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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.


ESPN Starts Countdown To 2014 FIFA World Cup Tournament This Week

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The countdown to the 2014 FIFA World Cup begins this week.

ESPN will mark one hundred days to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Tuesday, March 4th with three days of special programming beginning Monday, March 3rd.  There will also be extensive digital content on ESPNFC.com and coverage of seven FIFA matches among much more coverage throughout the week.

ESPNFC.com kicks off the special three-day event with an in-depth three-day content initiative that focuses on this year’s tournament in Brazil.  That initiative includes digital video, stories, and much more.  Among the highlights from ESPNFC.com are:

  • “American Underdogs” – Part I: This is the first of Roger Bennett’s four-part series focusing on the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 World Cup.  It examines specifically the buildup to that year’s FIFA World Cup tournament in the United States.
  • World Cup injuries report Who’s in, who’s out?: As the buildup to this year’s FIFA World Cup tournament builds, John Brewin gives a report on all of the key injuries from the teams taking part in the tournament.
  • How does a country win a World Cup?: Gabrielle Marcotti investigates what it takes to be the FIFA World Cup champion.
  • Battling the elements: Teams will face not only each other in the FIFA World Cup tournament, but also Mother Nature.  Brazilian-based journalist Eduardo Alvarez gives an in-depth look at the impact of the weather on the tournament.

ESPN2 and WatchESPN will continue the ESPN family of networks’ special three-day coverage of the 0214 FIFA World Cup tournament on Tuesday with a special one-hour edition of ESPN FC on TV.  The special broadcast will include previews and discussions of this year’s World Cup tournament as well as the launch of “American Underdogs,” which focuses on the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 FIFA World Cup tournament.

Tuesday’s hour-long ESPN FC on TV broadcast will air on ESPN and WatchESPN at 5pm ET.  It will be hosted by Dan Thomas and former U.S. Men’s National Team players Kasey Keller and Alexi Lalas.  They will be joined by analyst Alejandro Moreno, a former Venezuelan National Team player, live from Atlanta.  Moreno will call matchup of Mexico and Nigeria Wednesday, March 5th on ESPNEWS and WatchESPN.  That game can also be viewed online via WatchESPN.  It will air at 8:30pm ET.

Tuesday’s broadcast of ESPN FC on TV will include:

  • The top 10 on-the-field questions leading into the World Cup.
  • “American Underdogs – Part III: Alexi Lalas played in the 1994 FIFA World Cup tournament.  He will personally discuss the legacy of that year’s tournament.
  • A preview of Wednesday’s matchups, featuring key 2014 World Cup Teams – the only FIFA approved match date before the tournament.
  • Analysis from ESPN FC’s European football experts Gabrielle Marcotti and Raphael Honigstein on the tournament’s top European teams.
  • A “100th Day Out” countdown graphic that will appear on-screen throughout the course of the progam.  It will also be featured on programming across the ESPN family of networks.

The ESPN family of networks wind-down their special three-day coverage marking the countdown to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Tournament on Wednesday with seven international matches.  That coverage includes the last official FIFA match date before the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament.  The schedule for those games is listed below.

Date Time (ET) Matchup Network(s)
Wed, March 5 1:30 p.m. Ukraine vs. USA ESPN2 / WatchESPN
2 p.m. Romania vs. Argentina ESPN3 / ESPN Deportes
2:45 p.m. Germany vs. Chile ESPN3
3 p.m. France vs. Netherlands ESPN3
3:45 p.m. Portugal vs. Cameroon ESPN3
4 p.m. Spain vs. Italy ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / WatchESPN
8:30 p.m. Mexico vs. Nigeria ESPNEWS / WatchESPN


The ESPN family of networks will offer much more content and coverage beginning today, March 3rd on the 100-day countdown to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Tournament.  More information on this week’s special three-day event is available online at http://www.espnfc.com and http://www.facebook.com/ESPNFC.  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 https://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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Debuts First FIFA World Cup Tournament Promo Trailer

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, debuted its very first trailer in its promotional campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup yesterday, during the 100th annual Rose Bowl.  The spot, which runs barely over a minute, spans the rich history of the tournament, which goes back decades.  One of the more notable moments included in the clip are: the Dutch and German flags being exchanged by Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Dutch captain Johan Cruyff before the start of the 1974 Final.  Cameroonian striker Roger Milla’s famous dance from 1990 is also included, as is Paolo Rossi raising the cup for Italy in 1982 among so many other moments. The full list of those moments in question is listed below.

  • Pele and his triumphant celebration in 1970
  • Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Dutch captain Johan Cruyff exchanging flags moments before the 1974 Final
  • Diego Maradona and his brilliant performance for Argentina in 1986
  • Zinedine Zidane, whose epic performance for France led the host country to win the Cup in 1998
  • Andres Iniesta, whose beautiful strike sealed Spain’s first World Cup title in 2010
  • Cameroonian striker Roger Milla’s famous dance in 1990
  • Dutch legend Johan Cruyff’s immortal turn in 1974
  • England striker Geoff Hurst’s record-setting three-goal performance in a World Cup title match in 1966
  • Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp’s memorable touch against Argentina in 1998
  • Carlos Alberto’s wonder-strike for Brazil in 1970
  • Paolo Rossi hoisting the cup for Italy in 1982
  • And Landon Donovan’s celebration after his last-gasp winner against Algeria earned the U.S. Men’s National Team a place in the single-elimination rounds in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

The spot comes to a head by showing some of today’s top names in soccer that hope to hoist the cup this year.  Those that didn’t get to see the spot during yesterday’s broadcast of the Rose Bowl can see it now on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Sy6kawwwpU&feature=youtu.be.  A longer ninety-second clip is also available for viewing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHrf5EBVlDs&feature=youtu.be.

This year’s FIFA World Cup Tournament will take place Thursday, June 12th – Sunday, July 13th.  More information on the FIFA World Cup Tournament is available online at http://www.facebook.com/ESPNFC and http://www.espnfc.com.  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  https://philspicks.wordpress.com.