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 https://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 https://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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.