30 For 30: Soccer Stories Kicks Off April 15th

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

April 15th is perhaps the single most hated day of the year every year. It is the deadline to file taxes on time. This year however, ESPN and ESPN Films are giving everyone reason to be happy on April 15th. That’s because ESPN Films will present the latest addition to its award-winning 30 for 30 film series as a reward for enduring tax day.

ESPN Films will present Hillsborough, the first in the 30 for 30: Soccer Stories series, on April 15th at 8pm ET on ESPN.  Hillsborough examines what is the single worst sporting disaster in the history of the United Kingdom. The film examines the events in the years, months, weeks, and days leading up to the tragedy, which left ninety-six people dead and hundreds more injured at an FA Cup Semifinal matchup between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England.

Hillsborough tells the story of the tragedy through first-hand accounts of fans in attendance and from police officers. Many of those that appeared on camera to share their stories did so for the first time since the horrific events of that day a quarter of a century ago. Many of those interviewed for Hillsborough are still seeking justice for their loved ones to this day.

ESPN Films’ 30 for 30: Soccer Stories is a mix of feature-length films and 30-minute long documentary films promoting ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The series of films is presented by an award-winning group of filmmakers. It tells stories from around the world of soccer both from the United States and around the world. The complete schedule of films in ESPN Films’ is available online at http://es.pn/1aOGWre. More information on ESPN Films’ 30 for 30: Soccer Stories is available online at http://espn.go.com/30for30/soccer.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Films’ Latest Release Debuts April 17th

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN Films debuts the latest release in its 30 for 30 series next month.

Bad Boys, the latest film from ESPN Films’ hit series, premieres Thursday, April 17th at 8pm ET on ESPN.  The film was produced by NBA Entertainment and helmed by Zak Levitt.  The film’s story centers on the Detroit Pistons’ heyday of the late 80s and early 90s.  The Pistons of the 80s and 90s was one of those teams that fans either loved or hated.  There was no in between for this squad.  Those that loved the team called it a group of men that wasn’t afraid to work hard and really get in the paint.  It was a team, to those fans, that was afraid of no one.  That same win at all costs mentality is also what led many to despise the team.

The film highlights the highs and lows of the team’s heyday through interviews with the likes of Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Adrian Dantley, and Mark Aguirre among others.  The interviews give viewers a more personal look at what made the team one of the league’s most talked about. Also included are personal insights from some of the biggest names to face Detroit during the late 80s and early 90s. Those names include: Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Kevin McHale, Dominique Wilkins, and James Worthy.  Former NBA Commissioner David Stern also shares his thoughts on what made the team such a lightning rod in the league at that time.

The premiere of Bad Boys will be followed immediately by Grantland’s Bad Boys Remix, a special one-hour presentation featuring Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose.  The pair will be joined by Isiah Thomas and Doug Collins to discuss the film.  The pair will also share more thoughts on the highs and lows of the Pistons.  Along with their appearance on Grantland’s Bad Boys Remix, Thomas and Collins will be part of Grantland’s “Detroit Week” package, kicking off April 14th.  Grantland’s “Detroit Week” will include written features about the city of Detroit and its history as well as Detroit-themed podcasts on the Grantland Network.

More information on ESPN Films and its hit 30 for 30 series is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30, http://twitter.com/30for30, and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Championship Week Presented By Dick’s Sporting Goods Tips Off This Weekend

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Things are heating up in the world of NCAA basketball.  And as things start to get hot, so is ESPN’s coverage of college basketball.  Beginning Friday, March 7th, ESPN’s Championship Week Presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods will present ninety-two men’s college basketball conference tournament games from twenty-three conferences across the ESPN family of networks.

ESPN’s Championship Week Presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods starts Friday, March 7th with nine games from the Big South, Ohio Valley, and Southern Conference tournaments.  Those games will be broadcast online on ESPNU and ESPN3.   It all winds down on Sunday, March 16th with the title games for the ACC, Sun Belt, and SEC Championships.  The ACC Championship will air on ESPN, while the Sun Belt and SEC Championship games will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN respectively at 1pm ET and 3:15pm ET.

