There’s a long history of multiple movies or TV series exploring the same subject coming out at around the same time, including The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story and OJ: Made In America (on FX and ESPN, respectively), The Price of Gold (ESPN) and Nancy and Tonya (NBC), Fyre (Netflix) and Fyre Fraud (Hulu), and (if we count “fictional apocalyptic scenarios involving asteroids or comets” as the same subject) Armageddon and Deep Impact (both theatrical releases). The latest topic to get the dueling documentary treatment is the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
Back in February, Cadence13, Prologue Projects and Left/Right announced they were launching a podcast and developing a TV series on the topic from Ben Reiter (the long-time Sports Illustrated writer who predicted the Astros’ 2017 World Series win in a 2014 cover story and later wrote the New York Times-bestselling Astroball: The New Way to Win it All. On Friday, mobile-focused platform Quibi (which has already announced some other sports projects, including a Varsity Blues remake series, and which has Donald Sterling documentary Blackballed launching this coming Monday) announced their own project on the Astros, from (the-LeBron James and Maverick Carter-founded) Uninterrupted and The Cinemart. Here’s more from a release:
Los Angeles, CA – May 15, 2020 – Quibi has announced ‘SIGN LANGUAGE* (working title),’ a new documentary series about the Houston Astros cheating scandal from Uninterrupted and The Cinemart.
Logline: ‘SIGN LANGUAGE’ gives viewers an inside look at the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal and its unprecedented fallout, making it one of the most far-reaching cheating schemes in sport’s history. The documentary will transcend the baseball diamond to explore larger themes of greed, cheating, corruption, sportsmanship, and social media activism. Using UNINTERRUPTED’s hit podcast R2C2 with CC Sabathia and Ryan Ruocco, access to top athletes and sports reporters, and The Cinemart’s award-winning investigative filmmaking, ‘SIGN LANGUAGE’ will be the definitive documentary about the scandal that rocked America’s pastime.
Executive Producers: Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason and Michael Gasparro (The Cinemart), Maverick Carter, Jamal Henderson, and Philip Byron (UNINTERRUPTED) and Jason Stein
Directors: Julia Willoughby Nason and Jenner Furst
Produced by: UNINTERRUPTED and The Cinemart
It’s interesting to see Sabathia and Ruocco featured in this, but that makes some sense; they’re some of the more prominent baseball figures at Uninterrupted given their podcast (which started at The Players’ Tribune in July 2017 and moved to Uninterrupted in May 2018). As for The Cinemart, some of their notable documentaries include Fyre Fraud and the series Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story (Willoughby Nason and Furst directed both of those). But it will be interesting to see what they do with a Quibi series; the Quibi focus on short content for phones means a lot of their stuff is broken up into very small installments, like Blackballed‘s 12 episodes, each 10 minutes or shorter. So that’s certainly different from what most people are used to with documentaries. We’ll see how this works out.