John Cena Tapped To Host 2016 ESPY Awards

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The Champ. Is. HERE!  Or he will be.

WWE superstar and 15-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena has been announced as the host of the 2016 ESPY Awards.  The appointment marks the first time that Cena has ever served as emcee for the network’s annual awards program.  Cena was humble in discussing being named as this year’s emcee opting instead to discuss those who the program honors and its philanthropic roots.  “It is truly an honor to be named host of The 2016 ESPYS,” he said.  “Not only will the biggest names in sports and entertainment come together to recognize some of the most spectacular athletic performances of the year, but we’ll also raise funds for The V Foundation to further much-needed cancer research.”  ESPYS Executive Producer Maura Mandt noted Cena’s celebrity and the positive impact that he has in and out of the ring in discussing his appointment.  “John is not only a superstar athlete and entertainer, but also a motivational force who inspires fans across the globe,” she said.  “John approaches all of his endeavors with energy, enthusiasm and passion so we expect him to bring a new level of excitement to the night’s celebration.”

Along with being one of the top names in WWE today, Cena is also host and executive producer of FOX’s new reality competition series American Grit.  That is just one of his credits outside the ring.  He has also made appearances in the hit comedies Trainwreck and Sisters.  Along with all of that, Cena also works extensively with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  He is the foundation’s most requested wish granter and has more than lived up to expectations, having granted some 500 wishes.  He was recently recognized by the USO Metro as the recipient of the organization’s 2016 Legacy of Achievement Award.  As if all of this isn’t enough, Cena is also deeply involved in Susan G. Komen and its efforts to research and fight breast cancer.

The 2016 ESPN ESPY Awards will air live on ABC Wednesday, July 13th at 8pm ET from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California.  It raises more than $1 million annual for The V Foundation, which was originally established by ESPN and Jim Valvano in order to promote cancer research.  Tickets for the ESPY Awards can be purchased online at AXS.com.  More information on The ESPY Awards is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/espys

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ESPYS

 

 

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ESPN’s Annual “Jimmy V. Week For Cancer Research” Begins Today

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Today, December 3rd, is an important day in the sports world.  The reason for the day’s importance is that it begins the annual “Jimmy V. Week for Cancer Research.”  It all kicks off tonight with a simulcast of beloved former NC State coach Jim Valvano’s  famed 1993 ESPYs speech across the ESPN family of networks.  It will also run on the ABC SuperSign in New York’s Times Square.  Good Morning America host and winner of the 2013 Arthur Ashe Courage Award, Robin Roberts, will introduce the simulcast.

Roberts and a handful of athletes, coaches, celebrities and ESPN faces will share Valvano’s words through public service announcements.  The announcements in question and “Jimmy V Week” content will air on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, NBA on ESPN games, and college football games on ABC.

The week-long memoriam wraps up with the “Jimmy V. Women’s and Men’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona.”  The games will be broadcast Tuesday, December 17th at 7pm ET on ESPN2.  Number 1 Connecticut will face off against Number 2 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina on the Women’s side.  On the men’s side, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will take to the hard court at 7pm ET.  That game will be followed up by a matchup of Number 16 Florida and Number 11 Memphis at 9:30 ET.  Both games will run on ESPN and ESPN Radio live from Madison Square Garden.

The “Jimmy V. Week for Cancer Research” raised $1.6 million in 2012.  Last year’s success brings the fundraising effort’s six-year total to more than $6.5 million.  More information on this and more from ESPN is available online at http://www.espn.com and 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Celebrating March Madness With New 30 for 30 Film

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

March is the favorite time of year for college basketball fans.  Every March, college basketball fans across the country celebrate the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, otherwise known as “March Madness.”  “March Madness” is upon us once again.  This Sunday, March 17th marks the beginning of the “madness.”  It’s selection Sunday.  The next week is the start of the tournament.  In celebration of the annual tournament, ESPN is giving college basketball fans a little post-Selection Sunday treat.  The Sports Leader will air a very special new addition to its series of 30 for 30 film series titled, “Survive and Advance.”

“Survive and Advance” follows the unlikely story of the 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team.  It was under the direction of then coach Jim Valvano that the team became that year’s Cinderella story.  It follows the team through the good, the great, and the ugly.  This is an excellent way to both wind down after a big day, and get even more excited for the tournament.  It opens with the members of the team—now older—getting together, remembering that incredible year.  From there, ESPN and director Jonathan Hock pull from the vaults, the games that illustrated the team’s meteoric rise that season.  The games are expertly set alongside interviews with team members and friends (including rival coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski).  While the two were rivals of each other and rivals to Coach Valvano, they share their own happy memories of that tournament and of Coach Valvano.  There won’t be a dry eye in the house after hearing the memories in question.

College basketball fans will be moved by the memories shared as they are memories not just of the tournament that season, but of the man that led the Wolfpack.  For those that might not know, for all the team’s success that season, it suddenly had a Goliath of a challenge to face when it was announced that Coach Valvano had been diagnosed with cancer.  The second half of “Survive and Advance” balances the team’s highs and lows just as expertly as the mix of games and interviews in its first half.  One of the most emotional moments of the documentary’s second half is Coach Valvano’s now famous speech at the ESPY Awards.  It’s one of so many moments that will leave even the strongest of viewers moved to tears.  Whether one bleeds light blue, dark blue, red and white, purple and gold, whatever the case may be, this moment was an integral part to the overall presentation.  And it will leave any viewer moved.  Both ESPN and [Jonathan] Hock are to be commended for making sure this memory was shared.

