “Athletes are at the heart of the Olympics, so The Nagano Tapes is the perfect story to launch our new series, as it tells the incredible story of how an underdog men’s ice hockey team overcame all odds to win gold. I hope this story and subsequent ones will inspire other athletes to follow their dreams.”

Also Read: Katie Couric to Co-Host NBC Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony

“Some of the world’s greatest moments in all of sports have unfolded during the Olympic Games creating a treasure trove of compelling stories for our Five Rings Films signature documentary series” Mark Parkman, General Manager of the IOC’s global Olympic Channel, added. “The fascinating tale of the men’s ice hockey tournament in Nagano is sure to inspire and entertain audiences around the world through its dramatic storytelling set against the backdrop of the Winter Olympic games.”

Marshall and MSM’s Mike Tollin are executive producers of the five-episode series, “Five Rings Films.”

The Olympic Channel is available worldwide via mobile apps for Android and iOS devices and at olympicchannel.com.

The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games air Feb. 9-25 on NBC.

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Nancy Kerrigan Joins ‘Inside Edition’ as Correspondent for Super Bowl, Olympics

Shaun White’s Road to Olympics After Brutal Crash Chronicled in New Documentary (Video)

Lindsey Vonn Says She Won’t Represent Trump at 2018 Winter Olympics (Video)

After the world has been captivated by the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games, the Olympic Channel is set to premiere its new “Five Rings Films” series looking back at a historic victory from 20 years ago.

“The Nagano Tapes” tells the story of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, when pro hockey players participated in the Games for the first time. It will premiere on the Olympics Channel streaming channel and mobile app on Feb. 28.

Czech Republic’s underdog hockey team defied the odds by winning a gold medal and blowing the world’s dream teams off the ice.

“The Nagano Tapes” is directed by Sundance award-winner Ondřej Hudeček and produced exclusively for the Olympic Channel by Frank Marshall and Mandalay Sports Media (MSM).

“As the world gathers together in PyeongChang for 17 days of peace, sport, culture and education, I am thrilled to be premiering our first film for the Olympic Channel,” Marshall said in a statement. “Athletes are at the heart of the Olympics, so The Nagano Tapes is the perfect story to launch our new series, as it tells the incredible story of how an underdog men’s ice hockey team overcame all odds to win gold. I hope this story and subsequent ones will inspire other athletes to follow their dreams.”

“Some of the world’s greatest moments in all of sports have unfolded during the Olympic Games creating a treasure trove of compelling stories for our Five Rings Films signature documentary series” Mark Parkman, General Manager of the IOC’s global Olympic Channel, added. “The fascinating tale of the men’s ice hockey tournament in Nagano is sure to inspire and entertain audiences around the world through its dramatic storytelling set against the backdrop of the Winter Olympic games.”

Marshall and MSM’s Mike Tollin are executive producers of the five-episode series, “Five Rings Films.”

The Olympic Channel is available worldwide via mobile apps for Android and iOS devices and at olympicchannel.com.

The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games air Feb. 9-25 on NBC.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Nancy Kerrigan Joins 'Inside Edition' as Correspondent for Super Bowl, Olympics

Shaun White's Road to Olympics After Brutal Crash Chronicled in New Documentary (Video)

Lindsey Vonn Says She Won't Represent Trump at 2018 Winter Olympics (Video)

Sports Illustrated TV, Filmmaker Mike Tollin To Release Docu ‘We Town’

Sports Illustrated TV (SI TV) is set to collaborate with award-winning filmmaker and co-chair of Mandalay Sports Media, Mike Tollin, and Gary Cohen‘s Triple Threat TV to produce the documentary, We TownThis will be the first original film for the newly launched streaming network.
“SI TV is a one-stop shop for any sports lover, and We Town is a terrific example of our commitment to bringing premium original programming to the service,” said Josh Oshinsky, VP of…

Sports Illustrated TV (SI TV) is set to collaborate with award-winning filmmaker and co-chair of Mandalay Sports Media, Mike Tollin, and Gary Cohen's Triple Threat TV to produce the documentary, We TownThis will be the first original film for the newly launched streaming network. "SI TV is a one-stop shop for any sports lover, and We Town is a terrific example of our commitment to bringing premium original programming to the service," said Josh Oshinsky, VP of…

MSM Nabs ‘The Needle And The Damage Done’ About Nation’s Opiod Epidemic

EXCLUSIVE: Peter Guber and Mike Tollin‘s MSM has optioned the rights to journalist Paul Solotaroff‘s in-depth account of the fentanyl epidemic which is currently devastating the suburban communities of New England. The article delves into a local DEA bureau chief’s relentless pursuit to fight the war on drugs. Published yesterday in Men’s Journal, the 8,000-word piece is titled “The Needle and the Damage Done.” It will be developed as a one-hour drama designed for cable…

