PBS To Release Special FIFA World Cup Tournament Tie-In

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release a special documentary this summer in celebration of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Tournament.

American Pharaoh will be released on DVD July 8th. The documentary, helmed by Egyptian filmmaker Hossam Aboul-Magd, follows the Egyptian National Soccer team—the Pharaohs—and the team’s former American coach, Bob Bradley. It documents the team’s attempt to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup for the first time in more than twenty years. Aboul-Magd and his crew filmed the documentary over the course of more than two years. The team’s struggle to qualify is set against the unrest in the team’s home nation.

Bardley is only the third American to ever manage a foreign soccer team.   Along with the struggles of the team as a whole, American Pharaoh follows Bradley’s journey and that of his family, staff and players. It offers coverage of the Pharaohs’ games in Africa and shows the team’s fight to reach its lofty goals despite everything going on around the team.

Aboul-Magd explained in an interview that his documentary is more than just a sports-themed documentary. He explained that this documentary is about the team and its fight to succeed as an example of how Egypt as a country can also overcome its own struggles. “This is not just a film about soccer,” he said. “This is about my country, my team, a coach I respect and the dream of capturing the World Cup in spite of enormous challenges.  I see the goal of developing a strong team, in the middle of a revolution, as a metaphor for the rebuilding of Egypt.”

Bill Gardner, VP of Programming and Development with PBS, also shared his thoughts on the documentary. He noted in his comments what led PBS to take on American Pharaoh. “When Hossam approached PBS with this idea, we were immediately on board,” he said. “This film not only tells a compelling story, but also provides a unique window into Egyptians’ ongoing struggle to define themselves during a time of national unrest. The journey of the Pharaohs on the road to the World Cup with the perspective of their American coach make this a truly unusual and intimate film.”

Hossam Abou-Magd is an award-winning filmmaker. American Pharaohs is not his first film for PBS. He has helmed previous works for PBS, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, History Channel, BBC, ABC, CNN, NHK and Al-Jazeera.

American Pharaoh will be available on DVD Tuesday, July 8th. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35620216&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+pharaoh&origkw=American+Pharaoh&parentPage=search. More information on this and other documentaries from PBS is available online at http://www.pbs.org and http://www.facebook.com/pbs. 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.

30 For 30 Series Continues With NHL Documentary “Big Shot”

 

Courtesy:  ESPN/ESPN Films

Courtesy: ESPN/ESPN Films

 

The next film in ESPN’s Peabody Award winning series, 30 for 30, airs next Tuesday.  Big Shot is the next film in the hugely popular series.  It is directed and narrated by Kevin Connolly. Mark Ciardi (Million Dollar Arm, Secretariat) and Ted Schillinger (Benji) produced the film.

Big Shot follows the issues that plagued the NHL’s New York Islanders after the team was bought by Dallas businessman John Spano in 1996.  Spano bought the beleaguered team for $165 million.  His purchase of the team looked like a good thing on the surface.  But, not everything was as it seemed for the Islanders and the team’s fans.  Big Shot presents as part of its presentation, the only interview that Spano ever gave about the Islanders deal.  Audiences will see in this film just how the scam went undetected by so many for so long.  A trailer for the film is available online at http://espn.go.com/30for30/film?page=bigshot.

Each film in the 30 for 30 series will be available online via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video the day after its broadcast.  A special collectible six-disc DVD set featuring the first fifteen films from 30 for 30 Volume II will be available in stores and online November 26th, 2013.  The remaining films in this season of ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 are listed below.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m. – Big Shot (Director: Kevin Connolly)
  • 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 this and all things 30 for 30 is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://twitter.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 30 For 30 Series Returns This Fall

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has officially announced the schedule for the return of its hit 30 for 30 film series.  The Peabody Award-winning series will return this Fall beginning Tuesday, October 1st with the tragic story of Hawaiian surfer Eddie Aiku in Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aiku.  The film (and all new films in the series) will broadcast at 8pm on ESPN with a new film debuting each Tuesday from October 1st to November 5th.  The story of Eddie Aiku is just the beginning in the return of ESPN’s award-winning series.  Also included in this Fall’s schedule are stories of the John Spano Islanders scandal in Big Shot and Jimmy Connors’ unbelievable run in the 1991 U.S. Open in This is What They Want.  It’s all capped off with a look at one of the most infamous rivalries and moments in modern sports history in Tonya and Nancy.  This film documents the rivalry between skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan and how it led to the brutal attack on Kerrigan.

