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ESPN's "30 for 30" planning long film on O.J. Simpson

ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard let out a secret late last week during a conversation on his afternoon show (carried locally on ESPN 1520) with the sports network’s Bill Simmons.

Le Batard suggested that the highly-praised “30 for 30” series co-created by Simmons is planning an installment about disgraced Buffalo Bills star O.J. Simpson that could go as long as five hours.

After making that statement, Le Batard asked Simmons if he was revealing a secret and shouldn’t have said anything.

Simmons said it wasn’t a problem.

It isn’t a well-kept secret, since many people have been interviewed for the film.

I was interviewed in October off-camera for background only by a producer for the production company making the film, Laylow Films, and suggested other people she should interview.

I agreed to keep the project quiet until just before ESPN announced it.

I consider what Le Batard did as an announcement.

The producer who interviewed me forwarded an email I sent her late last week to an ESPN publicist, who released the following statement about the film.

“It is too early in the production stages of this project to provide additional details,” said an ESPN spokesperson.

The film is expected to deal with the racial attitudes in the country throughout Simpson’s life as his popularity grew as a Heisman Trophy winner at USC, a record-setting running back with the Buffalo Bills, and with his work in advertising, sports television and film before the so-called Trial of the Century in which he was acquitted of murder. Of course, the trial is expected to be a significant part of the film.

There is no scheduled air date but this October could be an ideal time for ESPN to air it since it would be the 20th anniversary of the 1995 verdict in the criminal trial.

As predicted here, the Buffalo TV market had the second-highest rating for NBC’s broadcast of Pittsburgh’s 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Only the Pittsburgh market (11.0) had a higher rating than Buffalo (5.6). Nationally, the game had a 1.7 overnight rating. The 9.7 rating here for the first 15 minutes of the telecast when the NHL Draft Lottery was held was more than six times the national rating of 1.5 at that time.

Buffalo native Nick Bakay may be laughing all the way to the bank about the negative reviews of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” that he co-wrote with Kevin James. The film, which reportedly received a zero percent positive score on, sold an estimated $24 million in tickets last weekend to finish in second place to “Furious 7.” Bakay and James, who worked together on the situation comedy “King of Queens,” also co-wrote the original Paul Blart movie, that reportedly had a domestic gross of $143 million in 2009.



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