By Sahil Patel
ESPN Films plans to release one of the films in its vaunted “30 for 30” documentary series online before its TV premiere.
“Sole Nation,” which spotlights the life and career of former sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro, will premiere on Grantland.com, the sports and culture site started by “30 for 30” executive producer and ESPN writer Bill Simmons. Starting on April 6, the film will be released in six parts, with a new episode debuting every day through April 10, when the final two parts will be available online.
ESPN will put some of its TV machinery behind marketing the digital series. An exclusive first look at the chapter featuring LeBron James, for instance, will premiere on the 6pm edition of “SportsCenter” on Friday, February 13.
“Sole Man” is described as the definitive and unflinching account of how Vaccaro went from humble Pennsylvania steel-town beginnings to becoming one of the most important people in the modern era of sports marketing. (Vaccaro is widely known for his role in launching Nike’s “Air Jordan” empire in the 1980s.)
The film features interviews with some of the biggest names in basketball, including current and former NBA stars like James, Chris Webber, Tracy McGrady, and Joakim Noah, as well as coaches Jim Boeheim, John Thompson, Larry Brown, Jim Calhoun, and John Calipari.
“Sole Man” is executive produced by Jamie Patricof (“The Place Beyond the Pines,” “Blue Valentine”), Cash Warren, and former NBA player Baron Davis.
The film also marks the directorial debut of Jon Weinbach and Dan Marks, whose previous work include “Straight Outta LA,” one of the first documentary films to be produced as part of the “30 for 30” franchise.
“Sole Man” will premiere on TV on Thursday, April 16, at 9pm on ESPN.