For all the flack the “worldwide leader in sports” catches for a variety of reasons, by far one of the best initiatives ESPN has ever taken on has been their award winning, magnificently produced 30 For 30 documentary series. And in an announcement today, expect for the project to be extended well into 2014 returning this fall. Equally as important as the topics covered, the renewal also insures talented filmmakers from across the country will continue having the opportunity to tell our favorite stories involving Jim Valvano, Ben Johnson, Bo Jackson and more.
One in particular holding personal interest is Benji, which has already been previewed at Tribeca. For those who have never heard of the Chicago kid, Benjamin Wilson was the most sought after high school basketball player in the country who was murdered in 1984; the same year Chicago was taken by storm by another all-world talent. When asked why the series was brought back, Connor Schell, vice president and executive producer of ESPN Films, simply said the response was too overwhelming.
“We felt it had power,” he said. “It resonated with our fans and consumers, and we saw it in social media; people referring to films as `30 for 30’ films that weren’t part of `30 for 30,’ ” like “The Announcement,” which detailed the events before and after the public revelation by Magic Johnson that he had H.I.V. “That meant something to us.”
In addition to re-upping the hour long showcases, expect to find “shorts” as well. These will feature anywhere from four to 12 minute stories about topics entertaining in their own right, but not needing 60 minutes. The first is already is available and it details the story of baseball’s all time hits leader, Pete Rose, Here Now.