As an added bonus for fans, ESPN Films will debut the latest addition to its 30 for 30 series Requiem for the BIG EAST Sunday, March 16th at 9pm ET.  The film, directed by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ezra Edelman, follows the rise and eventual move of the Big East conference.  The story is told thanks in large part to interviews with Big East coaches such as Jim Boeheim, Lou Carnesecca, Rick Pitino and John Thompson, former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese, and former Big East standouts Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Ed Pinckney.

Along with the new 30 for 30 film, the ESPN family of networks will also offer special coverage on ESPN Radio, WatchESPN, and ESPN.com.  ESPN’s SportsCenter will also offer a special two-hour broadcast of its special Bracketology Presented by Staples at 7pm ET and again at 9pm ET on ESPN following the conclusion of the SEC Championship.

The complete schedule for ESPN’s Championship Week Presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods is listed below.

                                    Championship Week Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods Schedule

Date Network Time (ET) Game / Commentators Site
Fri 3/7 ESPN3 11 a.m. Southern Conference Tournament: First Round

Darren Goldwater & Dean Keender

Asheville, N.C.
ESPN3 Noon Big South Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #1

Matt Hogue & Nate Ross

Myrtle Beach, S.C.
ESPN3 1:30 p.m. Southern Conference Tournament: First Round

Darren Goldwater & Dean Keender

Asheville, N.C.
ESPN3 2 p.m. Big South Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #2

Matt Hogue & Nate Ross

Myrtle Beach, S.C.
ESPN3 4:30 p.m. Southern Conference Tournament: First Round

Darren Goldwater & Dean Keender

Asheville, N.C.
ESPN3 6 p.m. Big South Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #3

Patrick Kinas & Ralph Patterson

Myrtle Beach, S.C.
ESPNU 7:30 p.m. Ohio Valley Conference Tournament: Semifinal #1

Rich Hollenberg & Adrian Branch

Nashville, Tenn.
ESPN3 8 p.m. Big South Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #4

Patrick Kinas & Ralph Patterson

Myrtle Beach, S.C.
ESPNU 9:30 p.m. Ohio Valley Conference Tournament: Semifinal #2

Rich Hollenberg & Adrian Branch

Nashville, Tenn.
Sat, 3/8 ESPN3 Noon Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #1

Doug Sherman & Rob Kennedy

Springfield, Mass.
ESPN3 Noon America East Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #1

Eric Frede & Frank Sullivan

Albany, N.Y.
ESPN3 Noon Big South Conference Tournament: Semifinal #1

Patrick Kinas & Ralph Patterson

Myrtle Beach, S.C.
ESPN3 Noon Southern Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #1

Darren Goldwater & Dean Keender

Asheville, N.C.
ESPN3 2 p.m. Big South Conference Tournament: Semifinal #2

Patrick Kinas & Ralph Patterson

Myrtle Beach, S.C.
ESPN3 2 p.m. America East Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #2

Eric Frede & Frank Sullivan

Albany, N.Y.
ESPN3 2:30 p.m. Southern Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #2

Darren Goldwater & Dean Keender

Asheville, N.C.
ESPN3 2:30 p.m. Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #2

Doug Sherman & Rob Kennedy

Springfield, Mass.
ESPN3 6 p.m. Southern Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #3

Darren Goldwater & Dean Keender

Asheville, N.C.
ESPN3 6 p.m. America East Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #3

Eric Frede & Frank Sullivan

Albany, N.Y.
ESPN3 6:30 p.m. Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #3

Doug Sherman & Rob Kennedy

Springfield, Mass.
ESPN2 7 p.m. Ohio Valley Conference: Championship

Rich Hollenberg & Adrian Branch

Nashville, Tenn.
ESPN3 7 p.m. Horizon League Tournament: Semifinal #1 *

Jim Barbar & Malcolm Huckaby

Green Bay, Wis.
ESPN3 8 p.m. America East Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #4

Eric Frede & Frank Sullivan

Albany, N.Y.
ESPN3 8:30 p.m. Southern Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #4

Darren Goldwater & Dean Keender

Asheville, N.C.
ESPN2 9 p.m. West Coast Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #3

Dave Flemming & Sean Farnham

Las Vegas, Nev.
ESPN3 9 p.m. Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #4

Doug Sherman & Rob Kennedy

Springfield, Mass.
ESPNU 9:30 p.m. Horizon League Tournament: Semifinal #2

Jim Barbar & Malcolm Huckaby

Green Bay, Wis.
ESPN2 11 p.m. West Coast Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #4