EXCLUSIVE: Peter Guber and Mike Tollin's MSM has optioned the rights to journalist Paul Solotaroff's in-depth account of the fentanyl epidemic which is currently devastating the suburban communities of New England. The article delves into a local DEA bureau chief's relentless pursuit to fight the war on drugs. Published yesterday in Men’s Journal, the 8,000-word piece is titled “The Needle and the Damage Done.” It will be developed as a one-hour drama designed for cable…

Bart & Fleming: How Donald Trump’s Football Fumbles Killed USFL; Why The Movie Star Is Dying; Studio Marketing Moves

Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades aDaily Variety. In this occasional column, two old friends get together and grind their axes, mostly on the movie business.
FLEMING: Could President Trump really be this tone deaf? After antagonizing the paranoid Sony-hacking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he starts the battle that shook up football Sunday throughout the National Football League. It’s hard to imagine the president could be this blissfully…

Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades aDaily Variety. In this occasional column, two old friends get together and grind their axes, mostly on the movie business. FLEMING: Could President Trump really be this tone deaf? After antagonizing the paranoid Sony-hacking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he starts the battle that shook up football Sunday throughout the National Football League. It's hard to imagine the president could be this blissfully…

ESPN ’30 for 30′: ‘Morningside 5’ Revisits LA High School Basketball Stars 25 Years Later

Coming off the network’s first Oscar win for “OJ: Made in America,” ESPN’s latest “30 for 30” film delves into Los Angeles sports history once again.

Premiering Tuesday night, “Morningside 5” is a fresh, new story for most viewers, but it’s well-traveled ground for filmmaker Mike Tollin, who first filmed five high school basketball stars — Stais Boseman, Dwight Curry, Corey Saffold, Dominic Ellison and Sean Harris — from Inglewood, California, back in 1992.

Then new to Hollywood himself, documentary filmmaker Tollin teamed up with “Head of the Class” actor Brian Robbins to capture the essence of inner city high school basketball in their debut sports documentary.

“Morningside High had an esteemed reputation for basketball excellence and had just won the state basketball title, plus their five pre-eminent players were all returning for their senior years,” Tollin told TheWrap.

Also Read: ESPN’s Latest ’30 for 30′ Film Spotlights Brilliant But Troubled Soccer Star George Best

Seemingly destined to be the Michael Jordans of their era, the five players “all imagined that they would be receiving full scholarships to Division 1 schools to play basketball — that was their dream,” he added.

But life and sports often don’t turn out the way we plan …

After chronicling their senior year in 1993’s “Hardwood Dreams,” Tollin — who’s also the co-founder of Mandalay Sports Media — went on to direct and produce feature films such as “Varsity Blues” and “Radio,” plus TV hits including “Smallville,” “One Tree Hill” and “Arli$$,” but fate would always draw him back to Morningside.

He revisited the former star players 10 years later and now 25 years on, he tells the latest chapter in their life stories for “30 for 30,” following the success and failures they’ve faced since first hitting hoops on that Inglewood court.

“All but one of them has moved away from basketball and they’re all just finding their way in the world,” Tollin told TheWrap. “What I love about this film is it isn’t really a story of triumph or tragedy in any great measure — it is a film about real lives.”

See the full interview with Tollin below.

TheWrap: How did you first get involved with the kids at Morningside High?
Mike Tollin: I was always a documentary guy at heart, and when I moved to L.A. I had an idea to try and find an inner city high school in which the profile was largely related to athletic achievement in the face of academic underachievement. “Hoop Dreams” was happening at the exact same time (unbeknown to us) and this behemoth was about to change the sports media landscape as we knew it, but we went merrily along our way and started digging around the Los Angeles inner city schools and found this school in Inglewood that had an esteemed reputation for basketball excellence and had just won the state basketball title, plus their five pre-eminent players were all returning for their senior years … It was kind of set up perfectly.

All five of the returning starters imagined they would be receiving full scholarships to Division 1 schools to play basketball — that was their dream.

How deeply involved in their lives did you become while filming the initial doc, “Hardwood Dreams”?
We spent most of the school year there in classrooms, at practice, getting to know the families and going to the games. Not surprisingly, a lot of surprises unfolded. It didn’t go exactly according to the textbook plan for their senior year.

Also Read: Veteran Kirstie Ennis Makes Historic Summit Climb for Heroes Project

Did you always think that you’d continue to follow their story?
At the time, I was very aware of a British film called “7 Up” that Michael Apted made in 1964, which started out following a group of children and then continued to check in with them every seven years. They are now working on “63 Up.” I thought this story might lend itself to that sort of serialized treatment over time.

