It seems hard to believe now, but back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s ESPN was more of a joke network than an entertainment powerhouse. The channel, which has grown exponentially since its formation in 1979, is now home to NFL football, NBA basketball, Major League Baseball, and is the serious sports fan’s go to source for news and insight. Yet, once upon a time, the station was mostly known for showing Australian Rules Football and professional wrestling (I actually miss Australian Rules Football…).
Authors James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales haven’t forgotten those days – and they’ve chronicled the history of the cable juggernaut in ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun – an oral history of the channel’s evolution as told by the people who were there. Now, 20th Century Fox is close to making a deal to acquire the film rights to the book with the intention of bringing all of the behind the scenes intrigue of ESPN to the big screen. The question is, is this story interesting enough to turn into a film?
Sources who’ve read Miller and Shales’ tome say the answer is yes. Filled with gossipy insight, the story of ESPN’s formation is being compared to The Social Network – which didn’t seem like an intriguing tale at first glance, either, but went on to earn countless award nominations. The only potential snag with the ESPN story is that the book is more a series of interviews than a cohesive narrative, apparently – meaning whoever adapts the project for the screen is going to have to find a way to give the story an overarching structure and a main character.
We’re intrigued by the project, if for no other reason than because we want to know what Chris Berman is really like and if he’s as obnoxiously annoying off the air as he is on it. Half the fun of thinking about this project is guessing who might play which anchor. We think John Goodman would make a good Berman, but we’re conflicted when it comes to Patrick and Olbermann. What about Linda Cohn? Stuart Scott? For some reason, we can totally see Dan Ackroyd playing Rich Eisen. Oh, and we’re already voting that Craig Kilborn play himself. That’s just a given.
Hit the comment section below and share some of your casting choices for who should star in an ESPN movie.