Dave Flemming & Sean Farnham

Las Vegas, Nev.
Sun 3/9 ESPN2 Noon Big South Tournament: Championship

Roy Philpott & Paul Biancardi

Myrtle Beach, S.C.
ESPN2 2 p.m. Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament: Championship

Jason Benetti & Cory Alexander

TBD
ESPN3 4:30 p.m. Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament: Semifinal #1

Doug Sherman & Rob Kennedy

Springfield, Mass.
ESPN3 5 p.m. America East Conference Tournament: Semifinal #1

Eric Frede & Frank Sullivan

Albany, N.Y.
ESPN3 7 p.m. Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament: Semifinal #2

Doug Sherman & Rob Kennedy

Springfield, Mass.
ESPN3 7:30 p.m. America East Conference Tournament: Semifinal #2

Eric Frede & Frank Sullivan

Albany, N.Y.
Mon 3/10 ESPN2 7 p.m. Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament: Championship

Doug Sherman & Tim Welsh

Springfield, Mass.
ESPN 9 p.m. West Coast Conference Tournament: Semifinal #1

Dave Flemming & Sean Farnham

Las Vegas, Nev.
ESPN2 9 p.m. Southern Conference Tournament: Championship

Adam Amin & Mark Adams

Asheville, N.C.
ESPN2 11:30 p.m. West Coast Conference Tournament: Semifinal #2

Dave Flemming & Sean Farnham

Las Vegas, Nev.
Tue 3/11 ESPN 7 p.m. Horizon League Tournament: Championship

Bob Wischusen & TBD

TBD
ESPN2 7 p.m. Northeast Conference Tournament: Championship

Mike Crispino & Miles Simon

TBD
ESPN 9 p.m. West Coast Conference Tournament: Championship

Dave Flemming & Sean Farnham

Las Vegas, Nev.
ESPN2 9 p.m. Summit League Tournament: Championship

Clay Matvick & Darrin Horn

Sioux Falls, S.D.
Wed 3/12 ESPN2 1 p.m. ACC Tournament: First Round #1

Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPN2 3 p.m. ACC Tournament: First Round #2

Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPN2 7 p.m. ACC Tournament: First Round #3

Dan Shulman, Sean Farnham & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPNU 7 p.m. American Men’s Basketball Championship: First Round #1

Mike Patrick & Len Elmore

Memphis, Tenn.
ESPN2 9:30 p.m. American Men’s Basketball Championship: First Round #2

Dave O’Brien & Doris Burke

Memphis, Tenn.
Thu 3/13 ESPN Noon ACC Tournament: Second Round #1

Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPN2 12:30 p.m. Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship: Quarterfinal #1

Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla & Holly Rowe

Kansas City, Mo.
ESPNU 1 p.m. American Men’s Basketball Championship: Quarterfinal #1

Mike Patrick, Len Elmore & Andy Katz

Memphis, Tenn.
ESPN 2 p.m. ACC Tournament: Second Round #2

Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPN2 2:30 p.m. Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship: Quarterfinal #2

Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla & Holly Rowe

Kansas City, Mo.
ESPNU 3 p.m. American Men’s Basketball Championship: Quarterfinal #2

Mike Patrick, Len Elmore & Andy Katz

Memphis, Tenn.
ESPN2 6:30 p.m. Big Ten Conference Tournament: First Round #3

Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich & Allison Williams

Indianapolis, Ind.
ESPN 7 p.m. ACC Tournament: Second Round #3

Dan Shulman, Sean Farnham & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPNU 7 p.m. American Men’s Basketball Championship: Quarterfinal #3

Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke & Andy Katz

Memphis, Tenn.
ESPN2 8:30 p.m. Big Ten Conference Tournament: First Round #4

Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich & Allison Williams

Indianapolis, Ind.
ESPN 9 p.m. ACC Tournament: Second Round #4

Dan Shulman, Sean Farnham & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPNU 9 p.m. American Men’s Basketball Championship: Quarterfinal #4

Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke & Andy Katz

Memphis, Tenn.
Fri 3/14 ESPN or ESPN2 Noon Big Ten Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #1

Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich & Allison Williams

Indianapolis, Ind.
ESPN or ESPN2 Noon ACC Tournament: Quarterfinal #1

Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPNU 1 p.m. SEC Tournament: Quarterfinal #1

Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes & Shannon Spake

Atlanta, Ga.
ESPN or ESPN2 2:30 p.m. Big Ten Conference Tournament: Quarterfinal #2

Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich & Allison Williams

Indianapolis, Ind.
ESPN or ESPN2 2:30 p.m. ACC Tournament: Quarterfinal #2

Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPNU 3 p.m. SEC Tournament: Quarterfinal #2

Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes & Shannon Spake

Atlanta, Ga.
ESPN3 6 p.m. Southland Conference Tournament: Semifinal #1 Katy, Texas
ESPN or ESPN2 7 p.m. ACC Tournament: Quarterfinal #3

Dan Shulman, Sean Farnham & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPN or ESPN2 7 p.m. American Men’s Basketball Championship: Semifinal #1

Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke & Andy Katz

Memphis, Tenn.
ESPNU ^ 7 p.m. Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship: Semifinal #1

Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla & Holly Rowe

Kansas City, Mo.
ESPN3 8:30 p.m. Southland Conference Tournament: Semifinal #2 Katy, Texas
ESPN or ESPN2 9:30 p.m. ACC Tournament: Quarterfinal #4

Dan Shulman, Sean Farnham & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPN or ESPN2 9:30 p.m. American Men’s Basketball Championship: Semifinal #2

Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke & Andy Katz

Memphis, Tenn.
ESPNU ^ 9:30 p.m. Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship: Semifinal #2

Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla & Holly Rowe

Kansas City, Mo.
Sat 3/15 ESPNU 12 a.m. Big West Conference Tournament: Semifinal #2

Mark Jones & Miles Simon

Anaheim, Calif.
ESPNU 2 a.m. Big West Conference Tournament: Semifinal #1 **

Mark Jones & Miles Simon

Anaheim, Calif.
ESPN2 11:30 a.m. America East Conference Tournament: Championship

Bob Picozzi & Tim Welsh

TBD
ESPN 1 p.m. ACC Tournament: Semifinal #1

Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale or Jay Bilas & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ABC 1 p.m. SEC Tournament: Semifinal #1

Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes & Shannon Spake

Atlanta, Ga.
ESPN 3 p.m. ACC Tournament: Semifinal #2

Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale or Jay Bilas & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ABC 3 p.m. SEC Tournament: Semifinal #2

Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes & Shannon Spake

Atlanta, Ga.
ESPN2 4:30 p.m. Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament: Championship

Mark Neely & Jarron Collins

Houston, Texas
ESPN 6 p.m. American Men’s Basketball Championship: Championship

Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke & Andy Katz

Memphis, Tenn.
ESPNU 6 p.m. Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament: Championship

Tom Hart & Stan Lewter

Norfolk, Va.
ESPN2 6:30 p.m. Mid-American Conference Tournament: Championship

Bob Wischusen & LaPhonso Ellis

Cleveland, Ohio
ESPNU 8 p.m. Big Sky Conference Tournament: Championship

Roxy Bernstein & Corey Williams

Ogden, Texas
ESPN2 8:30 p.m. Southland Conference Tournament: Championship

Carter Blackburn & Stephen Howard

Katy, Texas
ESPN 9 p.m. Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship: Championship

Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla & Holly Rowe

Kansas City, Mo.
ESPNU 10 p.m. Western Athletic Conference Tournament: Championship

Steve Quis & Jon Crispin

Las Vegas, Nev.
ESPN2 10:30 p.m. Big West Conference Tournament: Championship

Mark Jones & Miles Simon

Anaheim, Calif.
Sun 3/16 ESPN 1 p.m. ACC Tournament: Championship

Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale & Jeannine Edwards

Greensboro, N.C.
ESPN2 1 p.m. Sun Belt Conference Tournament: Championship

Rich Hollenberg & Mark Adams

New Orleans, La.
ESPN 3:15 p.m. SEC Tournament: Championship

Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes & Shannon Spake

Atlanta, Ga.

More information on Championship Week Presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods is available online at http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Films Debuts Latest Addition To ’30 for 30 Shorts’ Series

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

New York Yankees star Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez recently announced to the world that he was dropping his lawsuit against Major League Baseball linked his suspension from Major League Baseball.  Now, he is the focus of the latest installment in ESPN’s 30 for 30 Shorts series.

