Chicago Cubs: ESPN announces Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run chase documentary


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Two Big-time home run hitters from the 1990s
Two Big-time home run hitters from the 1990s

Just as ESPN Films moved “The Last Dance” earlier to fill the void that live sports left, ESPN Films’ Peabody and Academy Award-winning 30 for 30 series is premiering three new documentaries, two of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, that will air on Sundays in May and June. Following the airing of final episodes of the record-breaking documentary series “The Last Dance,” ESPN will air 30 for 30s “LANCE,” “Be Water,” and “Long Gone Summer,” which was an official selection to the Tribeca Film Festival. The films will be made available on ESPN+ immediately after their respective premieres, along with the rest of the 30 for 30 library.

Leading the slate on Sunday, May 24 will be part one of the two-part film, “LANCE,” which features unprecedented access to Armstrong through raw interviews and personal perspective on his full story, the inspiring rise and dramatic fall from grace. Lance is directed by Marina Zenovich (“Fantastic Lies,” “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind”). Part two will premiere the following Sunday, May 31. Bao Nguyen’s film “Be Water,” an intimate and very personal look at the life and purpose that motivated Bruce Lee, the martial artist trailblazer and pop culture icon, will debut on Sunday, June 7. Both films received acclaim at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Finally, on June 14, AJ Schnack’s, “Long Gone Summer”, an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, chronicles Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s storied 1998 home run chase following the 1994 MLB strike. For the first time, both men discuss that summer at length, including its lasting legacy and undeniable complications.

Libby Geist, Vice President & Executive Producer, ESPN Films and Original Content said, “It’s a great feeling to bring three more epic documentary projects to sports fans who so need it right now. Moving up these films is no easy task, but it’s absolutely worth the effort to get them on the air for audiences to experience together. It’s a mix of fascinating topics, compelling characters and some of the absolute best storytelling our team has cranked out. The whole ESPN Films team is working hard to entertain fans while we wait for live sports to return and give them a distraction while we go through these hard times.”

Advance press screeners available upon request.

30 for 30 Film Summaries and Dates:

“LANCE” directed by Marina Zenovich

Part 1: Sun., May 24, 9m ET on ESPN

Part 2: Sun., May 31, 9pm ET on ESPN

From acclaimed director Marina Zenovich, LANCE is a fascinating, revealing, comprehensive, chronicle of one of the most inspirational – and then infamous – athletes of all time. Based around extensive interviews and conversations with Lance Armstrong, the two-part, four-hour film tells the story of the cyclist’s rise out of Texas as a young superstar cyclist; his harrowing battle with testicular cancer; his recovery and emergence as a global icon with his seven consecutive Tour de France titles; and then his massive fall after he was exposed in one of the largest doping scandals in history.

Armstrong, along with a collection of family, teammates, friends, rivals, and journalists, all reflect on his story, creating a fascinating character study, capturing a unique chapter of sports history, and insisting the audience make its own interpretations about the many different sides of a complex saga.

“Be Water” directed by Bao Nguyen

Sun., June 7, 9pm ET on ESPN

In 1971, after being rejected by Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to his parents’ homeland, Hong Kong. Over the next two years, he’d complete four iconic films that would define his legacy, a legacy cut short when he died, stunningly, in the summer of 1973. He was 32 years old.

“Be Water” is a gripping, fascinating, intimate look at not just those final, defining years of Lee’s life, but the complex, often difficult, and seismic journey that led to Lee’s ultimate emergence as a singular icon in the histories of film, martial arts, and even the connection between the eastern and western worlds.

The film chronicles Lee’s earliest days, as the son of a Chinese opera star born while his father was on tour in San Francisco, and then raised in Hong Kong over what became an at times troubled childhood. Sent to live in America at the age of 18, he began teaching Kung Fu in Seattle, and established a following that included his future wife, Linda. His ambition ever rising, Lee eventually made his way to Los Angeles, where he strove to break into American film and television. There, despite some success as a fight choreographer and actor, it was clear Hollywood wasn’t ready for an Asian leading man – and so he returned to Hong Kong to make the films that would in fact make him a legend, his international star skyrocketing just as his life was cut short.

“Be Water” is told entirely by the family, friends, and collaborators who knew Bruce Lee best, with an extraordinary trove of archive film providing an evocative, immersive visual tapestry that captures Lee’s charisma, his passion, his philosophy, and the eternal beauty and wonder of his art.

“Long Gone Summer” directed by AJ Schnack

Sun., June 14, 9pm ET on ESPN

It was one of the most memorable and significant seasons in the history of baseball. In the summer of 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa embarked on a chase of one of the game’s most hallowed records, igniting the passion and imagination of fans and non-fans everywhere. The drama, excitement, and results would be remembered for generations. If we only knew then just how complex our feelings about it all would eventually become.

In ESPN’s new 30 for 30 film “Long Gone Summer,” director AJ Schnack takes viewers back to the landmark 1998 baseball season – its tremendous highlights, massive impact, and undeniable complications. Featuring in-depth interviews with both McGwire and Sosa, talking at length for the first time in over two decades, the intimate portrait carries viewers through every twist and turn of the sluggers’ historic chase of Roger Maris’s iconic record of 61 home runs in a single season. With a musical score composed by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, a St. Louis-area native and current Chicago resident, the film is a journey back through time that recalls how seismic and emotional the story was – even as the legitimacy of the accomplishments at its center would later be called into question.

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