Even through facing the challenge of cancer and later an academic scandal, fans see the determination of Coach Valvano and the entire Wolfpack squad right to the NCAA Championship and beyond in the second half of “Survive and Advance.”  Highlights of the now legendary game are included, bringing back fond memories for Wolfpack fans and college basketball fans in general of all ages.  Viewers are taken through the matchup between Houston and NC State, right to its end through both the game’s footage and interviews with members of that year’s team.  Of course the story doesn’t end there.  Viewers are also taken through the academic scandal that followed and Coach Valvano’s eventual return for the 10th anniversary of the team’s title run and Jimmy V’s untimely passing.  In those final moments of this near two hour documentary, viewers finally see why “Survive and Advance” was a perfect choice for its title.  Just as Coach K said of him, he might have died, but his spirit didn’t.  He might not have beaten cancer, but his legacy and that of the 1983 Wolfpack squad has survived to this day.  And it will indeed advance.

“Survive and Advance” airs this Sunday night at 9pm on ESPN.  To get more information on “Survive and Advance” and any other documentary in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, go online to 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 Announces New Additions To 30 For 30 Series

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has announced the addition of two new films to its hit 30 for 30 film series.  Survive and Advance and Elway to Marino are the latest additions to the network’s ongoing series of documentaries.  The first of the films to debut will be Survive and Advance.  The documentary centers on the late NC State University basketball coach Jim Valvano and the Wolfpack’s legendary 1982-’83 season.  That year, the team came back from almost not making the NCAA tournament to winning nine straight games in route to winning the NCAA title that year.  The Wolfpack players took down teams whose rosters included players who would later go on to become some of the game’s biggest names.  Among those names are the likes of:  Jordan, Olajuwon, Sampson, and Drexler.  The film is directed by Jonathan Hock (Unguarded, The Best That Never Was).  It will air Sunday, March 17th at 9pm on ESPN.

The second of the new films in the series is the football documentary, Elway to Marino.  This documentary focuses on what is considered by most to be a pivotal turning point for the NFL in the April 26, 1983 NFL Draft.  Before this draft, the NFL was in very troubled waters.  The previous season had seen a players strike.  The USFL took that as a chance to take some of the league’s top talent.  And the now late Al Davis had taken the league to court.  But it was this draft that turned the tide for the league.  The film examines the draft from the vantage point of the owners, players, managers, agents and more to explain the significance of the landmark draft.  Among the players taken in the draft were NFL legends John Elway and Dan Marino (just two of the six QBs taken that year).  It examines all the work that went into drafting players, both the good and the bad.  Elway to Marino was directed by Ken Rodgers and is being presented by both ESPN Films and NFL Films.  It will air Tuesday, April 23rd at 9pm on ESPN.

Elway to Marino and Survive and Advance are just two more additions to the long awaited 30 for 30 Volume II which is currently slated for an October 2013 release.  Sports lovers and fans in general can keep up with the latest news about this release and others in the 30 for 30 series online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://www.espn.com/30for30.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

ESPN Films announces new “30 for 30” series

ESPN Films has announced the return of its hit “30 for 30” series.  The series will return with thirty new stories this fall.  “30 for 30 Vol. II” is set to air in October.  The new series will be a little bit different from the original “30 for 30.”  It will include a new partnership with Grantland.com.  the partnership will see the debut of an all new series of digital shorts titled, “30 for 30 Shorts” that will run on Grantland.com.

Each of the digital shorts will run in a format similar to the original “30 for 30” films.  They will be told from the point of view of the filmmaker, and will reflect how the film maker combines the feature with his/her own style of film making.  The online series will begin running on Grantland.com this September.  A preview of the series is online now, the “30 for 30” short, “Here and Now.”  “Here and Now” is about Cincinatti Reds legend Pete Rose.  Some of the shorts scheduled to run as part of the upcoming “30 For 30 Vol. II” include:  “Benji”, “Broke”, “Bo Knows”, and “The Season of Their Lives.” 

“Benji” centers on the life and tragic death of 17-year-old basketball talent, Ben Wilson.  Wilson was called, “Magic Johnson with a jump shot.”  The Chicago youth was a top college basketball prospect, until his tragic murder in 1984.

“Broke” delves into what leads so many sports megastars to go from riches to rags.  It used interviews with New York Jets star Bart Scott and retired stars Keith Mccants, Bernie Kosar, Leon Searcy and Andre Rison to look into the psychology of stars who have lost everything.

“Bo Knows” follows the legacy of sports superstar Bo Jackson.  By following the life and legacy of this sports legend, film maker Mike Bonfiglio examines how athletes are marketed and the expectations placed onto them as a result of said marketing.

“The Season of Their Lives” follows what is one of the most amazing seasons in the history of the North Carolina State Wolfpack men’s basketball team.  Jonathan Hock documents the team’s struggle and sudden surge to the NCAA title game in the 1982-1983 season.  Hock tells the Wolfpack’s unlikely miracle season, and following tragedy, through the vantage point of then team Captain Dereck Whittenburg.  It all begins this October.

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