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Back in 2011, 20th Century Fox acquired James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales’ tome Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, an oral history into the origins of the world’s greatest sports network. But they let the project go into turnaround a few months ago, unable to figure how what to do with the vast amount of material. Always looking for a hole in one, Focus Features has stepped up to the plate and taken a swing at the book, according to TheWrap, with a box office slam dunk their goal (mixed sports metaphors are fun, guys!). And they’ve hired The Place Beyond the Pines director Derek Cianfrance to helm it, which is one of the strangest choices I can imagine. Well, I guess having Mr. Met direct it would be a stranger choice.
Producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, who are working with Focus on 50 Shades of Grey, were also behind the Oscar award-winning The Social Network with David Fincher, and this is looking to be the sports-themed version of that movie. The producers are currently on the hunt for a screenwriter, and while The Social Network's Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is of course the most obvious choice for this multi-faceted feature, it wouldn’t be out of the question for them to get someone who’s worked in documentaries to work with Cianfrance on putting this all together in a coherent package. Essentially, the book is a load of verbal footage that needs to be sorted through in order to pull a narrative out, and who better than a documentarian for that?
Cianfrance is no stranger to documentaries himself, have filmed several music-themed projects, as well as the MMA-focused Cagefighter, which he shot quite a few years ago and may never come to light due to legal issues. But given the stark realism Cianfrance drenches his films in, which includes the heartbreaker Blue Valentine as well as the multi-generational Pines, there’s no doubt he can turn this series of talking heads into something special. While he currently has the half-finished hard rock drama Metalhead sitting half-finished, he’d signed on earlier this month to adapt M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans. It will probably take quite a while to get a working script out of this feature, so expect to see him get something else done in the meantime.
Those Guys Have All The Fun chronicles the formation and domination of ESPN in the TV-sphere, taking interviews from Bill Simmons, Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Bob Knight, Robin Roberts and many others, who give the real behind-the-scenes stories for all the ups, down, lefts, rights, rivalries and scandals that keep the network so interesting.
It's unlikely that he'll wind up shooting any actual sporting events for the film, but Cianfrance has proven his bona fides with a series of visceral, you-are-there ads for Dick's Sporting Goods, which are so much better than you would ever imagine for a sporting goods chain. Check out one of them below.