Rodriguez is the focal point of the new 30 for 30 short The Deal.  The latest short from ESPN Films’ series of shorts examines “A-Rod’s” trade from the Texas Rangers and how he almost ended up in red and grey instead of pinstripes.  The new short debuted this week at Grantland.com.  It can be viewed now via Grantland.com at http://grantland.com/features/30-for-30-shorts-the-deal/.  It was produced and directed by Nick and Colin Barnicle.  The pair incorporated interviews with the likes of Larry Lucchino, Brian Cashman, John Hart and Theo Epstein to illustrate the story.  It shows how much changed over the course of less than two days for not just Rodriguez, but also for both the Red Sox and Yankees.

Along with its online showing, The Deal will also be broadcast this Sunday night, Feb. 16th at 8pm on ESPN.  The broadcast comes on the tenth anniversary of the still discussed trade deal.  Other films in the 30 for 30 shorts are available for viewing online now at http://grantland.com/contributors/espn-films/.

More information on ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 Shorts and 30 for 30 is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Films’ Latest 30 For 30 Installment Deserves Its Own Medal

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The Price of Gold, ESPN Film’s latest release in its award-winning 30 for 30 series, is an interesting look at the events leading up to and after the now infamous attack on figure skating star Nancy Kerrigan.  The film, directed by Nanette Burstein, will keep viewers fully engaged throughout its near ninety-minute run time.  That is because of its central story.  The central story is one of Harding as an underdog that came from nothing to surprise everyone in what was essentially a world reserved for those in the upper class only to lose it all at the height of her career.  Along the way, Harding pleads her case, claiming that she had nothing to do with ex-husband Jeff Gillooly’s attack on Nancy Kerrigan.  She claims in her argument that she was just as much a victim as Kerrigan, denying she had any involvement in the scandal.  The story itself is so gripping that even those that might not be figure skating fans will want to listen to this polarizing figure tell her story.  This is the center of what makes The Price of Gold well worth the watch.  The classic footage culled to flesh out the story makes the presentation all the richer.  Vintage newscasts, interviews with a younger Tonya Harding, and footage of both Harding and Kerrigan throughout the scandal help to bring the story even more full circle.  Interviews with those closest to the scandal bring everything full circle.  Interestingly enough, the one person that audiences would want to hear from—Kerrigan—don’t hear from.  That’s because she turned down requests to be interviewed for the film.  But her husband and those close to her explain why she didn’t want to be interviewed.  It makes the entire story that much more griping and that much more another wonderful addition to ESPN Films’ award-winning series.

The central point of The Price of Gold is the story itself.  The story presented in this film is the classic rise and fall of an unexpected star.  In this case, the unexpected star was one Tonya Harding.  Harding’s story starts with a young woman that wanted everything because she came from nothing.  She felt that she had something to prove, and that put a chip on her shoulder.  Harding’s problem is that she got everything that she wanted and more.  The result would be her ultimate downfall.  That desire to have everything led to being surrounded and hounded day in and day out by the media machine after the attack on Kerrigan.  There’s no disagreeing with her comments concerning the media machine’s cold blooded nature.  It’s amazing to learn that the media was so hungry for pictures of and reactions from her that they would even get a tow company to try and take her truck just to lure her out for reactions.  She is so convincing in her one-on-one interviews that one can’t help but wonder if indeed she didn’t have anything to do with the attack.  Especially considering the post-film follow-up on where Jeff Gillooly is today, one can’t help but think that maybe Gillooly did what he did to Kerrigan of his own volition.  That’s not to say that he did by any means.  But it definitely raises the possibility of it being the case.  Her personal story intertwined with the scandal that rose from that personal story by themselves are reason enough for viewers to watch this latest addition to the 30 for 30 series.  The positives don’t end here, either.  The vintage footage of a young Tonya Harding, the vintage newscasts, and footage of both Harding and Kerrigan through it all make the story all the richer.  They collectively are the next part of what makes this film well worth the watch.

