It’s quite an era not just for sports documentaries, but for documentaries touching on sports figures’ connections with politics, culture and other arenas outside of the playing field. A few of the many efforts along those lines have included ESPN’s OJ: Made In America (on O.J. Simpson and the history of race in America), Showtime’s Shut Up And Dribble (the LeBron James/Maverick Carter/Gotham Chopra collaboration on the history of the NBA and its impact on politics and culture), and HBO’s What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali. Now, there’s another one announced, with Deadline’s Denise Petski writing Monday that ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant’s 2018 Beacon Press book The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism is going to be adapted into a docuseries:
Howard Bryant’s book The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism, is in the works for television. Maverick TV, an All3Media Company, will adapt the book into a multi-part docuseries, with Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men, Burn Motherf*cker Burn), and his production company Mass Appeal, attached to executive produce. Jenkins also will direct an episode. Each subsequent episode will be helmed by a different African-American filmmaker to provide a unique and personal perspective on the story.
…“Howard Bryant’s book is an impressive and compelling must-read for anyone looking to better understand the current climate in America. Through the invaluable lens and creative force of Sacha Jenkins, we are extremely proud to share these stories globally,” said All3Media America CEO Tim Pastore. “Coupled with such a strong artistic and advocate voice, The Heritage series has the potential to deliver on the promise of social impact storytelling and truly make a difference in the conversation.”
As per the release, the book covers athletes from Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali to Maya Moore and Colin Kaepernick, and touches on topics from protests against war and police actions to the connections between patriotism, the military and sports. It’s the eighth book written by Bryant, who also is a sports correspondent for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday and is a co-curator for a new exhibit at San Francisco’s Exploratorium museum:
Thank you to the @exploratorium for choosing me as a co-curator for their exhibit “Self-Made,” a meditation on identity. And no, the earring will never die. Running until Sept. 2…check it out!! pic.twitter.com/m7JFUV5LYh
— Full Dissident (@hbryant42) July 8, 2019
Here’s a clip of Bryant discussing The Heritage on Boston PBS station WGBH last month:
As for Maverick TV, they’ve been around since 1994, and have done everything from a Stephen Fry BBC Two docuseries on attitudes to homosexuality around the globe to a USA reality series on the life of a Georgia real estate millionaire and his family. Jenkins is a notable attached figure here too, as his Wu-Tang Clan documentary (a four-part series that premiered on Showtime in May) received a lot of praise. We’ll see how this docuseries shapes up and where it lands.
[Deadline; screenshot from WGBH on YouTube]