Over the next four Sundays, ESPN will air three new “30 for 30” documentary films on Lance Armstrong, Bruce Lee, and the magical summer Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing the home run record.
Between the lack of live major sports and the insane popularity of “The Last Chance” documentary on Michael Jordan, ESPN will continue to monopolize its new-found domination of the Sunday evening 9 pm to 11 pm time slot.
For the last five Sundays, ESPN aired two, hour-long chapters of “The Last Chance” documentary. Last night, ESPN aired the final two chapters that concluded with the 1990s Bulls dynasty winning their sixth NBA title in eight seasons.
ESPN made the decision to move the start date of the Jordan doc up from its original release date in June (to coincide with the NBA Finals).
ESPN New 30 for 30 Air Dates
MAY 24: Lance (Part 1)
MAY 31: Lance (Part 2)
JUNE 7: Be Water (Bruce Lee)
JUNE 14: Long Gone Summer (McGwire & Sosa)
Without Sunday Night Baseball to fill the bill, ESPN hopes that sports-starved fans will continue to tune in on Sunday nights for documentaries about notable figures in sports. For that sole reason, ESPN also moved up the air dates for three new “30 for 30” documentaries.
“Lance” is a two-part documentary (four hours) directed by Marina Zenovich. Bao Nguyen directed “Be Water” about Bruce Lee. “Long Gone Summer,” about the 1998 chase by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to break Roger Maris’ home run record, is directed by AJ Schnack
30 for 30: Lance Armstrong
If you’re not a fan of cycling, or tuned out Armstrong over the last two decades, then you might have missed one of the craziest and most-bizarre cheating scandals in all of sports. Professional cycling had always been ripe with blood doping and cyclists using performance-enhancing drugs to gain an edge over the peloton. Armstrong and his medical team thought they were a couple of steps ahead of the community, media, and testers. As we all found out, his victories at the Tour de France were all bogus.
Armstrong initially won the yellow jersey at the Tour de France seven times between 1999 and 2005. The Tour de France governing body stripped Armstrong and his winning teams (US Postal Service and Discovery Channel) of all seven titles.
Will Armstrong finally come clean? You’ll have to tune into ESPN over the next two weekends to find out when “Lance” debuts on Sunday, May 24, and concludes on May 31. The new “Lance” documentary on Armstrong clocks in at four hours (with some commercial interruption).
“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,” explained ESPN in a press release.
Meanwhile, the current Tour de France got postponed until the end of the summer.
Check local listings for “Lance” times. Each new documentary will be available after each airdate on ESPN+ subscription site.
Bruce Lee: Be Water
Lee, a martial artist and philosopher, became famous for his roles in television and movies in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“Be Water” explores Lee and his trailblazing role as an Asian in Hollywood. Lee had a famous phrase about fighting styles about “be formless, shapeless … be water”, which was meant to explain the fluidity and adaptability in martial arts, but can easily be applied to all walks of life.
“Trying to immerse the audience in the film in the present day of the 1960s and 1970s America and in that way, we wanted the movie to flow like water,” said director Bao Nguyen.
In 1973, Lee died prematurely at age 32. His films reached a global audience and included “The Return of the Dragon” (1972), “Fist of Fury” (1972), and “Enter the Dragon” (1973).
Bruce Lee gets the long-awaited “30 for 30” treatment when “Be Water” debuts on ESPN on June 7.
Long Gone Summer: McGwire and Sosa
In 1998, disillusioned fans returned to the game in huge droves after the initial fallout from the 1994-95 baseball strike. Home runs were the reason why fans fled to the ballpark or tuned in. Both McGwire (St Louis Cardinals) and Sosa (Chicago Cubs) were chasing the single-season home run mark (61 dingers) that Roger Maris set in 1961.
Both sluggers were on pace to break Maris’ mark, but which one would get there first? And which one would end up setting the new record?
McGwire smacked 70 home runs that season and Sosa knocked out 66. It was truly a memorable chase, but albeit, a record tainted by PEDs and steroids.
1998 also marked the peak steroid years in the MLB. Once again, ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series will focus on performance-enhancing drugs, this time, on the baseball diamond. Baseball players always had a low-key boost from drugs ranging from speed pills to cocaine, to Dock Ellis’ LSD-infused no-hitter. By the mid-1990s, it seemed like every team had someone on the juice as home rates blew up.
“Long Gone Summer” debuts on ESPN on June 14.