Connor Schell, ESPN Films Vice President explained the motivation behind bringing the network’s famed series back with more new films in a recent interview.  “We continue to see an insatiable appetite for well-told sports stories that both tap into nostalgia and allow for discovery of new insight and detail.  We are proud to be the destination for fans looking for high-quality films that take them inside the worlds that they love,” he said.  “Sports hold an increasingly prominent place in American culture, and our new slate of films exemplifies our ongoing goal of telling cultural stories that last.”

Fans can download each new film the day after its broadcast via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.  And for those that want the physical object, ESPN will release a special six-disc set titled 30 for 30 Volume II on November 26th, just in time for the holidays.  The set will feature the first fifteen films in the new, upcoming slate of films.  It will be available online at ESPNShop.com and in stores.

The current listing of upcoming films is available below:

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 8 p.m. – Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau

Tuesday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m. – Free Spirits

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. – No Mas

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m. – Big Shot

Tuesday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m. – This Is What They Want

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m. – Tonya and Nancy

 

Fans can keep up with all of the latest updates on the 30 for 30 series online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://espn.go.com/30for30.  And 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.

James, Williams, Heat Lead The Night At Annual ESPYs Awards

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Another year, another big night for the ESPYS.  LeBron James and his team mates with the Miami heat were some of the big winners at ESPN’s annual sports awards show.  Also on the list of the year’s big winners were Serena Williams and Michael Phelps.  James led the pack with three ESPY awards.  And his team mates took home the award in the “Best Team” category for the second consecutive year.  James’ awards were in the categories of: “Best Championship Performance”, “Best NBA Player”, and “Best Male Athlete.”  Just as his team mates won their award for the second consecutive year, so did James take home the same awards personally for the second consecutive year, too.  Last night’s win brings James’ ESPY total to nine awards over the course of his career. 

Serena Williams took home two awards on the night.  She won in the categories of “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Best Female Tennis Player.”

Game Six of the NBA Championship finals won the award in the “Best Game” category.  It was in that game that Ray Allen forced the game into overtime with a game-tying three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in the game.  The Heat went on to win the game and the 2013 NBA Championship.

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick might not have won the big game this year.  But he did win at the ESPYs.  He took home the award in the “Best Breakout Athlete.”  Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby won in the category of “Best NHL Player.”  The award comes on the heels of a season that saw Crosby score fifteen goals and forty-one assists over the course of the regular season.  And from the world of Major League Baseball, Detroit Tigers player and triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera brought home the award for “Best MLB Player.”  Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps won the award for “Best Record-Breaking Performance.”  He won the award for his record setting the all-time record for most Olympic Medals at a total of twenty-two medals.  He also won this award in 2009. 

In one of the night’s more emotional moments, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts took home the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.  Roberts, who also played a direct hand in the new ESPN/espnW film series, Nine for IX, was one of ESPN’s first female sports anchors in the 1990s.  Roberts has faced both cancer and MDS yet never wavered in her fight against either life-threatening illness.  The award was presented to Roberts by LeBron James. 

Another of the night’s more emotional moments came in the presentation of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.  The award was given to the father and son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt.  The pair has competed together in over one thousand endurance events including thirty-one Boston Marathons.  The younger of the duo, Rick Hoyt, is 51-years old.  He was born with cerebral palsy.  The condition left him unable to use his hands and legs.  His father, 73-year old Dick Hoyt, pushes his son in a custom-made running chair during races including 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons and triathlons.  The award was given to the duo by actor Ben Affleck. 