What kind of impact did “Hardwood Dreams” have when it was released in 1993?
The first film got into Sundance, won some awards, was bought by Fox, we got Wesley Snipes to narrate … it kind of became our calling card and it was the one that convinced Brian and me to become partners. We stayed in touch with those guys and several of them did go on to play major college basketball. When it got to the 10 years later mark, we found them and filmed all over again.

Considering everything else you’ve achieved in your career since, how did you end back at Morningside?
I was lucky enough to be a part of the founding production team for “30 for 30” about 10 years ago. The idea was (and still is) to encourage filmmakers to tell first-person stories, to really exercise their vision and address their own passions. I got very close with [“30 for 30” co-creator] Connor Schell, and he was always encouraging me to bring something that was really my film, that I was personally attached to and would direct. This was when the 20th reunion at Morningside was coming up in 2013.

I said ‘I am only going to do this if I can get all five of them,’ and they kind of banded together. The star player had moved to a little town in Minnesota, all but one had moved away from basketball and they were just finding their way in the world. What I love about this film is it isn’t really a story of triumph or tragedy in any great measure — it is a film about real lives. They had gone on such different paths, but basketball continued to play some part in all of their lives.

On the surface, the film is about sports, but it is much deeper and really about other things.

Also Read: Stephanie McMahon, Mark Giordano Among Winners at ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards

Was it hard to introduce new viewers to what is a very familiar story to you?  
The original film isn’t available anymore — you can’t even find it on video or online — which I think, ultimately, works in our favor for this as people are coming to it fresh. That’s why we presented it as we did, where you see an abridged version of the first two films to really set up where they are today.

What has the initial response been so far?
We’ve had a couple of screenings — people really dug in and got on for the ride. They’re not looking for that big trailer moment but got into discovering these five characters. Byron Scott and Paul Pierce — two former NBA stars who grew up in Inglewood — came out at the L.A. screening, and to hear them gush about these guys and call them the heroes of Inglewood “because they made lives for themselves and turned around the cycle of absentee fatherhood in the inner city” made us all feel so good. Ratings and box office records come and go, but being able to make a change is what makes it worth while.

Also Read: Why OJ Simpson Will Be Granted Parole This Week

Will there be another Morningside installment in the future?
I feel like I am in it for life. I’ve got at least two more of these in me.

In the meantime, what is next for Mandalay Sports Media?
We are deeply involved in the feature film slat and are hoping our next project will be an adaptation of “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach with IME. I never thought it was possible to get the rights to the book, then we waited five years and it came back to us. We are absolutely thrilled at the opportunity. We are still working on a draft of the script and haven’t cast it yet, but by the end of the summer, we’ll be elbow deep into it.

The headmaster (Guert Affenlight) is kind of the lead character, we haven’t gone out to anyone yet. That is a real, bona fide leading man role.

“Morningside 5” premieres Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Related stories from TheWrap:

ESPN’s Latest ’30 for 30′ Film Spotlights Brilliant But Troubled Soccer Star George Best

ESPN ’30 for 30′ EP Believes ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’ Will Reunite One Day

ESPN to Launch ’30 for 30′ Podcasts in 2017

Coming off the network’s first Oscar win for “OJ: Made in America,” ESPN’s latest “30 for 30” film delves into Los Angeles sports history once again.

Premiering Tuesday night, “Morningside 5” is a fresh, new story for most viewers, but it’s well-traveled ground for filmmaker Mike Tollin, who first filmed five high school basketball stars — Stais Boseman, Dwight Curry, Corey Saffold, Dominic Ellison and Sean Harris — from Inglewood, California, back in 1992.

Then new to Hollywood himself, documentary filmmaker Tollin teamed up with “Head of the Class” actor Brian Robbins to capture the essence of inner city high school basketball in their debut sports documentary.

“Morningside High had an esteemed reputation for basketball excellence and had just won the state basketball title, plus their five pre-eminent players were all returning for their senior years,” Tollin told TheWrap.

Seemingly destined to be the Michael Jordans of their era, the five players “all imagined that they would be receiving full scholarships to Division 1 schools to play basketball — that was their dream,” he added.

But life and sports often don’t turn out the way we plan …

After chronicling their senior year in 1993’s “Hardwood Dreams,” Tollin — who’s also the co-founder of Mandalay Sports Media — went on to direct and produce feature films such as “Varsity Blues” and “Radio,” plus TV hits including “Smallville,” “One Tree Hill” and “Arli$$,” but fate would always draw him back to Morningside.

