John Davis has teamed with Bruce Nash to develop sports-themed theatrical films. The projects will be hatched through Nash’s Fox Sports Net series “Amazing Sports Stories.”
Davis aims to set up the films through his first-look deal at 20th Century Fox. Deal comes after Davis produced “The Express,” a Universal drama about college gridiron legend Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.
Nash, a prolific TV producer, has written 60 books on sports history, and he produced “The Fritz Pollard Story” for ESPN. The 2002 telepic revived interest in Pollard and helped him make it into the Football Hall of Fame.
” ‘The Express’ whetted my appetite, because the true sports genre has so many untold triumph-of-the- human-spirit stories that just work so well for movies,” Davis said.
Among the ideas for films that came out of Nash’s FSN show is the melding of the bitter rivals Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles in 1943, when healthy players were scarce during WWII, Nash said.
Another candidate is the story of Bert Shepard, the only one-legged player in Major League Baseball history. A fighter pilot during WWII, Shepard had his leg amputated from the knee down after his plane was shot down over Germany. Shepard’s hopes of a baseball career were made known to a friend of Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith, who put Shepard on the team and let him pitch in a game.
“He came in with the bases loaded, struck the guy out, and pitched his heart out,” Nash said. “Some 40 years later, he was reunited with the doctor who’d saved him.”