The story of Tonya Harding’s unlikely rise and then fall from grace is the kind of thing one only expects in major movies.  But it is just as gripping on the small screen, as viewers will see here.  That story is made all the richer thanks to the vintage footage of a much younger Tonya Harding as well as the classic news footage that documented her rise and fall (and that likely helped contribute to it, too).  That footage set next to the footage of both her and competitor Nancy Kerrigan training and competing on the ice brings the story to a whole different level.  The footage of the two young women practicing and competing shows Harding as a woman with one thing in mind.  That one thing was winning.  Her reactions to the media’s unending assaults will actually have viewers contemplating whether or not she really played a role in the attack on Kerrigan.  It’s almost as if the media had painted her to be the villain and even wanted her to be the villain.  Her behavior towards the media makes it seem like she might not have actually taken part in the attack.  As vehemently as she denied the accusations, one can’t help but wonder if Gillooly did what he did to make her look like a villain.  It’s one more important part of the whole that is this film.  And it’s not all that makes it so watchable, either. 

So much work went into bringing The Price of Gold come to life.  Just as much went into making it the interesting film that it is even for those that are not fans of the figure skating world.  As is noted in the film’s included interviews, this story is the type of thing that one only expects from soap operas on television.  This story is its very own soap opera.  And making it even more gripping is the fact that Nancy Kerrigan declined to be interviewed for the film.  This brings everything full circle.  Audiences get to hear Tonya Harding’s side of the story.  But the only times that they hear from Kerrigan is from the vintage practice and competition footage.  Oddly enough, everything that Harding states in her interviews about Kerrigan is backed up by the included footage.  It’ll leave viewers scratching their heads even more.  That combined with Harding’s vehement denial of being involved in the attack makes this more than just a soap opera, but a crime drama of sorts that everyone will be talking about the next day.  The Price of Gold airs tonight on ESPN at 9pm ET.  More information on this and other installments in ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.                    

Kerrigan, Harding Focus Of Latest Film From ESPN’s 30 For 30 Series

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The latest presentation from ESPN Films’ award-winning 30 for 30 series debuts this Thursday, January 16thThe Price of Gold centers on the 1994 attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan that would affect her career forever.  Two decades later, the attack remains one of the sports world’s most talked about controversies.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding were the figure skating world’s most talked about names in the Lillehammer Winter Olympics.  Both women were seen as potential medal winners.  But the brazen attack on Kerrigan by Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, would change all of that.  Gillooly attacked Kerrigan, hitting her on the knee, leaving her writhing in pain.  It also meant the end of Kerrigan’s medal hopes that year and potentially worse.  An investigation by authorities would later reveal that the attack on Kerrigan was planned and that all leads pointed right to Kerrigan’s Olympic rival as the mastermind of the whole thing.  Twenty years after the now infamous attack on Kerrigan, ESPN Films examines the attack in The Price of Gold.  The film was directed by award-winning filmmaker Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture, American Teen, On The Ropes).  It will air Thursday night at 9pm ET on ESPN.  It will also air on ABC this Saturday, January 18th at 4pm ET and will be re-broadcast on ESPN this Sunday night at 7:30pm.  More information on this film and others from ESPN Films is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s FIFA World Cup Coverage To Include Special 30 for 30 Series

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN Films will debut a new addition to its hugely popular 30 for 30 film series.  The new addition, 30 for 30: Soccer Stories will premiere this April.  The new series is part of The Worldwide Leader In Sports’ coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament.  The extensive soccer-centered series will include two feature-length films, six half-hour length films, and ten vignettes.  Each of the ten vignettes will feature Brazil’s rich culture and will be featured throughout ESPN’s coverage of the annual tournament.

Connor Schell, VP of ESPN Films and Original Content, discussed the announcement.  He explained the decision to expand the network’s award-winning series and the decision on the timing of the expansion.  “With ESPN being the home of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we know that sports fans will be looking forward to high quality content focused on what is perhaps the world’s most revered sport,” he said.  “We feel this is the perfect time to expand upon the success of our30 for 30 series by focusing this collection on some of the incredible stories of soccer’s legendary past.”

Hillsborough and White, Blue and White are at the center of ESPN Films’ new soccer-centered 30 for 30 spinoff.  The first of the films examines the tragic events of April 15, 1989 in Sheffield, England.  It was on that day that almost one hundred people were killed and nearly eight hundred injured in a “human crush” at Hillsborough.  Three-thousand soccer fans made their way into an area that had been reserved for standing.  The problem is that the capacity of the area in question was less than half the number of people that tried to make their way in.  What happened after stands today as the worst disaster in British football history.  The end result of the tragedy was a dramatic change in British football’s facilities.  The changes in question would lead to the rise of what is now the most powerful soccer league in the world, the English Premiere League.

