ESPN launching more docs

Gibney, Spurlock films and 'Rise Up' added to fall sked

ESPN will air eight new documentaries on Tuesdays beginning Sept. 27, coming from directors including Alex Gibney and Morgan Spurlock.

The cabler will also launch four-part original docuseries “Rise Up,” focusing on the effect that rebuilt athletic facilities had on four high schools and their surrounding communities, on Sept. 13.

Under the three-year-old ESPN Films banner, the eight new docs are a follow-up to the acclaimed “30 for 30” series that ran on ESPN from 2009-2010. New projects include Gibney’s “Catching Hell,” which depicts the aftermath of Cubs fan Steve Bartman’s interference with a foul ball that might have helped cost the team its first World Series berth since 1945.

Spurlock directed “The Dotted Line,” an indepth look at the competitive world of sports agents.

Other projects include Jeff Feuerzeig’s “The Real Rocky” (focusing on boxer Chuck Wepner), Eric Drath’s “Renee” (on transgender tennis player Renee Richards) and Steve Michaels’ “Charismatic” (on the tragic end for horse racing’s unlikely triple crown candidate in 1999).

The “30 for 30” branding, created within ESPN Films in celebration of the cabler’s 30th anniversary, was retired by ESPN in an effort to re-establish a name with more permanence.

“We wanted to make sure we took the brand equity and the work that we had done committing to the film community, and make sure we established ESPN Films as a brand that means something,” ESPN content and development and enterprises senior VP Keith Clinkscales said at the Television Critics Assn. press tour Wednesday.

“Rise Up” will be hosted by ESPN college football commentator Chris Speilman and Deanne Bell, a mechanical engineer-television personality. The series will center on a different school each week.

“We believe that this show is a celebration … of folks locally who are doing everything they can,” ESPN content development VP Joan Lynch said.

Series evolved from a September 2010 special/backdoor pilot, “Rise Up: New Orleans.”

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