The self-proclaimed Bad Boy of Sports Writing is back, baby! ESPN’s disgraceful – yet economically sound – decision to sack Grantland caused a storm of Internet outrage last week. So, of course, Grantland founder and former Editor-in-Chief Bill Simmons rode those viral waves with today’s timely announcement regarding plans for his first project (aside from The Bill Simmons Podcast) outside the grasp of the Worldwide Leader.
Since signing with HBO in July, Simmons has revealed that he would be hosting his own talk show in 2016, consulting for HBO Sports, and working with the head of HBO Sports in the “development of shows and documentary films for the network.” Yet, until today, no specifics were unearthed. Turns out ol’ Billy Boy is collaborating with fellow ESPN walkout Jonathan Hock, who directed three 30 for 30 documentaries – including “Miracle on Ice” – during his time in Bristol. Creator and Executive Producer of the 30 for 30 series? Simmons, of course.
The subject of Hock and Simmons first documentary, you ask? Only the greatest folk hero in the history of professional wrestling: Andre the Giant. From his signature body slam to The Princess Bride to his penchant for crushing 150 beers in one sitting, the 7’4 Frenchman became one of pop culture’s biggest icons. There’s a lot of material to work with; hopefully the doc serves as an insightful, hilarious look into the life of the world’s first Most Interesting Man.
As a longtime reader and loyal Sports Guy supporter, this is all music to my ears. No doubt Simmons fans – and any fans of high quality storytelling, really – are hoping that Bill’s partnership with HBO will lead to an equally ground-breaking, and perhaps more risque, documentary film series. The first piece on Andre should provide a clear vision of what’s to come.
“ESPN is contracting, and concentrating on live sports and highlights,” one insider told Richard Johnson of Page Six. “HBO is going to have the serious, hard-hitting sports documentaries.”
The best sports journalism magazine on the Internet has closed its doors, hopefully HBO is about to open some others. A recent emigration of former Grantland editors to HBO could mean that there are plans for an online publication in the works. Fingers crossed.