ESPN adds ’30’ directors

Singleton, Ice Cube recruited for doc series

John Singleton, Ice Cube and Alex Gibney are among the latest filmmakers ESPN has recruited for its “30 for 30” documentary series, which will debut Oct. 6.

Project will present 30 one-hour films, airing through December 2010, with each focusing on a different topic drawn from the first 30 years of ESPN.

Singleton will direct a film on discredited track star Marion Jones, while Ice Cube will examine the link between the Los Angeles Raiders and rap. Gibney will focus on Wrigley Field villain Steve Bartman, whose interference on an attempted foul-ball catch by Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou helped unravel the team’s long-frustrated World Series hopes in 2003.

Previously announced “30 for 30” directors include Peter Berg, Reggie Rock Blythewood, Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Barry Levinson, Albert Maysles, Ron Shelton and Mike Tollin.

“To be able to get Steve or Peter or Cube or John Singleton to come to ESPN and ask them to turn their eye to a moment in time and throw themselves into it is really a remarkable opportunity for the network,” ESPN Films exec producer Connor Schell said.

Jones, who has mostly stayed in hiding since serving six months in prison for lying to federal investigators during a steroids case, explained why she agreed to participate.

“It’s an opportunity for me to help people understand — maybe not agree with — but understand certain choices that I made,” Jones said.

James, whose subject will be a controversial 1993 incident in the life of NBA All-Star Allen Iverson, compared his approach in some respects to that of the recent documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.”

“I’m trying to understand and dig deeper into what was done in the past to try to understand the forces that were at work,” said James (“Hoop Dreams”).

Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash is also directing one of the films.

ESPN also announced that it will air a 30th anniversary “SportsCenter” special on Sept. 6, anchored by its longest-tenured hosts, Chris Berman, Bob Ley and John Saunders.

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