He revisited the former star players 10 years later and now 25 years on, he tells the latest chapter in their life stories for “30 for 30,” following the success and failures they’ve faced since first hitting hoops on that Inglewood court.

“All but one of them has moved away from basketball and they’re all just finding their way in the world,” Tollin told TheWrap. “What I love about this film is it isn’t really a story of triumph or tragedy in any great measure — it is a film about real lives.”

See the full interview with Tollin below.

TheWrap: How did you first get involved with the kids at Morningside High?
Mike Tollin: I was always a documentary guy at heart, and when I moved to L.A. I had an idea to try and find an inner city high school in which the profile was largely related to athletic achievement in the face of academic underachievement. “Hoop Dreams” was happening at the exact same time (unbeknown to us) and this behemoth was about to change the sports media landscape as we knew it, but we went merrily along our way and started digging around the Los Angeles inner city schools and found this school in Inglewood that had an esteemed reputation for basketball excellence and had just won the state basketball title, plus their five pre-eminent players were all returning for their senior years … It was kind of set up perfectly.

All five of the returning starters imagined they would be receiving full scholarships to Division 1 schools to play basketball — that was their dream.

How deeply involved in their lives did you become while filming the initial doc, “Hardwood Dreams”?
We spent most of the school year there in classrooms, at practice, getting to know the families and going to the games. Not surprisingly, a lot of surprises unfolded. It didn’t go exactly according to the textbook plan for their senior year.

Did you always think that you’d continue to follow their story?
At the time, I was very aware of a British film called “7 Up” that Michael Apted made in 1964, which started out following a group of children and then continued to check in with them every seven years. They are now working on “63 Up.” I thought this story might lend itself to that sort of serialized treatment over time.

What kind of impact did “Hardwood Dreams” have when it was released in 1993?
The first film got into Sundance, won some awards, was bought by Fox, we got Wesley Snipes to narrate … it kind of became our calling card and it was the one that convinced Brian and me to become partners. We stayed in touch with those guys and several of them did go on to play major college basketball. When it got to the 10 years later mark, we found them and filmed all over again.

Considering everything else you’ve achieved in your career since, how did you end back at Morningside?
I was lucky enough to be a part of the founding production team for “30 for 30” about 10 years ago. The idea was (and still is) to encourage filmmakers to tell first-person stories, to really exercise their vision and address their own passions. I got very close with [“30 for 30” co-creator] Connor Schell, and he was always encouraging me to bring something that was really my film, that I was personally attached to and would direct. This was when the 20th reunion at Morningside was coming up in 2013.

I said ‘I am only going to do this if I can get all five of them,’ and they kind of banded together. The star player had moved to a little town in Minnesota, all but one had moved away from basketball and they were just finding their way in the world. What I love about this film is it isn’t really a story of triumph or tragedy in any great measure — it is a film about real lives. They had gone on such different paths, but basketball continued to play some part in all of their lives.

On the surface, the film is about sports, but it is much deeper and really about other things.

Was it hard to introduce new viewers to what is a very familiar story to you?  
The original film isn’t available anymore — you can’t even find it on video or online — which I think, ultimately, works in our favor for this as people are coming to it fresh. That’s why we presented it as we did, where you see an abridged version of the first two films to really set up where they are today.

What has the initial response been so far?
We’ve had a couple of screenings — people really dug in and got on for the ride. They’re not looking for that big trailer moment but got into discovering these five characters. Byron Scott and Paul Pierce — two former NBA stars who grew up in Inglewood — came out at the L.A. screening, and to hear them gush about these guys and call them the heroes of Inglewood “because they made lives for themselves and turned around the cycle of absentee fatherhood in the inner city” made us all feel so good. Ratings and box office records come and go, but being able to make a change is what makes it worth while.

Will there be another Morningside installment in the future?
I feel like I am in it for life. I’ve got at least two more of these in me.

In the meantime, what is next for Mandalay Sports Media?
We are deeply involved in the feature film slat and are hoping our next project will be an adaptation of “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach with IME. I never thought it was possible to get the rights to the book, then we waited five years and it came back to us. We are absolutely thrilled at the opportunity. We are still working on a draft of the script and haven’t cast it yet, but by the end of the summer, we’ll be elbow deep into it.

The headmaster (Guert Affenlight) is kind of the lead character, we haven’t gone out to anyone yet. That is a real, bona fide leading man role.

“Morningside 5” premieres Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Related stories from TheWrap:

ESPN's Latest '30 for 30' Film Spotlights Brilliant But Troubled Soccer Star George Best

ESPN '30 for 30' EP Believes 'Mike and the Mad Dog' Will Reunite One Day

ESPN to Launch '30 for 30' Podcasts in 2017