HBO’s movie Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight has a lily-white cast because it’s a Supreme Court drama set in 1971, the show’s creators explained today at TCA Summer TV Press Tour. This was in response to a TV critic who asked them why the movie had so many white characters and didn’t “go into what black people were thinking” when the heavyweight champ refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military to fight in Vietnam on religious grounds. The movie spans just a few weeks — about six months before Roe v Wade. Ali does appear in the movie, but it’s Actual Ali, 100 percent archival footage.
“We were making a Supreme Court drama,” explained screenwriter Shawn Slovo, noting that all but one of the justices and all of the clerks were white men. “There were no black clerks and woman clerks,” Slovo explained patiently, adding, “That’s the drama we were telling. We chose to make a Supreme Court drama about the Ali case.” For refusing to be conscripted into the military, Ali was arrested, found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title. In 1971 the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. This movie is about the justices coming to that decision. One critic asked Slovo to compare that Supreme Court with today’s. Read More »
CORE Media Group is said to be testing the market to sell off Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion and rights to images of Presley and Muhammad Ali. The Financial Times reports the assets could fetch more than $200M. Citing people familiar with the matter, the FT says CORE, which co-produces American Idol, is eyeing bidders in Asia, Europe and the U.S. for Elvis Presley Enterprises and Muhammad Ali Enterprises. The Raine Group has been hired to advise. However, if it is not satisfied with offers, CORE could retain the properties. Combined, the assets generate about $60M a year in revenues.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
ESPN on Wednesday announced during the first day of the Television Critics Association’s summer confab that it will air seven more new documentaries this fall on the heels of the sports giant’s successful 30 for 30 series that drew critical raves and serious viewership numbers when it aired last year. Among the titles revealed this morning were Morgan Spurlock’s The Dotted Line, Jonathan Hock’s Unguarded and Mike Tollin’s The Real Rocky. The docs will air Tuesdays beginning Sept. 27 and join another new doc-based series, Rise Up, which looks at the impact of renovated sports facilities on four high schools and their communities and begins Sept. 13.
As part of it’s new doc slate, ESPN trotted out former heavyweight punching bag Chuck Wepner — aka The Bayonne Bleeder — to meet the media at the Beverly Hilton. Now 72, Wepner was seen to be positively thriving some 36 years after shocking the world by going 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali, knocking him down and nearly pulling off a monumental upset. Now, Wepner’s unlikely life has spawned The Real Rocky, which speaks to how it was Wepner’s underdog tale that spawned the Rocky franchise and spurred Wepner to successfully sue Sly Stallone for exploiting his story without compensation; he ultimately won a settlement. Read More »
Craig Bankey has left WKT Public Relations to form his own company repping actors and filmmakers. He made the move last Friday, and said he is bringing with him clients that include Muhammad Ali, Matthew Goode, Michael C. Hall, Djimon Hounsou, Daniel Dae Kim, Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe and Sendhil Ramamurthy. Bankey hasn’t named his company yet but will soon.