Among some of the nights other notable winners were:  Rick Pitino (Best Coach/Manager), Candace Parker (Best WNBA Player), Floyd Mayweather (Best Fighter), Missy Franklin (Best Female Olympian), Usain Bolt (Best International Athlete) and Thierry Henry (Best MLS Player).  A full list of the night’s winners is available below.

SPECIAL AWARDS

 

ARTHUR ASHE COURAGE AWARD: Robin Roberts

JIMMY V AWARD FOR PERSEVERANCE: Dick and Rick Hoyt

 

BEST IN SPORT

 

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE: Serena Williams

BEST MALE ATHLETE: LeBron James

BEST FEMALE OLYMPIAN: Missy Franklin

BEST MALE OLYMPIAN: Michael Phelps

BEST MOMENT: Jack Hoffman TD at Nebraska spring game

BEST TEAM: Miami Heat

BEST COMEBACK: Adrian Peterson

BEST COACH/MANAGER: Rick Pitino

BEST GAME: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs, Game 6 NBA Finals

BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE: LeBron James, NBA Finals

BEST PLAY:

BEST UPSET: 15-Seed Florida Gulf Coast over 2-Seed Georgetown

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE: Colin Kaepernick

BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE: Michael Phelps 22 Olympic medals

BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Johnny Manziel

BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Brittney Griner

BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Jeremy Campbell

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Jessica Long

 

INDIVIDUAL SPORTS

 

BEST MLB PLAYER: Miguel Cabrera

BEST NBA PLAYER: LeBron James

BEST WNBA PLAYER: Candace Parker

BEST NFL PLAYER: Adrian Peterson

BEST NHL PLAYER: Sidney Crosby

BEST MLS PLAYER: Thierry Henry

BEST MALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Nyjah Huston

BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Stephanie Gilmore

BEST BOWLER: Pete Weber

BEST DRIVER: Ryan Hunter-Reay

BEST FIGHTER: Floyd Mayweather

BEST MALE GOLFER: Tiger Woods

BEST FEMALE GOLFER: Stacey Lewis

BEST INTERNATIONAL ATHLETE: Usain Bolt

BEST JOCKEY: Joel Rosario

BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER: Novak Djokovic

BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: Serena Williams

 

SPONSORED AWARD

 

CAPITAL ONE CUP: North Carolina Women’s Athletics and UCLA Men’s Athletics

 

To find out more about the night’s events, fans can go online to the official ESPN website, http://www.espn.com or its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ESPN and “Like” it.

 

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 Announces Nominees For 2013 ESPYS, Voting Open Now

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The nominations are out and the voting has officially begun for this year’s annual ESPY Awards.  In preparation of the annual celebration, Pardon The Interruption hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon will host The ESPY Nomination Special next Monday, July 1st at 8pm EST on ESPN2.  Among this year’s nominees are: Drew Brees, Miguel Cabrera, the Chicago Blackhawks, Olympic medal winner Gabby Douglas, Superbowl champion Joe Flaco of the Baltimore Ravens, and many, many more.

Voting for candidates is open now.  Voting for all categories except “Best Team” will close on the day of the show, Wednesday, July 17th at 9pm.  Fans can cast their vote for categories such as: “Best Male Athlete”, “Best Female Athlete”, “Best Championship Performance”, “Best Breakthrough Athlete” and many others.  Fans can vote online at http://www.ESPN.com/ESPYS up to the start of this year’s awards show.  The “Best Team” category is shifting this year to a Twitter exclusive vote at the beginning of the awards show.  Fans will be able to vote via Twitter throughout the show using hashtag #ESPYSBestTeam and the voter’s favorite team name.  vote from Twitter and ESPYS.com will be gathered at the show’s end to determine the winner of this category.

For more on the ESPYS, fans can go online to http://www.ESPN.com/ESPYS or the official ESPN Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ESPN.

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.