White, Blue and White is an equally gripping full length feature in the new 30 for 30: Soccer Stories series.  This film is centered on Argentinian soccer players Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa.  The pair opened doors for Argentinians that had dreams of playing soccer in England’s top league.  The pair became national heroes in Argentina after they helped lead Spurs to a huge win in the 1981 FA Cup.  However, everything would change when Argentinian troops made their presence felt in the British-ruled Falkland Islands on April 2, 1982.  It would set off what is now one of the most discussed political conflicts of the twentieth century.  And when Ardiles left Britain to return to Buenos Aires, the move put his future with Spurs very much in doubt.

The feature-length films noted above are just a part of ESPN’s FIFA World Cup tie-in coverage.  More information on each of the upcoming presentations, as well as all of the latest on ESPN’s coverage of the annual tournament is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Bernie And Ernie Closes Out ESPN’s Fall “Season” Of 30 For 30

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN and ESPN Films wind down the Fall 2013 edition of 30 for 30 next Tuesday, November 5th.  The Worldwide leader in sports finishes off this season of its Peabody Award-winning series by taking viewers into the world of college basketball in Bernie and Ernie.

Bernie and Ernie takes viewers into the relationship between former college basketball stars Bernard King and Ernie Grunfield.  The pair rose to fame as the center of the University of Tennessee’s men’s college basketball team in the mid-1970s.  Between them, the pair scored on average fifty points per game.  Their rise to fame eventually led to a cover story for Sports Illustrated.  While things were coming up roses for the pair in the public eye, things were much different for the two men behind closed doors.  There was a distance between the players during their years together on the team.  That was because of their different upbringings.  King lived hard growing up.  Despite being devout Christians, King’s parents offered little to no emotional support to him as he nurtured his talent.  And during his college years, he had to endure acts of racial bigotry.

Ernie Grunfeld had a different upbringing than his team mate.  As a child, the young Romanian immigrant spoke no English at all.  But by his teen years, he was being recruited by some two hundred colleges.  He had no clue about everything that King was enduring while the pair were attending the university of Tennessee.  This is what would eventually lead to a distance between the players.  However, years after they left the Volunteers, the pair would end up reuniting after King was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.  Bernie and Ernie examines that friendship from the pair’s years in college up to this year.  It is narrated by Public Enemy front man Chuck D and directed by Jason Hehir (The Fab Five).  Bernie and Ernie premieres Tuesday, November 5th at 8pm ET on ESPN.

Bernie and Ernie will be available for download via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video the day after its broadcast.  A six-disc collectible gift set featuring the first fifteen films from 30 for 30 Volume II on November 26th, 2013.  More information on this and all things 30 for 30 is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30, http://twitter.com/30for30, and http://espn.go.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Films Starts Winding Down Its Latest Series With “This Is What They Want”

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN Films’ Peabody Award-winning series 30 for 30 continues next Tuesday, October 29th with another brand new film.  Next Tuesday, ESPN and ESPN films take audiences into the tennis world in This is What They Want.  The film focuses on tennis star Jimmy Connors and his unbelievable run in the 1991 US Open.

Connors was thirty-eight years old when he entered the 1991 US Open, and was nearing his thirty-ninth birthday.  At the time, he was ranked 174th in the world.  And it had been eight years since he had earned his last Grand Slam singles title.  For those not familiar with the tennis world, this is not a good sign for someone coming into one of tennis’ biggest events.  Connors was close to being eliminated in the tournament’s first round.  But then something incredible happened.  Connors went on a tear that included a contest with Aaron Krickstein on his way to the semi-finals.  Connors’run through the tournament is richly detailed and examined thanks to director Brian Koppelman and David Levien.  The pair have been producing and directing movies since 1997.  Their list of credits includes: Rounders, Oceans Thirteen, The Illusionist, and the new hit movie Runner, Runner.  The pair included in this film, interviews with veteran tennis players John and Patrick McEnroe, Mary Carilo and Jim Courier along with Kirckstein.  Through their interviews and classic footage, This is What They Want examines not just Connors’ run but also what made him such a talked about figure in the tennis and sports worlds.  It shows how he helped make tennis the equally talked about sport that it is today.

