Actor to play Nike sports scout Sonny Vaccaro
“Sopranos” star James Gandolfini will return to HBO when he plays Sonny Vaccaro, who signed Michael Jordan to the first million-dollar shoe deal at Nike.Gandolfini will star in “ABCD Camp,” which he’ll exec produce through his Attaboy Films banner with partner Alexandra Ryan. Attaboy has an exclusive producing deal at HBO. Dan Halsted also will be exec producing with Baron Davis, the star guard for the Golden State Warriors who formed the production company Verso Entertainment with Cash Warren. “Friday Night Lights” screenwriter David Aaron Cohen pitched and will write a drama chronicling the last youth basketball camp established by the corporate sports scout Vaccaro. Vaccaro is credited with launching the careers of dozens of NBA stars, including LeBron James and Tracy McGrady. He made a fortune brokering deals with college coaches to outfit teams in brand-name shoes, and then signing multimillion-dollar shoe-endorsement deals with Jordan, Kobe Bryant and others. Vaccaro worked first for Nike, then Adidas and Reebok. Vaccaro was a thorn in the side of the NCAA. The governing body of college athletics tried to crack down on Vaccaro in its role of restricting compensation of amateur athletes. Cohen begins writing “ABCD Camp” after completing HBO Films’ “Dare to Dream,” a drama based on the HBO documentary about the rise of the U.S. women’s soccer team that defeated China in the 1999 World Cup. Team Todd and Ross Greenburg will produce that film, which is on a fast track at HBO/Picturehouse. Attaboy’s first project, the docu “Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq,” premieres Sept. 9 on the cabler.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more