Mad Men Actor Tapped To Host 2013 ESPYS

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Mad Men actor Jon Hamm has been announced as the host of this year’s annual ESPY Awards broadcast.  Hamm, who plays Don Draper on the hit AMC series, was announced as this year’s host this morning on LIVE With Kelly and Michael.  Hamm already has quite the resume.  He has already earned himself a Golden Globe Award, a Television Critics Association Award, and a Critics’ Choice Television Award.  He has also been nominated for awards at the Emmys and the Screen Actors Guild. 

Hamm will be in comfortable company for this year’s ESPYs broadcast.  He will be joined by some of the best of the best in the sports world.  This year’s list of celebrity athlete presenters will be announced at a later date.  He himself has quite the sports pedigree.  Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Hamm is an avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues.  He played in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Games in 2009 and 2012.  His role in the games allowed him to play third base, right next to his childhood idol, Ozzie Smith.  He will also be working on a new film from Walt Disney Pictures and Mayhem Pictures this summer titled, Million Dollar Arm.  The movie is about a disillusioned sports agent who is in search of professional pitching talent through a reality show set in India.

Hamm commented in a recent interview on the announcement of his being named to host the ESPYS this year.  “I’m very excited to be hosting the ESPYS.  As a longtime sports fan and a marginally successful high school athlete I feel my skill-set jibes well with a host’s duties,” he said.  “I now have to figure out what cleats to wear with a tuxedo.” 

ESPY Executive Producer Maura Mandt shared Mann’s thoughts about his appointment.  “The ESPYS is designed to showcase the year’s best sports moments in a sharp, fun and entertaining manner and Jon’s the perfect host for this year’s show.  His appearances on shows like 30 Rock and SNL show that humor and creativity are two of his main strengths,” she said.  “The combination of Jon’s dry wit with his passion for sports will give fans a unique and original view of the year in sports.”   

The ESPYS are scheduled to air live Wednesday, July 17th at 9pm EST/8pm CT/6pm PST on ESPN/ESPNHD from the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.  This year’s broadcast will be more interactive than ever for fans.  All categories except for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and other special awards will be chosen by the fans.  Voting can take place before and during the live show.  Voting will be open from June 28th – July 17th at 9pm EST on ESPN.com/ESPYS.  Voting during the show will be open during the show beginning at 9pm July 17th.  Voting for “Best Team” will be open only on Twitter.  Fans can vote for “Best Team” on Twitter during the show using hashtag ESPYSBestTeam and the team name.

For all the latest ESPYS news, fans can follow the ESPYS on Twitter at @ESPYS.

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 The Magazine’s “Analytics” Issue Hits Newsstands Friday

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The latest issue of ESPN The Magazine will have a special new feature piece.  The second annual “Analytics” issue examines the rise of “wins above replacement” in Major League Baseball in the article War is the Answer.”  The article, written by Baseball Prospectus writer Sam Miller, gives readers an in-depth look at how next level metrics are changing what we think we know about sports.  This is thanks in large part to last season’s AL MVP debate centered on Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout.  Miller’s article encourages fans to embrace, not fight Wins Above Replacement, arguing that it is MLB’s signature stat.

Miller’s article is one of the key features in the new issue of EPN The Magazine.  As a companion piece of sorts, it will also include a piece on how the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers use advanced metrics to rebuild its franchise.  That’s all in Jordan Brenner’s article, “You Can Call Them Trailblazers.”  Morty Ain’s article, “The Year analytics Took Over The World” brings everything together for this issue.  It adds stats and figures to show their impact on hirings, firings and even in-game decisions last year around the sports world.  That’s all in the new article, due to hit store shelves this Friday, February 22nd.  Stories from the world of NASCAR and the NHL highlighting how analytics affects each are also included in this new issue. That and much more are all available in the new issue of ESPN The Magazine.

