ESPN Front Row has run a piece from Libby Geist (vice-president and executive producer, ESPN Films and Original Content) looking back at O.J. Made In America and the reviews it’s received, and that piece also discusses what’s ahead for the 30 for 30 series and includes glimpses of what’s coming in two new installments. Here’s a clip of the upcoming Nature Boy, a documentary on wrestling legend Ric Flair directed by Rory Karpf (whose previous credits include Dale, The Book of Manning, Tim Richmond: To The Limit and I Hate Christian Laettner):
That clip’s just a short segment of Flair talking about how everyone wanted to be him, but it does show the potential of a documentary on him. There’s no date given for that beyond “next year on ESPN,” but wrestling fans in particular will probably want to stay tuned for more on that. As for basketball fans, ESPN also released some early footage from their forthcoming documentary on the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, from an interview with recently-returned ESPN analyst Magic Johnson:
That clip features Johnson talking about the rivalry overall, how special it was, and how he preferred playing then to playing now even given the greater financial rewards in the modern NBA. This documentary’s set to premiere in the summer of 2017, and is directed by Jim Podhoretz (a producer on Survive and Advance and Whatever Happened to Micheal Ray?) and produced by Jonathan Hock (director of The Best That Never Was, Of Miracles and Men, and Survive and Advance).
The other interesting takeaway from this article is what Geist says about the success OJ: Made In America has found (including ESPN Films’ first Oscars shortlist, numerous other awards and placement on critics’ top-10 lists) and how that will inspire them to push further with future films:
The bar for 30 for 30 and our team at ESPN Films has been raised, and we’re more motivated than ever to tell stories that have the kind of reach and impact that “O.J.: Made in America” has had. We’re proud to work at a company that supports projects like this one that encourages conversation and understanding, and we’ll continue to use our platform to educate and entertain our fans. A huge thank you to our ESPN family for supporting us and being part of this ride.
There are no specifics there, but that (together with Geist’s comments higher in the piece about story mattering more than length) suggests they may look at more multi-part films like the OJ one that bend the traditional 30 for 30 format. That will be worth keeping an eye on going forward.