All films in the 30 for 30 series will be available for download the day after their broadcast via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.  The remaining films in the series are listed below.  A special six-disc collector’s edition Gift Set containing the first fifteen films from 30 for 30 Volume II will be available in stores and online Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

The remaining films of the fall slate will air as follows:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m. –This      is What They Want (Directors: Brian      Koppelman and David Levien)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m. –Bernie      and Ernie (Director: Jason Hehir)

 

More information on all things 30 for 30 is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30, http://twitter.com/30for30, and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Big Shot A Gripping Sports Scandal Story

Courtesy:  ESPN/ESPN Films

Courtesy: ESPN/ESPN Films

ESPN is set to release the next collection of films in its Peabody Award winning series, 30 for 30next month. As ESPN’s fans count down the days to the release of ESPN Films Volume II, the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” will debut another film likely to be included in the set Tuesday October 22nd in the form of Big Shot. The nearly ninety minute film is a must see for any hockey fan regardless of team allegiance. It follows the story of how one man conned the entire New York Islanders organization from top to bottom and its waning fan base. Throughout the course of the film, director Kevin Connolly presents to audiences how John Spano conned the sports world into believing he was a Texas billionaire.  It presents his rise to power as the head of a struggling NHL franchise that once boasted four NHL Championships, and his eventual downfall after being revealed as the fraud that he was. As with every one of the films in the 30 for 30 series, the very story itself is reason enough to watch this film. Just as much reason to watch it, those closest to the scandal share the story in their own words. This includes Spano himself. From former players to sports writers and others, the whole twisted tale is told in depth. And sealing the deal for this film is once again the inclusion of classic game footage and newspaper articles to help drive the story along and illustrate everything that happened throughout the ordeal. Together, they make yet another film that proves once more why ESP continues to earn the title of the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

The story behind Big Shot alone is reason enough to watch this film.  The story follows John Spano’s deception of so many people.  From the Islanders to the team’s fans to the NHL as a whole, Spano deceived so many people.  Through it all, he seemed to have no remorse at all for his actions.  This is the case even in one-on-one interviews between director Connolly and Spano for the film.  He didn’t try to make himself a victim.  But he seemed to have had no remorse at all for what he did.  Just as incredible is that he was able to fool so many people for so long, despite certain parties openly crying foul.  The sports world is no stranger to scandals.  But this is one of the rarest scandals ever to have hit the sports world.  The closest that any sports organization comes from the world of NASCAR.  Both times, they involved team owners facing criminal charges for fraud.  Keeping that in mind, Spano’s scandal is even more eye opening.  It is one that any sports fan should see.

The story of Big Shot is an eye opener.  It will keep any sports fan engaged throughout its near ninety-minute run time.  The story by itself wouldn’t be as interesting as it is though, without the interviews with those closest to the scandal.  Those interviewed for this film include former Islanders greats Clark Gillies, Bob Nystrom, and former coach Mike MIlbury.  Even Spano himself is interviewed, as noted previously.  The interviews with Milbury and Spano show that while the scandal has long past, there is obviously still some bad blood between them in regards to everything that happened.  Audiences should be warned that some language used in the interviews may not be suitable for all viewers.  Also interviewed throughout the film are professional sports journalists that covered the Islanders’ struggles and Spano’s impact on both the team and the league as a whole.  Their stories help to even better illustrate just how deep the scandal went and how it managed to go on for so long.  It’s one more positive to what is yet another success from ESPN and ESPN Films.

Both the interviews and the story of Big Shot make this film yet another gripping sports story.  There is still one remaining factor to be examined that makes this film as interesting as ESPN Films’ other stories in its 30 for 30 series.  That factor is the vintage newspaper articles and game footage used throughout the film.  Viewers get to see the Islanders’ heyday from the early 1980s thanks to the footage used in the film.  Also included are newspaper articles used to help illustrate Spano’s rise and eventual fall.  They are good visual aids for viewers.  They make the discussions raised by the interviewees clearer for viewers.  Together with the interviews in question, the game footage and the film’s story, it makes this piece another “win” for ESPN and ESPN Films.  It debuts tonight at 8pm ET on ESPN.  More information on this and other films in the 30 for 30 series is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.