Fox firing up Jordan telepic

Unauthorized bio tentatively skedded for late '98 cablecast

NEW YORK — The Fox Family Channel looks as though it’s going to be the first network off the dribble to shoot a made-for-TV movie about the life and times of Michael Jordan.

“We’ll beat everybody else out of the gate — we’ve got casting crews already looking throughout the country for somebody to play Michael Jordan,” said Lance Robbins, president of TV movies and series for Saban Entertainment, which is co-owner of Fox Family Channel with Rupert Murdoch.

Untold story

Saban will produce the movie, to be called “Michael Jordan: The Untold Story of an American Hero,” which Robbins said will get a broadcast-level budget of about $3 million and, he hopes, will end up on Fox Family’s schedule before the year is out.

Robbins said veteran TV-movie writer Michael J. Murray has worked on the script for the past eight months, interviewing people connected with Jordan throughout his career and scouring the 40 books and countless magazine articles written about him. When Jordan’s Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz Sunday to win their sixth NBA title the last eight years, Robbins authorized the announcement of the movie.

Unauthorized

Fox Family has not sought Jordan’s authorization for the project, Robbins said. The film, he continued, will go into such ar-eas of Jordan’s life as “the racial intolerance he faced” growing up in North Carolina, “the addiction to gambling” that led to some uncomfortable headlines throughout his career, and the tragic murder of his father, which “continues to haunt him.”

“We’re hoping that the movie will be a drawing card for Fox Family,” Robbins said, “and drive people to the network that might not otherwise be inclined to watch it.”

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