An added note for readers:  ESPN The Magazine is sponsoring the Research Paper of the Year Award for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.  The conference was founded in 2006.  Co-Chaired by Daryl Morley and Jessica Gelman, it offers professionals and students a platform to discuss the ever growing role of analytics throughout the world of competitive sports.  Over 100 papers have been submitted for this year’s conference.  And now, readers can read each of the finalists and vote on them via SportsNation.  The fan’s choice will be announced at the next conference, next Friday and Saturday, March 1st and 2nd

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.

DKM’s New LP One Of Its Best Yet

Courtesy:  Born & Bred Records

Courtesy: Born & Bred Records

Dropkick Murphys has returned.  The seven man Boston based Celtic punk rock band released its eighth full length studio album earlier this month.  And the band’s new album, Signed and Sealed in Blood is the best that the band has sounded in a long time.  This new album goes back to the days of the band’s 2001 album, Sing Loud, Sing Proud.  Fittingly enough, the band opens the album in similar fashion to that album, too with the song, ‘The Boys are Back.’  It’s a relatively simple song.  Its simple chant of “The boys are back/The boys are back/The boys are back/And they’re looking for trouble” makes it the perfect re-introduction for long-time fans and first time introduction for anyone that is new to the veteran punk rock band’s sound.  As a matter of fact, it’s such a hit that’s now this season’s official intro video for the band’s hometown hockey team, The Boston Bruins.  This isn’t the first time that the band has made a song for the Bruins.  The band also wrote an equally popular song in ‘Black and Gold’ that was included in its 2003 album, Blackout.  This new song seems to have gotten the job done already for the Bruins.  The team opened its new season with a 3-1 stomping of the New York Rangers on Saturday.  Next up is a matchup against the Winnipeg Jets this afternoon at 1pm.

Hockey aside, DKM’s new album will impress anyone longing for the band’s older sound not just for its opener, but for the entire album.  The boys definitely don’t back down after reintroducing themselves to audiences.  They just keep the energy moving with the album’s next track, ‘Prisoner’s Song.’  It has a slight tinge of ‘Shipping Up to Boston’ for fans of the band’s more recent material.  Listeners will appreciate the song not just for the musical side, but also for its lyrical side, too.  The way that the song was written was almost storytelling in style.  It’s easy to actually see images in one’s own mind as the band sings, “Looking back on a past/When we still had a chance/We were pawns in a game/That we could not win/Now we’re alone/Just a pick and stone/We’re dreaming of a future/When our ship comes in.”  One can actually see a group of prisoners like something out of a storybook singing this.  That storytelling nature of the band’s music is one of its trademarks, too.  So it is nice to hear that the band hasn’t lost that with this new release.

Speaking of that storytelling side, listeners will especially appreciate the band’s own take on the whole concept of Christmas songs.  Yes, you read right; Christmas songs.  Christmas has passed already.  But it’s not too far behind us.  So why not have a good post-holiday laugh?  ‘The Season’s Upon Us’ is a hilarious yet rather true song to which so many listeners can relate.  Founding member Ken Casey sings about the holidays with this family in this song.  He sings, “Some families are messed up/While others are fine/If you think yours is crazy/Well you should see mine.”  From here Casey goes on to sing about life with his family during the holidays.  The raucous and slightly dysfunctional family life makes for so many laughs in that it is so relatable.  He starts off by introducing listeners to his sisters and their not so great husbands and children.  The words he writes are something that can’t exactly be entirely repeated here.  From there he goes on to his parents.  It’s like a musical stand-up comedy act that will leave listeners in stitches.  It makes for one more of so many songs that listeners will love from this new release.  Signed and Sealed in Blood is available now in stores and online via iTunes at http://smarturl.it/DropkickSASIB.  The band is currently touring overseas in support of its new album.  It will be back stateside beginning with a performance at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio on February 21st.  Fans in North Carolina will get to hear the band’s new material live when it makes a stop at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday, March 5th.  To get a full tour rundown and to get all the latest news and more from the band, fans can go online to http://www.dropkickmuprhys.com, http://www.facebook.com/DropkickMurphys, http://www.myspace.com/dropkickmurphys, and http://www.twiter.com/dropkickmurphys

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.