ESPN has announced its next 30 for 30 documentary and if you grew up in the late-80s or early- 90s, the subject might be very intriguing to you.
Deadline’s Peter White reports that reality competition series American Gladiators will be profiled next in ESPN’s docuseries. For those unfamiliar with the show, “Contenders” would compete against “Gladiators” in events such as jousts on elevated platforms, tug of war on a tilting surface, and trying to scale a rock-climbing wall while being pulled down.
Adding some entertainment value, the Gladiators — who were typically bodybuilders or former football players — had names like “Laser,” “Malibu,” “Blaze,” “Nitro,” and “Cyclone” which created sort of a professional wrestling feel to the personalities and competition. Many of the Gladiators are expected to be part of the documentary, along with show creator Johnny Ferraro.
Sports broadcasters were also part of the program, which seemingly lent a bit of legitimacy to the whole enterprise. Joe Theismann and Mike Adamle were the commentators for American Gladiators‘ first season. Todd Christensen and Larry Csonka worked on subsequent seasons of the show.
Ben Berman will be the director of this 30 for 30 film. His most recent project was The Amazing Johnathan Documentary (currently streaming on Hulu), which follows comedian and musician John Szeles as he’s dying from heart disease. (Or is he?)
Berman has also directed a Tim Heidecker stand-up comedy special, in addition to episodes of Lady Dynamite and Comedy Bang! Bang!. That background in comedy might indicate the tone of this 30 for 30, which seems appropriate. American Gladiators can’t be treated with too much seriousness, right?
Vice Studios will produce the documentary and they’ve compiled an impressive recent track record with films including Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened and VICE TV’s Dark Side of the Ring.
No word on when the American Gladiators documentary will air, nor whether it will broadcast on ESPN or stream on ESPN+ as recent 30 for 30s including The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius and The Infinite Race did.