‘Black Magic’ to debut in March on ESPN

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: March 28, 2007

Earl Monroe (left) and Clarence

Earl Monroe (left) and Clarence "Bighouse" Gaines

NEW YORK — ESPN Original Entertainment, in collaboration with Shoot the Moon Productions and award-winning director Dan Klores, will televise a two-part, four-hour film entitled Black Magic about the injustice which defined the civil rights movement in America, as told through the lives of basketball players and coaches who attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

Co-produced by basketball legend and Winston-Salem State University graduate Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell, the film will be aired on March 16 and 17 with extensive support across a variety of ESPN networks and media platforms.

Black Magic is an important story that we look forward to telling on all of our platforms,” said John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content.

“It’s a living history of sports and culture that invites a broader discussion about race, society and how we think about modern day athletes and sports. It’s the kind of project we embrace wholeheartedly”.

“Dan Klores continues to prove his mettle as a filmmaker and his rare ability to reveal what we thought we knew, but turns out we didn’t know at all.”

“This is a story of injustice, refuge and joy,” said Klores, “It’s an epic that has not been told.” Klores added that Ben Jobe, the 75-year-old retired coach at six HBCUs, and the 15th child of Tennessee sharecroppers, best summarized the film when he said, “I remember when it went from ‘Whaddya want?’ to ‘May I help you?'”

From more than 200 hours of interviews and footage, the film reveals the plight of these players and coaches as a stark but proud one, filled with obstacles at every turn.

From separate leagues and facilities, to championship games and titles that never qualified for the history books, all the way to secret games played between blacks and whites in defiance of the law, players and programs at HBCUs not only thrived, but laid the groundwork for the proliferation of the modern athlete.

Klores conducted interviews with the widow of Clarence ‘Bighouse” Gaines, Cleo Hill, Ernie Brown, Willis Reed, Avery Johnson, Ben Wallace, John Chaney, Bob Love, Al Attles, Pee Wee Kirkland, Earl Lloyd, Dick Barnett, Woody Sauldsberry, Bob Dandridge, Sonny Hill, Perry Wallace, Dave Robbins, Harold Hunter, Miriam Samuels, Charles Oakley, Donnie Walsh, Bobby Cremins, Howie Evans, the widow of John McLendon, historians Skip Gates, Cleveland Sellers and Milton Katz, amongst others.

Klores’s directing credits include The Boys of Second Street Park and Ring of Fire: the Emile Griffith Story which both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

In addition, his recent film, Viva Baseball captured the 2006 BANFF global award and the Imagen Foundation’s 2006 “Best Documentary for TV or Film” award.

His feature length documentary, Crazy Love, to be released on June 1 by Magnolia Films, also was premiered at Sundance. Crazy Love, the rollicking and disturbing story of an obsessive relationship between a married man and single woman, won the Jury Prize at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.