ESPN has given a go-ahead to “The Code Breakers,” an original movie focusing on the 1951 West Point cheating scandal that triggered the expulsion of 83 Army cadets, including most of the football team.
Starring Scott Glenn as the Army’s famed football coach Red Blaik, the movie, to be shot in Toronto, is unusual in that it will premiere Dec. 10 not only on ESPN but on ESPNU, a college-sports cable network.
The only other movie to kick off on two inhouse nets was “A Season on the Brink,” a biopic about the Indiana U. basketball coach Bobby Knight, which aired March 10, 2002, on both ESPN and ESPN2. In that case, the ESPN version captured Knight, played by Brian Dennehy, in all of his foul-mouthed glory; the ESPN2 edition was sanitized of all four-letter expletives.
The code in “Code Breakers” refers to the West Point honor code: “A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal.” With the U.S. at war in Korea, the breach of the code on such a vast scale ignited a national nervous breakdown. Movie will highlight the anguish between Blaik and his son, a cadet caught up in the cheating scandal and dismissed from West Point.
“Code Breakers” is the sixth original ESPN movie. Four have already aired, starting with “Season on the Brink” and followed by “The Junction Boys,” with Tom Berenger as Coach Bear Bryant; “Hustle,” with Tom Sizemore as Pete Rose; and “3: The Dale Earnhardt Story,” with Barry Pepper as Earnhardt.
“Four Minutes,” which has begun production in Toronto, concerns the life of Roger Bannister, the British runner who went down in sports history on May 6, 1954, when he became the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes. “Four Minutes” will make its debut on ESPN2, a first for an original movie.